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Old 12-06-2011, 11:38 PM
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I am thinking that it looks like there is a boiler on the barge with a flexible hose leading toward the docks. I doubt the steam was used to run a donkey engine, as those were usually attached to a winch or a pump, and I see no evidence of either on the boat. However, it could have been used to run a portable engine driving a pump or a winch, providing the flexible hose was strong enough to handle the pressures necessary to power a steam engine.
As for "storage boat," there were many warehouse boats on the rivers of the US, and I suppose they were present in seaports as well.
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:46 PM
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There were also "Wharf Boats", and they could be very simple or very elaborate:


This is a wharf boat which was at Cairo Illinois in 1864, looking from the bank. The funnels and pilot house of a steamboat can be seen behind the wharf boat. These would be used when the banks were unsuitable for boats to draw up close to load and unload, or when changes in the river level made permanent docks impossible, which would be most of the nation's rivers in 1864.
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:51 PM
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Corey; You mention that the flatboats, after serving their purpose of transporting goods down the rivers from such wilderness places as Indiana, would often just be sunk, but I have also read that they were often sold for the lumber they were made of, and also that some of the older houses and buildings in New Orleans were constructed from wood of that origin.
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Old 12-07-2011, 06:05 AM
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That wharf boat is awesome. I'm going to make one...I think. Anyhow, Your quite right Thomas about the end run for flat boats. In New Orleans the lumber was of value. The article I read also stated that skifts and barges that were halled upstream by steamer were sunk in the lakes as they lost there usefulness. Not sure if this is because there were just so many or if the liumber it'selve became soft or rotten.

Wow I like that Wharf boat!

CT
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