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Robert Fulton's steamboat the Clermont was undoubtedly the pioneer of practical steamboats. In 1801, Robert Fulton partnered with Robert Livingston to build the Clermont. Livingston had received a monopoly on steam navigation on the rivers of New York State for twenty years, provided that he produced a steam-powered vessel able to travel four miles an hour.
Construction of the Clermont
Robert Fulton arrived at New York in 1806 and began the construction of the Clermont, named after Robert Livingston's estate on the Hudson river. The building was done on the East River in New York City. However, the Clermont was then the butt of jokes of passersby, who nicknamed it "Fulton's Folly."
Launch of the Clermont
On Monday, August 17, 1807, the first voyage of the Clermont was begun. Carrying a party of invited guests, the Clermont steamed off at one o'clock. Pine wood was the fuel. At one o'clock Tuesday the boat arrived at Clermont, 110 miles from New York City. After spending the night at Clermont, the voyage was resumed on Wednesday. Albany, forty miles away, was reached in eight hours, making a record of 150 miles in thirty-two hours. Returning to New York City, the distance was covered in thirty hours. The steamboat Clermont was a success.
The boat was then laid up for two weeks while the cabins were built, a roof built over the engine, and coverings placed over the paddle-wheels to catch the water spray. Then the Clermont began making regular trips to Albany, carrying sometimes a hundred passengers, making the round trip every four days and continued until floating ice marked the break for winter.
Clermont Builder - Robert Fulton
Robert Fulton was one of the most important figures in early American technology. Before his steamboat Clermont first ascended the Hudson River in 1807, he worked for years in England and France on industrial development, especially inland navigation and the cutting of canals, and built a submarine.