This section of our website was created by a researcher who has retired. These pages are not maintained.
Some Additional Information
Packing the Cargo for Shipment
In the 1790s, most of what was shipped was packed in wooden barrels. If you can find a barrel and ship in that, fine. But you will find it difficult to fit a weather tight head onto it. Do not use the big whiskey barrels sold in garden shops and Agway.
A good alternative is a wooden crate or box. If you can find a light packing box, such as one that wine is shipped in, that would be perfect. You can just paint over the labels or paste on a paper label of your own. Do not use very light and flimsy crates like the ones fruit comes in. Or contact your local BOCES carpentry class for help.
If you make a box, it should be light wood, like 1/2" thick pine. It should be soundly made, weather tight, and strong enough to hold the weight of your cargo. Pack contents in straw or, if necessary, newspaper. Everything should be well wrapped in paper and anything that could be damaged by moisture should be wrapped in wax paper or even plastic. The project has more impact if you use only old-style materials in your packaging. But if a product is destroyed because of that, it would be better to use plastic.
Use several boxes if you like.
Some Thoughts on Transportation in the 1790s
Transportation costs were added to the production costs to fix the selling price of a commodity. Goods shipped by water had costs added on that included batteaumen's wages. Wages increased with the time spent on the trip and the difficulty of the navigation.
The improvements made in the navigation route by the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company between 1792 and 1803 made shipping easier, faster, and more dependable. Boats were no longer delayed by low water, risky rapids, or time-consuming portages which required boats to be unloaded and reloaded. The improvement of the channel meant bigger boats could use the navigation, which greatly reduced the cost of shipping.
In 1792, a 30 foot batteau driven by three boatmen could move 1 1/2 tons of goods slowly on the river. By 1812 a 60 foot Durham boat driven by six men could move 12 tons of goods quickly on the same river. The boat was twice as big and took twice as many men to drive it, but it moved 7 times as much cargo.
Of course the WILNC which had improved this navigation charged tolls at the canals it had built, but the overall effect was to decrease the cost of shipping.
Compare the big boats and improved navigation after the WILNC completed its works with the big trucks on the New York State Thruway after the State completed it in the 1950s. What does improved transportation mean for the economy and welfare of the State?
Back to the beginning.
The goods shipped upriver.
The goods shipped downriver.