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Steam Coffin
Steam Coffin

Steam Coffin

Captain Moses Rogers and The Steamship Savannah Break the Barrier


736 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Cloth

Cloth, $35.00 (US $35.00) (CA $39.00)

Publication Date: June 2010

ISBN 9781893616004

Rights: US & CA

Hodos Historia (Jun 2010)

Price: $35.00


For millennia, humans well-knew that there was a force far more powerful than they upon the Earth, and that was Nature itself. They could only dream of overcoming its power, or try to believe in the myths and fables of others who supposedly had done so. Then, at the dawn of the 19th century, along came a brilliant, creative, controversial American by the name of Robert Fulton. In the late summer of 1807, he ran his experimental “steamboat” from New York City to Albany, not once, but repeatedly. With these continuing commercial trips, Fulton showed that it was possible to alter artificially both a person’s location and the amount of time it took to change it. In so doing, he also broke through an enormous psychological barrier that had existed in people’s minds; it was, in fact, possible to overcome Nature to practical effect. But running these steamboats on rivers, lakes and bays was one thing. Taking such a vessel on a voyage across the ocean was a different proposition altogether. Experienced mariners didn't think it could be done. These early steamboats were just too flimsy and unwieldy to withstand the dangers of the deep. Yet there was at least one man who believed otherwise. His name was Captain Moses Rogers. He set out to design a steam vessel that was capable of overcoming the vicissitudes of the sea. This craft would be not a steamboat, but a steamship, the first of its kind. Finding a crew for such a new-fangled contraption proved to be exceedingly difficult. Mariners—conditioned as they were to “knowing the ropes” of a sailing ship—looked upon this new vessel, and its unnatural means of propulsion, with the greatest suspicion. To them, it was not a "Steam Ship"—instead, it was a "Steam Coffin."


"Written in a very readable narrative style, Steam Coffin is compelling, engaging and highly recommended." —WindCheck Magazine

“Steam Coffin is remarkable in that it is able to present the macro and micro pictures in a graceful and engaging narrative . . . Busch wrote this book for a general, non-nautical audience, because he explains everything, including the most basic terms . . . He has an eye for the telling quotation . . . A fascinating account of early 19th century technology . . . and the entrepreneurial spirit of the age.” —PowerShips Magazine

“The author displays a remarkable array of historical research in developing this substantial account . . . There are comprehensive source notes and a splendid index . . . It should delight anyone with an interest in the history of the development of the steamship . . . a story well worth telling.” —Nautical Magazine (UK)

“This important, well-researched, and extensively illustrated book should appeal to readers interested in . . . [the] trailblazing efforts of the Savannah's entrepreneurial principals, including the ship's Connecticut-born master. Busch helps readers understand and appreciate the struggle . . . to introduce a radical, next-generation steam powered vessel to blue water.” —Connecticut History Magazine

“Busch's supremely readable account of the development and construction of the Savannah...and the passionate career of Captain Moses Rogers, represents the creation of a long-needed missing piece of maritime history...It may properly be termed a page-turner, and is strongly recommended.” —(mt) Marine Technology Magazine

“Moses Rogers, a remarkable individual, saw in steam power the capacity to . . . make oceanic travel reliable and predictable. Busch sets out the odyssey with the support of beautiful maps and illustrations of many of the people and places Savannah encountered on its adventure. The book, manufactured to high standards, is worth the purchase price and the time to read it.” —Sea History Magazine

“What makes this volume is the excellent research and the fitting of the achievement into the historical events of the period . . . extremely well crafted. If only all history books were as readable.” —Archive: The Quarterly Journal for British Industrial and Transport History (UK)

“Busch's excellent biography of Captain Moses Rogers and his history of PS Savannah . . . is a commendable and distinguished contribution to the maritime historical literature. The author’s narrative is made all the more interesting by his detailed research into the life of Captain Rogers, which provides a tremendous volume of previously unknown information.” —International Journal of Maritime History (Canada)

Author Biography

John Laurence Busch is an independent historian who has uncovered a wealth of never-before-published information on Moses Rogers and the Savannah. He lives in Connecticut.