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Connecticut River Valley Steam Boat Company


The Connecticut River Valley Steam Boat Company was formed in Hartford, Connecticut as a public corporation to improve navigation on the Connecticut River by building a series of light-draft steamboats to provide transportation on the river in stages. On January 29, 1831, the firm’s first stockholder meeting was held in Windsor, Vermont. The first issue of 2,000 shares of stock at $25.00 each was fully subscribed. A board of directors was chosen and from them Hon. Jonathan H. Hubbard of Windsor was appointed president. Elisha Peck of Hartford, Charles Stearns of Springfield, Massachusetts and Frances E. Phelps Esq. of Windsor were appointed to the executive committee. The firm built and outfitted a variety of steamboats, including the John Ledyard, the William Hall, and the Ariel Cooley. The John Ledyard achieved notoriety in June 1831 when, piloted by Captain Samuel Nutt, it became the first steamboat to attempt to travel more than 200 miles from Hartford to Wells River. Ten miles short of the goal, however, the boat ran aground on a sandbar and had to be hauled free by manpower. The firm also built at least three other light-draft, 20 horsepower steamboats to cover individual legs of the Connecticut. The William Holmes was built to cover the distance from Turner’s Falls to Bellows Falls, the David Porter to cover Bellows Falls to the Sumner’s Falls lock, and the Adam Duncan to cover Sumner’s Falls to White River Junction, Vermont. Passengers could purchase transferable tickets good for 20 miles each. However, the idea never proved profitable and by 1832, the company had failed. The Adam Duncan operated until July 4, 1832 when a pipe connected to the boiler burst, releasing hot water and steam and causing one passenger, Dr. Dean of Bath, to jump overboard and drown. The next month, all of the property of the Connecticut River Valley Steam Boat Company was put up for auction in Hartford, including the six boats, each with its fittings, equipment, furniture and wood fuel. Mills Olcott (DC 1790), who served as Dartmouth’s Treasurer from 1816 to 1822 and who owned and operated the lock at Olcott Falls, was a shareholder in the company. After its collapse, he purchased the Adam Duncan in 1833.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Connecticut River Valley Steam Boat Company records

Identifier: MS-996
Overview Connecticut River Valley Steam Boat Company. (1831-1832). The collection consists of correspondence, promissory notes pertaining to the sale of the steamboat "Adam Duncan," stock certificates, balance sheets, and passenger tickets documenting the business of the company.