Published by the Sons & Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen
America's Steam & Diesel Riverboat Magazine

Navigation on the Cumberland began as it did on all the inland rivers – log rafts, flatboats and keelboats floating goods downstream to market. Natural trading centers and towns sprung up along the Cumberland as they did on all waterways, and as the populations and the need for commerce increased, so did the need for an improved waterway. The first steamboat to try the Cumberland was the GENERAL JACKSON in 1818, and the boat started up the Cumberland but was stopped by low water at Harpeth Shoals near the mouth of the Harpeth River. The boat attempted to get to Nashville again in 1919, but was stopped again by low water at Harpeth Shoals. The crew of the GENERAL JACKSON was in the process of unloading cargo for transshipment to Nashville when a sudden rise allowed them to continue up the river to their destination. Nashville newspapers and others tried to rally support for river improvements at Harpeth Shoals, to no avail. Steamboats began towing flatboats and keelboats over the shoals in high water to get as much cargo as possible over the obstruction before the river fell, but many steamers were damaged or sunk there ­– the GENERAL JACKSON ended up sinking at Harpeth Shoals in 1821.

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