Henry Miller Shreve
One individual played a part in three significant developments that opened
up the Mississippi River to steamboats: Henry Miller Shreve.
|Pen and Ink drawing of Henry Miller Shreve
As an engine designer he made important improvements in steamboat technology.
He helped break the Fulton-Livingston steamboat monopoly, allowing free
access to the lower Mississippi. He was instrumental in cleaning
up inland waterways, removing snags
and generally improving the river's condition for steamboat traffic.
As a young man Henry Shreve joined with a group of steamboat builders who
wanted to challenge the Fulton-Livingston
monopoly on the Mississippi. In 1811, Robert Fulton built the
New Orleans, a steamboat of a new design, and it made the first
successful trip down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. After proving
the viability of steamboat commerce on the river, Fulton and his partner,
Robert Livingston, established a monopoly with the state of Louisiana that
granted them exclusive steamboat rights to the lower Mississippi.
Shreve set out to learn the skills of a steamboat pilot and develop ways
to improve steamboat design.