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Last Updated: 07 May 2022

"I employed the steamboat Newark to take in tow 2 keel boats, of 60 bunches problem, and 80 feet lengthy each, at $13 per head, to take the detachment from Tuscumbia to Little Rock [The keelboats] were roomy, well covered, painted, completely dry, maintained frequently clean and well aerated, using side doors, which managed the Indians the means of resting without being exposed to the night air or severe weather. , Dr. John S. Young, June 25, 183 Between 1837 and 1839, four Cherokee detachments used eight keelboats for their journeys to Indian Territory Keelboats took their name from their building, long, narrow boats constructed with a keel giving security. While very early keelboats were outftted with a back cabin, later on versions commonly had a much bigger center cabin, or freight box, for shelter and storage space Keelboats were outfitted with sails and rigging and propelled by wind, rowing, poling, or hand-winching upstream via the rigorous eforts of their teams. Along the border of the gunwales, or upper side of the sides of the boat, ran a 12- to 18-inch cleated footway for the staff to stroll when they were poling the boat Te bow of the boat was outftted with four to twelve seats for oarsmen During the Trail of Tears, nevertheless, keelboats were towed, indicating that the space for rowers might be used by passengers. While no photos are known to exist of the keelboats used in the Cherokee removal, period accounts ofer contrasting summaries of their look U S Army Lt Edward Deas, for instance, explained the first keelboat used in his April 1838 detachment as one large Keel with double cabins that was wide. Deas explained the keelboats used in his June 1838 detachment as merely dual deck keels.

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