Paddle steamer

A paddle steamer is a steamship or riverboat
A riverboat is a ship built boat designed for inland navigation on lakes, rivers, and artificial waterways. They are generally equipped and outfitted as work boats in one of the carrying trades, for freight or people transport, including luxury units constructed for entertainment enterprises, such...

, powered by a steam engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

, using paddle wheels to propel it through the water. In antiquity, Paddle wheelers followed the development of poles, oars and sails, where the first uses were wheelers driven by animals or humans. Modern paddle wheelers may be powered by diesel engines.Experience of economics: The paddle designs using diesels are tourist vessels servicing sightseeing attractions or replica riverboats and are mainly restaurants and casinos. Save for tourism and small pleasure boats (paddle boats) paddle propulsion is largely superseded by the screw propeller and other marine propulsion
Marine propulsion
Marine propulsion is the mechanism or system used to generate thrust to move a ship or boat across water. While paddles and sails are still used on some smaller boats, most modern ships are propelled by mechanical systems consisting a motor or engine turning a propeller, or less frequently, in jet...

 that have a higher efficiency, especially in rough or open water.

Paddle wheels

The paddle wheel is a large wheel, built on a steel framework, upon the outer edge of which are fitted numerous paddle blades (called floats or buckets). The bottom quarter or so of the wheel travels underwater. Rotation of the paddle wheel produces thrust
Thrust is a reaction force described quantitatively by Newton's second and third laws. When a system expels or accelerates mass in one direction the accelerated mass will cause a force of equal magnitude but opposite direction on that system....

, forward or backward as required. More advanced paddle wheel designs have featured feathering methods that keep each paddle blade oriented closer to vertical while it is in the water; this increases efficiency. The upper part of a paddle wheel is normally enclosed in a paddlebox to minimise splashing.

Types of paddle steamer

There are two basic ways to mount paddle wheels on a ship; either a single wheel on the rear, known as a stern-wheeler, or a paddle wheel on each side, known as a side-wheeler.

Both sternwheelers and sidewheelers were used as riverboats in the United States. Some still operate for tourists, for example on the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...


Side-wheelers are used as riverboats and as coastal craft. While wider than a stern-wheeler, due to the extra width of the paddle wheels and their enclosing sponsons, a side-wheeler has extra maneuverability since they are usually rigged so the paddles can move at different rates, and even in differing directions (one forward, one reversed giving rapid turning capabilities). Due to this extra maneuverability side-wheelers were more popular on the narrower, windy rivers of the Murray-Darling system in Australia where a number are still in operation today.

European side-wheelers such as the have solid drive shafts that require both wheels to turn ahead or astern together, which limits maneuverability and gives a wide turning circle. Some were built with paddle clutches to disengage one or both paddles and allow them to turn independently. However early experience with side-wheelers requires them to be operated with clutches out, or as solid shaft vessels. It was noticeable that as ships approached their piers for docking, passengers would move to the side of the ship ready to disembark. The shift in weight when added to independent movements of the paddles could lead to imbalance and potential for capsize.

Paddle tugs were frequently operated with clutches in, as the lack of passengers aboard meant that independent paddle movement could be used safely and the added maneuverability exploited to the full.

Western world

The use of a paddle wheel in navigation appears for the first time in the mechanical treatise of the Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 engineer Vitruvius
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman writer, architect and engineer, active in the 1st century BC. He is best known as the author of the multi-volume work De Architectura ....

 (De architectura, X 9.5-7), where he describes multi-geared paddle wheels working as a ship odometer
An odometer or odograph is an instrument that indicates distance traveled by a vehicle, such as a bicycle or automobile. The device may be electronic, mechanical, or a combination of the two. The word derives from the Greek words hodós and métron...

. The first mention of paddle wheels as a means of propulsion comes from the 4th–5th century military treatise De Rebus Bellicis
De Rebus Bellicis
De rebus bellicis is a 4th or 5th century anonymous work about war machines used by the Roman army of the time. It was written after the death of Constantine I , and before the fall of the Western Roman Empire...

 (chapter XVII), where the anonymous Roman author describes an ox-driven paddle-wheel warship:
The Italian physician Guido da Vigevano
Guido da Vigevano
Guido da Vigevano was an Italian physician and inventor. He is notable for his sketchbook Texaurus regis Francie which depicts a number of technological items and ingenious devices, allowing modern scholarship an invaluable insight into the state of medieval technology...

 (c. 1280−1349), planning for a new crusade, made illustrations for a paddle boat
Paddle boat
Paddle boat may refer to:* Paddle steamer or paddleboat, a boat propelled by a paddle wheel* Pedalo, a boat propelled by pedalling with the feet* A boat which is paddled, such as a canoe or kayak...

 that was propelled by manually turned compound cranks
Crank (mechanism)
A crank is an arm attached at right angles to a rotating shaft by which reciprocating motion is imparted to or received from the shaft. It is used to change circular into reciprocating motion, or reciprocating into circular motion. The arm may be a bent portion of the shaft, or a separate arm...


One of the drawings of the Anonymous Author of the Hussite Wars shows a boat with a pair of paddle-wheels at each end turned by men operating compound cranks (see above). The concept was improved by the Italian Roberto Valturio
Roberto Valturio
Roberto Valturio was an Italian engineer and writer born in Rimini. He was the author of the military treatise De Re militari .-References:...

 in 1463, who devised a boat with five sets, where the parallel cranks are all joined to a single power source by one connecting-rod, an idea adopted by his compatriot Francesco di Giorgio
Francesco di Giorgio
Francesco di Giorgio Martini was an Italian painter of the Sienese School and a sculptor, as well as being, in Nikolaus Pevsner's terms, "one of the most interesting later Quattrocento architects'" and a visionary architectural theorist; as a military engineer he executed architectural designs and...


In 1787 Patrick Miller of Dalswinton
Patrick Miller of Dalswinton
Patrick Miller of Dalswinton, just north of Dumfries was a Scottish banker and shareholder in the Carron Company engineering works and an enthusiastic experimenter in ordnance and naval architecture, including double- or triple-hulled pleasure boats propelled by cranked paddle wheels placed...

 invented a double-hulled boat, which was propelled on the Firth of Forth
Firth of Forth
The Firth of Forth is the estuary or firth of Scotland's River Forth, where it flows into the North Sea, between Fife to the north, and West Lothian, the City of Edinburgh and East Lothian to the south...

 by men working a capstan which
drove paddles on each side.

The first paddle steamer was the Pyroscaphe
Pyroscaphe was an early experimental steamship built by Marquis de Jouffroy d'Abbans in 1783. The first demonstration took place on 15 July 1783 on the river Saône in France...

 built by Marquis Claude de Jouffroy of Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

 in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, in 1783. It had a horizontal double-acting steam engine driving two 13.1-ft (4 m) paddle wheels on the sides of the craft. On July 15, 1783 it steamed up the Saône for fifteen minutes before the engine failed. Political events interrupted further development.

The next successful attempt at a paddle-driven steam ship was by the Scottish
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 engineer William Symington
William Symington
William Symington was a Scottish engineer and inventor, and the builder of the first practical steamboat, the Charlotte Dundas.-Early life:...

 who suggested steam power to Patrick Miller of Dalswinton
Patrick Miller of Dalswinton
Patrick Miller of Dalswinton, just north of Dumfries was a Scottish banker and shareholder in the Carron Company engineering works and an enthusiastic experimenter in ordnance and naval architecture, including double- or triple-hulled pleasure boats propelled by cranked paddle wheels placed...

. Experimental boats built in 1788 and 1789 worked successfully on Lochmaben
Lochmaben is a small town in Scotland, and site of a once-important castle. It lies four miles west of Lockerbie, in Dumfries and Galloway.-Notable people:*Angus Douglas - Scottish internationalist footballer...

 Loch. In 1802, Symington built a barge
A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Some barges are not self-propelled and need to be towed by tugboats or pushed by towboats...

-hauler, Charlotte Dundas
Charlotte Dundas
The Charlotte Dundas is regarded as the world's "first practical steamboat", the first towing steamboat and the boat that demonstrated the practicality of steam power for ships....

, for the Forth and Clyde Canal Company. It successfully hauled two 70-ton barges almost 20 miles (30 km) in 6 hours against a strong headwind on test in 1802. There was much enthusiasm, but some directors of the company were concerned about the banks of the canal being damaged by the wash from a powered vessel, and no more were ordered.

While Charlotte Dundas was the first commercial paddle-steamer and steamboat, the first commercial success was possibly Robert Fulton
Robert Fulton
Robert Fulton was an American engineer and inventor who is widely credited with developing the first commercially successful steamboat...

's Clermont
North River Steamboat
The North River Steam Boat or Clermont was the first commercially successful steamship of the paddle steamer design. It operated on the Hudson River between New York and Albany...

 in New York, which went into commercial service in 1807 between New York City and Albany
Albany, New York
Albany is the capital city of the U.S. state of New York, the seat of Albany County, and the central city of New York's Capital District. Roughly north of New York City, Albany sits on the west bank of the Hudson River, about south of its confluence with the Mohawk River...

. Many other paddle-equipped river boats followed all around the world.

East Asia

The first mention of a paddle-wheel ship from China is described in the History of the Southern Dynasties, compiled in the 7th century but describing the naval ships of the Liu Song Dynasty
Liu Song Dynasty
The Liu Song Dynasty , also known as Song Dynasty , Former Song , or Southern Song , was first of the four Southern Dynasties in China, succeeding the Eastern Jin Dynasty and followed by the Southern Qi Dynasty....

 (420–479) used by admiral Wang Zhene in his campaign against the Qiang people in 418 AD. The mathematician and astronomer Zu Chongzhi
Zu Chongzhi
Zu Chongzhi , courtesy name Wenyuan , was a prominent Chinese mathematician and astronomer during the Liu Song and Southern Qi Dynasties.-Life and works:...

 (429–500) had a paddle-wheel ship built on the Xinting River (south of Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

) known as the "thousand league boat". When campaigning against Hou Jing
Hou Jing
Hou Jing , courtesy name Wanjing , was a general for the Chinese states Northern Wei, Eastern Wei, and Liang Dynasty, and briefly, after controlling the Liang imperial regime for several years, usurped the Liang throne, establishing a state of Han...

 in 552, the Liang Dynasty
Liang Dynasty
The Liang Dynasty , also known as the Southern Liang Dynasty , was the third of the Southern dynasties in China and was followed by the Chen Dynasty...

 (502–557) admiral Xu Shipu employed paddle-wheel boats called "water-wheel boats". At the siege of Liyang in 573, the admiral Huang Faqiu employed foot-treadle powered paddle-wheel boats. A successful paddle-wheel warship design was made in China by Prince Li Gao in 784 AD, during an imperial examination of the provinces by the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 (618–907) emperor. The Chinese Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 (960–1279) issued the construction of many paddle-wheel ships for its standing navy
History of the Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty of China was a ruling dynasty that controlled China proper and southern China from the middle of the 10th century into the last quarter of the 13th century...

, and according to historian Joseph Needham
Joseph Needham
Noel Joseph Terence Montgomery Needham, CH, FRS, FBA , also known as Li Yuese , was a British scientist, historian and sinologist known for his scientific research and writing on the history of Chinese science. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1941, and as a fellow of the British...


"...between 1132 and 1183 (AD) a great number of treadmill-operated paddle-wheel craft, large and small, were built, including stern-wheelers and ships with as many as 11 paddle-wheels a side,”.

It is asserted that the standard Chinese term "wheel ship" was used by the Song period, whereas a litany of colorful terms were used to describe it beforehand. In the 12th century, the Song government used paddle-wheel ships en masse to defeat opposing armies of pirates armed with their own paddle-wheel ships. At the Battle of Caishi
Battle of Caishi
The naval Battle of Caishi took place in 1161 and was the result of an attempt by forces of the Jurchen Jin to cross the Yangtze River, thus beginning an invasion of Southern Song China...

 in 1161, paddle-wheelers were also used with great success against the Jin Dynasty (1115–1234) navy. The Chinese used the paddle-wheel ship even during the First Opium War
First Opium War
The First Anglo-Chinese War , known popularly as the First Opium War or simply the Opium War, was fought between the United Kingdom and the Qing Dynasty of China over their conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade, and the administration of justice...

 (1839–1842) and for transport around the Pearl River
Pearl River (China)
The Pearl River or less commonly, the "Guangdong River" or "Canton River" etc., , is an extensive river system in southern China. The name Pearl River is usually used as a catchment term to refer to the watersheds of the Xi Jiang , the Bei Jiang , and the Dong Jiang...

 during the early 20th century.

Seagoing paddle steamers

The first seagoing trip of a paddle steamer was that in 1808 of the Albany, which steamed from the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

 along the coast to the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

. This was purely for the purpose of moving a river-boat to a new market, but the use of paddle-steamers for short coastal trips began soon after that.

The first paddle-steamer to make a long ocean voyage was , built in 1819 expressly for this service. Savannah set out for Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 on May 22, 1819, sighting Ireland after 23 days at sea. This was the first powered crossing of the Atlantic, although Savannah also carried a full rig of sail to assist the engines when winds were favorable. In 1822, Charles Napier's Aaron Manby
Aaron Manby
Aaron Manby was a landmark vessel in the science of shipbuilding as the first iron steamship to go to sea. She was built by Aaron Manby at the Horseley Ironworks. She made the voyage to Paris in June 1822 under Captain Charles Napier, with Aaron's son Charles on board as engineer...

, the world's first iron ship, made the first direct steam crossing from London to Paris and the first seagoing voyage by an iron ship.
In 1838, , a fairly small steam packet built for the Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

 to London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 route, became the first vessel to cross the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 under sustained steam power, beating Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS , was a British civil engineer who built bridges and dockyards including the construction of the first major British railway, the Great Western Railway; a series of steamships, including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship; and numerous important bridges...

's much larger by a day. Great Western, however, was actually built for the transatlantic trade, and so had sufficient coal for the passage; Sirius had to burn furniture and other items after running out of coal. The Great Western’s more successful crossing began the regular sailing of powered vessels across the Atlantic. Beaver
Beaver (steamship)
Beaver was the first steamship to operate in the Pacific Northwest of North America. She made remote parts of the west coast of Canada accessible for maritime fur trading and was chartered by the Royal Navy for surveying the coastline of British Columbia....

 was the first coastal steamship to operate in the Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

 of North America. Paddle steamers helped open Japan
Black Ships
The Black Ships was the name given to Western vessels arriving in Japan in the 16th and 19th centuries.In 1543 Portuguese initiated the first contacts, establishing a trade route linking Goa to Nagasaki...

 to the Western World in the mid-19th century.
The largest paddle-steamer ever built was Brunel's , but it also had screw propulsion and sail rigging. It was 692 ft (211 m) long and weighed 32,000 tons, its paddle-wheels being 56 ft (17 m) in diameter.

In oceangoing service, paddle steamers became much less useful after the invention of the screw propeller, but they remained in use in coastal service and as river tugboats, thanks to their shallow draught and good maneuverability.

USA and Canada

A few paddle steamers serve niche tourism needs as cruise boats on lakesAs a sampling: Steamers operate on Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain is a natural, freshwater lake in North America, located mainly within the borders of the United States but partially situated across the Canada—United States border in the Canadian province of Quebec.The New York portion of the Champlain Valley includes the eastern portions of...

, Lake George
Lake George (New York)
Lake George, nicknamed the Queen of American Lakes, is a long, narrow oligotrophic lake draining northwards into Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River Drainage basin located at the southeast base of the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York, U.S.A.. It lies within the upper region of the...

, and Lake Winnipesaukee
Lake Winnipesaukee
Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in the U.S. state of New Hampshire. It is approximately long and from wide , covering — when Paugus Bay is included—with a maximum depth of ....

 in the U.S. Northeast as of .
and others, such as the Delta Queen
Delta Queen
The Delta Queen is an American sternwheel steamboat that is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. Historically, she has been used for cruising the major rivers that constitute the drainage of the Mississippi River, particularly in the American South. As of June 2009, she is docked in Chattanooga,...

, still operate on the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 and in the Pacific Northwest along the Willamette River
Willamette River
The Willamette River is a major tributary of the Columbia River, accounting for 12 to 15 percent of the Columbia's flow. The Willamette's main stem is long, lying entirely in northwestern Oregon in the United States...

, as do a few in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe.

, built in 1912 by the New York Shipbuilding Company, was the biggest passenger-carrying riverboat ever built with a capacity for 6,000 passengers. It was operated on the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

 from 1913 until it was sunk in an accident in 1926. One of the last paddle steamers built in the U.S. was the dredge , built in 1934 and now a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...



The Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

 river Saxon Paddle Steamer Fleet in Dresden
White Fleet paddle steamers, Dresden
The Sächsische Dampfschiffahrt of Dresden, Germany is the oldest and biggest paddle steamer fleet in the world. It consists of nine wheel steamers, two salon ships and two motor ships. It was formerly known as the White Fleet .All the ships have names of Saxon towns and cities or Saxon people like...

 (known as "White Fleet"), Germany, is the oldest and biggest in the world, with around 700,000 passengers per year. The 1913-built Goethe was the last paddle steamer on the River Rhine. Previously the world's largest sidewheeler with a two-cylinder steam engine of 700 HP, a length of 83 m and a height above water of 9.2 m, the Goethe was converted to Diesel-Hydraulic power during the winter of 2008/09.


In Italy, a small paddle steamer fleet operates on Lake Como
Lake Como
Lake Como is a lake of glacial origin in Lombardy, Italy. It has an area of 146 km², making it the third largest lake in Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore...

 and Lake Garda
Lake Garda
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. It is located in Northern Italy, about half-way between Brescia and Verona, and between Venice and Milan. Glaciers formed this alpine region at the end of the last ice age...

, primarily for tourists.


PS Skibladner
PS Skibladner is a paddle steamer operating on the lake of Mjøsa in Norway.Skibladner is a sidewheel design, and her maiden voyage was on 2 August 1856, making her the world's oldest paddle steamer still in timetabled service...

 is the oldest steamship in regular operation. Built in 1856, she still operates on lake Mjøsa
Mjøsa is Norway's largest lake, as well as one of the deepest lakes in Norway and in Europe as a whole, after Hornindalsvatnet. It is located in the southern part of Norway, about 100 km north of Oslo...

 in Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...



Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 has a large paddle steamer fleet, most of the "Salon Steamer-type" built by Sulzer
Sulzer (manufacturer)
Sulzer Ltd. is a Swiss industrial engineering and manufacturing firm, founded by Salomon Sulzer-Bernet in 1775 and established as Sulzer Brothers Ltd. in 1834 in Winterthur, Switzerland. Today it is a publicly owned company with international subsidiaries...

 in Winterthur
Winterthur is a city in the canton of Zurich in northern Switzerland. It has the country's sixth largest population with an estimate of more than 100,000 people. In the local dialect and by its inhabitants, it is usually abbreviated to Winti...

 or Escher-Wyss in Zurich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

. There are five active and one inactive on Lake Lucerne
Lake Lucerne
Lake Lucerne is a lake in central Switzerland and the fourth largest in the country.The lake has a complicated shape, with bends and arms reaching from the city of Lucerne into the mountains. It has a total area of 114 km² , an elevation of 434 m , and a maximum depth of 214 m . Its volume is 11.8...

, two on Lake Zurich, and one each on Lake Brienz
Lake Brienz
Lake Brienz is a lake just north of the Alps, in the Canton of Berne in Switzerland. The lake took its name from the village Brienz on its northern shore. Interlaken and the villages Matten and Unterseen lie to the south west of the lake. The shores are steep, and there is almost no shallow water...

, Lake Thun
Lake Thun
Lake Thun is an Alpine lake in the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland. It took its name from the city of Thun, on its northern shore.Lake Thun's approximately 2,500 km² large catchment area frequently causes local flooding after heavy rainfalls...

 and Lake Constance
Lake Constance
Lake Constance is a lake on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps, and consists of three bodies of water: the Obersee , the Untersee , and a connecting stretch of the Rhine, called the Seerhein.The lake is situated in Germany, Switzerland and Austria near the Alps...

. Swiss company CGN
Compagnie Générale de Navigation sur le lac Léman
Compagnie Générale de Navigation sur le lac Léman is a public Swiss company operating boats on Lake Geneva connecting towns in both France and Switzerland including Geneva, Vevey, Montreux, Évian-les-Bains and Lausanne....

 operates a number of paddle steamers on Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva or Lake Léman is a lake in Switzerland and France. It is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe. 59.53 % of it comes under the jurisdiction of Switzerland , and 40.47 % under France...

. Their fleet includes three converted to diesel electric power in the 1960s and five retaining steam. One, Montreux, was reconverted in 2000 from diesel to an all-new steam engine. It is the world's first electronically remote-controlled steam engine and has operating costs similar to state-of-the-art diesels, while producing up to 90 percent less air pollution.

United Kingdom

, built in 1947, is the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world. This ship sails a full season of cruises from ports around Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and sailed across the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 to commemorate the sinking of her predecessor of 1899 at the 1940 Battle of Dunkirk
Battle of Dunkirk
The Battle of Dunkirk was a battle in the Second World War between the Allies and Germany. A part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and allied forces in Europe from 26 May–4 June 1940.After the Phoney War, the Battle of...


On the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

, (one of the smallest passenger-carrying vessels of her type) takes trips on the River Medina
River Medina
The River Medina is the main river of the Isle of Wight, rising at St Catherine's Down in the south of the Island and through the capital Newport, towards the Solent at Cowes. The river is a navigable tidal estuary from Newport northwards where it takes the form of a ria . The Medina is 17km long...

. Monarch is a side wheeler built at Chatham Historic Dockyard
Chatham Historic Dockyard
Chatham Historic Dockyard is a maritime museum on part of the site of the former royal/naval dockyard at Chatham in Kent, England.Chatham Dockyard covered 400 acres and was one of the Royal Navy's main facilities for several hundred years until it was closed in 1984. After closure the dockyard was...



In the USSR, river paddle steamers of the type Iosif Stalin (project 373), later renamed Ryazan-class steamships
Ryazan class steamship
Ryazan class steamship is a class of Russian river passenger ships. It is named after the city of Ryazan.Ryazan were two-deck paddle steamers of Soviet Union and Hungarian construction manufactured in 1951-1959....

, were built until 1951. Between 1952 and 1959, ships of this type were built for the Soviet Union by Obuda Hajogyar Budapest factory in Hungary. In total, 75 type Iosif Stalin/Ryazan side-wheelers were built. They are 70 m long and can carry up to 360 passengers. Few of them still remain in active service.


PS Adelaide is the oldest wooden-hulled paddle steamer in the world. Built in 1866, she operates from the Port of Echuca
Echuca, Victoria
Echuca is a town located on the banks of the Murray River and Campaspe river in Victoria, Australia. The Border town Moama is on the northern side of the Murray river in New South Wales. It is the administrative centre and largest settlement in the Shire of Campaspe...

, on Australia's Murray River
Murray River
The Murray River is Australia's longest river. At in length, the Murray rises in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of Australia's highest mountains and, for most of its length, meanders across Australia's inland plains, forming the border between New South Wales and Victoria as it...

, which has the largest fleet of paddle steamers in the world. The replica paddle steamer Curlip
PS Curlip was a paddle steamer built in a Tabbara sawmill in 1889 by Samuel Richardson and his sons. It was operated along the Snowy River in Australia's Gippsland region between 1890 and 1919, before being washed out to sea, and broken on Marlo beach, by a flash flood.- 2008 Replica :The Orbost...

 was constructed in Gippsland
Gippsland is a large rural region in Victoria, Australia. It begins immediately east of the suburbs of Melbourne and stretches to the New South Wales border, lying between the Great Dividing Range to the north and Bass Strait to the south...

, Australia, and launched in November 2008.

PS Kookaburra Queen services the Brisbane River
Brisbane River
The Brisbane River is the longest river in south east Queensland, Australia, and flows through the city of Brisbane, before emptying into Moreton Bay. John Oxley was the first European to explore the river who named it after the Governor of New South Wales, Thomas Brisbane in 1823...

, operating as a floating restaurant or venue for hire.

PS Enterprise, built in Echuca in 1876-78 and now berthed at a wharf on the Acton Peninsula, Lake Burley Griffin
Lake Burley Griffin
Lake Burley Griffin is an artificial lake in the centre of Canberra, the capital of Australia. It was completed in 1963 after the Molonglo River—which ran between the city centre and Parliamentary Triangle—was dammed...

, Canberra
Canberra is the capital city of Australia. With a population of over 345,000, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory , south-west of Sydney, and north-east of Melbourne...

, has been restored to full working order. PS Enterprise was used on the Murray River
Murray River
The Murray River is Australia's longest river. At in length, the Murray rises in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of Australia's highest mountains and, for most of its length, meanders across Australia's inland plains, forming the border between New South Wales and Victoria as it...

, the Darling River
Darling River
The Darling River is the third longest river in Australia, measuring from its source in northern New South Wales to its confluence with the Murray River at Wentworth, New South Wales. Including its longest contiguous tributaries it is long, making it the longest river system in Australia.The...

 and the Murrumbidgee River
Murrumbidgee River
The Murrumbidgee River is a major river in the state of New South Wales, Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory . A major tributary of the Murray River, the Murrumbidgee flows in a west-northwesterly direction from the foot of Peppercorn Hill in the Fiery Range of the Snowy Mountains,...

 in New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

 between 1978 and 1988, when it was recommissioned after restoration.

New Zealand

The restored paddle steamer is based in Wanganui
Whanganui , also spelled Wanganui, is an urban area and district on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It is part of the Manawatu-Wanganui region....

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

. The Waimarie was built in kitset form in Poplar, London
Poplar, London
Poplar is a historic, mainly residential area of the East End of London in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is about east of Charing Cross. Historically a hamlet in the parish of Stepney, Middlesex, in 1817 Poplar became a civil parish. In 1855 the Poplar District of the Metropolis was...

 in 1899, and originally operated on the Whanganui River
Whanganui River
The Whanganui River is a major river in the North Island of New Zealand.Known for many years as the Wanganui River, the river's name reverted to Whanganui in 1991, according with the wishes of local iwi. Part of the reason was also to avoid confusion with the Wanganui River in the South Island...

 under the name Aotea. Later renamed, she remained in service until 1949. She sank at her moorings in 1952, and remained in the mud until raised by volunteers and restored to begin operations again in 2000.

Paddle tugs

The British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 used diesel-electric paddle tugs in recent times. Each paddle wheel was driven by an individual electric motor, giving outstanding maneuverability. Paddle tugs were able to more easily make use of the inherent advantage of side wheel paddle propulsion, having the option to disconnect the clutches that connected the paddle drive shafts as one. This enabled them to turn one paddle ahead and one astern to turn and maneuver quickly.

See also

  • Delta Queen
    Delta Queen
    The Delta Queen is an American sternwheel steamboat that is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. Historically, she has been used for cruising the major rivers that constitute the drainage of the Mississippi River, particularly in the American South. As of June 2009, she is docked in Chattanooga,...

  • Personal paddlewheel boats
  • Roller ship
    Roller ship
    The roller ship, or roller steamer, was an unconventional – and unsuccessful – ship design of the late nineteenth century, which attempted to propel itself by means of large wheels...

  • River cruise
    River cruise
    A River cruise is a voyage along inland waterways, often stopping at multiple ports along the way. Since cities and towns often grew up around rivers, river cruise ships frequently dock in the center of cities and towns.- Descriptions :...

  • Technology of the Song Dynasty

:Category:Steamboat articles by route

External links

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