Read “Ships of the Great Lakes: What Fueled Their Success?” an interesting history, by Richard Mueller, about shipping on the Great Lakes and the varying types of propulsion technology that has driven commerce for over 300 years.
Excerpt from the article: “The earliest record of navigation on the upper Great Lakes dates back to 1679, when shipbuilder Robert Sieur de La Salle built the 70-foot “galliot” Griffin, just upstream of the Niagara Falls; powered by sail, fueled by wind. For almost two hundred years, sail was king! As a major trade route in an area extremely rich with natural resources, port cities from Montreal to Duluth thrived with the hustle and bustle of vessels transporting grain, lumber, iron ore, salt, coal, furs and more to markets all over the world. In terms of propulsion and fuels, a lot has changed since the earliest Great Lakes schooners, as they slowly traveled the twisted rivers and sometimes shallow harbors and rivers of the Great Lakes.
The transition of sail-powered schooners to paddle-wheel steamboats was slow on the Lakes, as the amount of trade being carried at the time could not justify the high cost of the construction. After almost two centuries of sail and wind, it wasn’t until a dual-purpose steamboat came on.”