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Steamboat a Comin’: The Legacy of the New Orleans


The first steamboat to successfully navigate America’s western inland rivers, the New Orleans, altered American life forever by hastening the opening of the American West and transforming the landscape, economy and culture of the United States. This exhibit introduces the adventurers who first dared to take a steamboat on the Ohio River, the technology they used and the ramification – both positive and negative – of their actions. Steamboat a Comin’: The Legacy of the New Orleans provides viewers with an understanding and appreciation of the adventurous spirit that colored much of early river travel, the technological achievements, the vast impact on landscape and economy, and the rich culture we have today as a result.

The Rivers Institute at Hanover College sponsored this traveling exhibit to mark the bicentennial in 2011 of the first steamboat to successfully voyage down the Ohio River.

The Indiana Historical Society has also created curriculum materials related to the story of the New Orleans and the legacy of steamboats on Indiana and American history. You may download these free materials as either a pre- or post-visit activity by visiting www.indianahistory.org/steamboat.

Ideas for use: Invite a steamboat-themed speaker for a program, create your own display of steamboat or transportation related materials, interview local residents about how a change in transportation technology affected their lives, or host a sing-along of river-related songs from the past 200 years. 

This exhibit consists of 19 one-sided, freestanding banner stands. (Three are 4-feet wide, 16 are 3-feet wide). It can be arranged to fit different floor configurations. It requires at least 300 square feet of floor space.

Click here for a detailed layout description.

To book an exhibit, please contact Karen DePauw at localhistoryservices@indianahistory.org or (317) 233-3110.