The Great American Steamboat Race

The Natchez and the Robert E. Lee and the Climax of an Era


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SKU: 9780786442928 Categories: , , ,

About the Book

Running from New Orleans to St. Louis in the summer of 1870, the race between the Robert E. Lee and the Natchez remains the world’s most famous steamboat race. This book tells the story of the dramatic contest, which was won by the stripped-down, cargoless Robert E. Lee after three days, 18 hours, and 14 minutes of steaming through day, night and fog. The Natchez finished the race only hours later, having been delayed by carrying her normal load and tying up overnight because of the intense fog. Providing details on not only the race narrative but also on the boats themselves, the book gives an intimate look at the majestic vessels that conquered the country’s greatest waterway and defined the bravado of 19th–century America.

About the Author(s)

Formerly with the New York Times and the Saturday Evening Post, Benton Rain Patterson is an emeritus associate professor of journalism at the University of Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Benton Rain Patterson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 28 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4292-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5387-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

Part One. The Big Event

1. The Start      3

2. The Course      19

3. The Early Going      35

Part Two. The Origins

4. The Pioneers      49

5. A Different Kind of Boat      65

6. Captain Shreve’s Design      77

7. The Proliferation      89

Part Three. The Circumstances

8. The Sweet Life on the Mississippi      101

9. The Hard-Working Life      117

10. Owners and Officers      129

11. The Perils      145

Part Four. The Outcome

12. On to Cairo      167

13. The Fog      178

14. Celebration in St. Louis      183

Epilogue      194

Chapter Notes      199

Bibliography      203

Index      206

Book Reviews & Awards

“Benton Rain Patterson writes a cracking good narrative of the race, with the sort of excitement one might expect from a World Series announcer in a tight game between bitter rivals”—Sea History.