Marlborough – On Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m., the Marlborough Historical Society will present “The Steam Coffin” at the Peter Rice Homestead, 377 Elm St., Marlborough. This event is free and refreshments will be served. Parking is directly across the street.
John Laurence Busch, author of “Steam Coffin” will tell an incredible tale of the first Steamship – the “Savannah.” Busch is an independent historian who focuses upon the interaction between humanity and technology, with a particular specialization in the first generation of steam-powered vessels. He has devoted years of research to discovering the true story of Captain Moses Rogers and the steamship “Savannah.”
In 1807, a brilliant, creative, and controversial American by the name of Robert Fulton declared his intent to build an experimental “steamboat,” which would be used to initiate a continuous passenger service between New York City and Albany, New York. With the success of his North River Steam Boat, Fulton showed that it was possible for a person to use an artificial power to alter both their location and the amount of time it took to change it.
Moses was one of the first steamboat captains in history, taking command of one of Fulton’s first rivals, the “Phoenix.” In the years immediately following Fulton’s success, running these steamboats on rivers, lakes and bays became a normal and accepted part of American life. But 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, they declared, were just too flimsy and unwieldy to withstand the dangers of the deep.
But Moses believed otherwise. Combining his knowledge of the old mode of transport (sail) with the new mode of transport (steam), he set out to design a vessel that was capable of overcoming the many perils of the sea. This craft would be not a “steamboat,” but a “steamship,” the first of its kind.