Sunday, February 26, 2012


In 1787 - a full twenty years before Robert Fulton built the Clermont - engineer, merchant, and tavern keeper James Rumsey, under contract from George Washington, designed and demonstrated a steamship on the Potomac River near Shepherdstown, in what is now West Virginia. Unlike Fulton’s design, Rumsey’s steamboat relied on water being taken in through the hull, accelerated by way of an internal pump, and ejected out the back with enough force to propel the boat forward. Rumsey's design, therefore, was not only North America’s first steamboat, but also its first jet boat.

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