is a rectangular boat with a flat bottom and square
ends used to transport freight
and passengers on inland waterways
. The flatboat could be any size but, essentially, it is a large, sturdy tub with a hull that displaces water and so floats in
the water; therefore, the flatboat is not a raft
, which floats on
the water. A flatboat was almost always a one-way vessel, and was usually dismantled for lumber when it reached its downstream destination. Varieties of flatboat in the early 19th century included the mid-range broadhorn and Kentucky boat, and the longer-range New Orleans boat, which was fully covered.
An average of 3,000 flatboats descended the Ohio River each year between 1810 and 1820. Abraham Lincoln twice piloted a flatboat carrying produce to New Orleans, from Indiana in 1828 and from Illinois in 1831.
The flatboat continued in use even when the steamboat gained popularity because of the lower costs of building and of transport. Dams did away with the flatboat because the boats (having no mechanical power) could not be propelled into the locks.