Chain steam shipping

Chain steam shipping
Postcard showing a chain steamer on river Seine in France. The caption reads "Conflans Sainte-Honorine - An arm of the Seine waterway. A train of barges.".
A model of a German chain steamer on the Elbe.

Chain steam shipping (also chain shipping) is a little known chapter in the history of shipping on European rivers. The chain steamers pull themselves upstream along a fixed chain lying on the ground of a river. The chain was raised from the riverbed to pass over the deck of the steamer. The chain was moved by a heavy winch powered by a steam engine. A lot of different companies operated also on the rivers Elbe, Rhine, Neckar, Main, Saale, Havel, Spree and Saône and some companies also existed in Belgium, Holland and in the USA.

The practice fell out of favour when more modern steam ships with more powerful engines and higher boiler pressures [able to react to the force of the river current] became common.

See also


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