One hundred and ninety eight years ago today, Robert Fulton's steamboat, the Clermont, left Manhattan island for Albany. At the time, many people dismissed the idea that a steam engine could successfully propel a boat through the water, and they termed the steamboat "Fulton's Folly." But at one o'clock on that Monday afternoon, the steamboat began its historic journey, reaching Robert Livingston's Clermont estate (for which the boat had been named) exactly twenty-four hours later. The boat stayed there for the night, then resumed its journey on Wednesday, reaching Albany in eight hours. Leaving out the time to rest, the boat had covered the 150 miles from New York City to Albany in a record thirty-two hours. The return trip took only thirty hours.
The Friends of Clermont, who run the Clermont State Historic Site, are working on a bicentennial celebration for 2007. Details can be found here.