The Causes Of The Steamboating Trade?

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The steamboating trade was entirely dependent on the weather which would dictate the rise and fall of water levels and as such it was a seasonal trade. In the upper Mississippi where winter would bite hard, rivers would freeze over for at least four months out of every year, if not longer. The ice was not just a concern during the winter months though. When rising waters and breaking ice occurred in early spring, it created floating hazards, which were known to cause appalling damage to vessels. The ice would puncture the hull of a vessel like it was made of so much tissue paper and floating masses of ice were also known to crush steamboats. As such it was not uncommon for dozens of boats to be lost in a single year.

Captains would often weigh this risk though, leaving too early could mean damage to the vessel but it also meant more lead and other valuable cargo would be available as the season started. Passengers that were stranded during the winter months would often pay inflated rates during early spring due to the lack of competition. Raw materials also fetched a higher price after the winter months, this meant that miners were often eager to see their minerals to market to benefit from the higher prices. This meant that they were often willing to pay steamboat captains handsomely to ensure that their product was put in circulation as soon as possible. Such was the benefit of starting early in the season that some captains needed only to operate during the early

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