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Vessels were made of wood—typically ranging in length from 40 to nearly 300 feet (91 m) in length, 10 to 80 feet (24 m) wide, drawing only about one to five feet of water loaded, and in fact it was commonly said that they could "navigate on a heavy dew." The boats had kingposts or internal masts to support hogchains, or iron trusses, which prevented the hull from sagging. Often the boats became quite ornate with wood trim, velvet, plush chairs, gilt edging and other trimmings sometimes featured as per the owner's taste and budget.
A second deck was added, the Texas Deck, to provide cabins and passenger areas. Wood burning boilers were forward center to distribute weight.
It spans 3,860 miles (6,210 km) of length as measured using its northernmost west fork, the Missouri River, which starts in the Rocky Mountains in Montana, joining the Mississippi proper in the state of Missouri.
The Ohio River and Tennessee River are other tributaries on its east, and the Arkansas, Platte and Red River of Texas on the west.
Steamboats played a major role in the 19th-century development of the Mississippi River and its tributaries by allowing the practical large-scale transport of passengers and freight both up- and down-river.
Using steam power, riverboats were developed during that time which could navigate in shallow waters as well as upriver against strong currents.
Natchez II was the first built for Captain Thomas P. On March 10, 1866, it sank at Mobile, Alabama due to rotting. It was 270 feet (82 m) long, had six boilers, and could hold 4,000 bales of cotton. On January 1, 1854, the ship collided with the Pearl at Plaquemine, Louisiana, causing the Pearl to sink.
On March 13, 1863, it was burned either by accident or to keep it out of Union hands at Honey Island. Natchez VIII was launched August 2, 1879 by the Cincinnati Marine Ways.As a result, the US was then free to expand westward out of the Ohio valley and into the Great Plains and the Southwest.The success of the Charlotte Dundas in Scotland in 1801 and Robert Fulton's Clermont on the Hudson River in 1807 proved the concept of the steamboat.Later, with better pilots, more powerful engines and boilers, removal of obstacles and experienced rivermen knowing where the sand bars were, the figure was reduced to 4 days. The first Natchez was a low pressure sidewheel steamboat built in New York City in 1823.It originally ran between New Orleans and Natchez, Mississippi, and later catered to Vicksburg, Mississippi.