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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Steaming down the Savannah
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Roger Allen

Note: The following is part of a series of columns exploring the use of rivers in the early history of Georgia and Bulloch County.

The Savannah and Augusta Steamboat Company was incorporated in 1836, and it also had bad luck with many of its boats. The Oglethorpe blew up at Beck's Landing, the Elbert burned at Buzzard's Bay, and the Augusta collided with the steamship the City of Atlanta.

The Steam Packet Line had the H.L. Cook and the Ivanhoe making the run between Savannah and Augusta twice weekly in each direction.

Companies continued to be chartered: the River Steamboat Company, the Savannah and Augusta Steamboat Company and the Savannah and Charleston Steam Packet Company, all in 1836.

After some 10 years, the Georgia Steam Packet Company (1838) was chartered. Joining these companies were the New York and Savannah Steam Navigation Company (1847) and the Hancock Steamboat Company (1850).

In 1851, the Union Steamboat Company of Georgia and South Carolina was formed. As it served both Hamburg, South Carolina, and Augusta, Georgia, it was often called the Augusta and Hamburg Steamboat Company.

This line was founded by two merchant companies - the Wood, Claghorn and Company and the Jones and Papot Company - for the purpose of serving their own commercial interests.

After the Civil War's end, the Savannah and Augusta Lines' steamers (the Katie, the Rosa and the Swan), along with the Southern Transportation Company's steamers, began running between Savannah and Augusta.

The "Annual Report of the Committee on Commerce of the United States Senate" (1892) reported that "in 1880, prior to the improvement, there were two steamboats plying upon the river."

However, "during 1890, six river boats ... carrying 39,110 tons of freight, valued at $2,346,000 ... (and an estimated) 23,500 tons of logs, timber, and cord wood, valued at $83,000, were rafted or lightered."

Of the 1889 cotton crop, 201,000 bales were sent to Augusta. Of these, 80,000 stayed in Augusta, 73,000 went to Savannah (only 7,000 were carried on the river), and 48,000 went to Port Royal, Charleston, Wilmington and Norfolk by various railroads.

The Augusta Steamboat Company was established in 1887 and operated two boats, the Progress and the Advance. In addition, the Broad River Steamboat Company carried passengers and freight to both Augusta and Savannah.

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email Roger at



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