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WALK-IN-THE-WATER

WALK-IN-THE-WATER, the first steamboat on Lake Erie, was built at Black Rock, NY, in 1818 under the supervision of Noah Brown and Robert Fulton. A paddlewheel-driven boat 132' long and 32' across the beam, it had a smokestack 30' high set between 2 sails, which were used when the winds were strong enough. Its first captain was Job Fish. The steamer could accommodate 100 cabin passengers and a large number in steerage; it also had a smoking room, a baggage room, and a dining room. The origin of its name is uncertain; it may have been named for Wyandot Indian Chief Walk-in-the-Water or, according to Capt. Baton Atkins of Buffalo, NY, may have been adopted from the exclamation "walks in the water," made by an Indian upon seeing Fulton's first boat, the Clermont, in 1807. Walk-in-the-Water's maiden voyage from Buffalo began on 25 August 1818, with 29 passengers bound for Erie, Grand River, Cleveland, Sandusky, and Detroit. Traveling about 8-10 mph, the steamer completed the entire trip in about 9 days. Cost was $18 for a cabin and $7 for steerage. When it arrived in Cleveland, most of the village inhabitants came to greet it. After running aground near Erie in September, the boat was repaired and became the first steamboat in Lake Michigan when it traveled to Mackinaw and Green Bay in 1819. Walk-in-the-Water was wrecked during foul weather on 1 Nov. 1821 near Buffalo while carrying 18 passengers and a full cargo, but all on board survived. The loss was estimated at $10,000-$12,000. After the wreck, the engine was placed in the Superior.