International Steamboat Muster To Commemorate 200 Years of Steamboating

By Staff

An International Steamboat Muster will take place at Pawtucket,
Rhode Island’s waterfront this summer. The event, on August
21-23, will commemorate the bicentennial of the invention and
construction of a steamboat by Elijah Ormsbee and David
Wilkinson.

The Muster will feature the tenth annual Antique & Classic
Boat Show and Meet, sponsored by Beckmann Limited, of Wakefield,
R.I., builders of steam launches and tugboats. Steam powered
watercraft from all over the Northeast and Canada are expected to
participate.

On August 22, steam craft will take part in a flotilla on the
Pawtucket River. In the afternoon, the boats will steam by and be
reviewed by a panel of judges.

Public viewing will be available throughout the weekend at the
site of the former Parents Marina, off School Street, along the
city’s waterfront. The Pawtucket Jaycees will offer shore
dining under tent featuring chowder, clamcakes and watermelon.

The weekend will commemorate a day in 1792 when Ormsbee and
Wilkinson first steamed down the Pawtucket River to the Seekonk
River and on toward Providence, fifteen years prior to Robert
Fulton’s operating his steamboat to Clermont on the Branch
River in New York’s Hudson Valley.

The Pawtucket River is the continuation of the Blackstone River
where it flows over the falls south of Slater Mill. South of the
city, the river becomes the Seekonk River and flows southward into
the Narraganset Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. In 1790, Samuel Slater
brought from England the principle of the Arkwright Spinning Jenny
and started this nation’s first successful water powered cotton
spinning mill. The Blackstone River Valley is recognized as the
birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution and was designated
a National Heritage Corridor by Congress in 1986.

Also to be celebrated is the centennial of the passenger vessel
Petrel, which was built by the Pawtucket Steamboat Company in 1892
and was the finest of many commercial steamboats to operate on the
river. During the weekend, harbor tours will be available aboard a
passenger vessel owned and operated by Blount Marine of Warren,
R.I. This excursion boat is a prototype of a proposed river craft
to be built to navigate the Pawtucket River and sections of the
Blackstone River and Canal.

Steam enthusiasts may arrange to participate by writing the
Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, P.O. Box 7663, Cumberland, R.I.,
02864 or by calling the Tourism Council at (401)334-7773.

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