The first Mississippi steamboat was a packet, the New Orleans, a sidewheeler built at Pittsburgh in 1811, designed for the New Orleans-Natchez trade. Packets dominated during the first forty years of steam, providing the quickest passenger transportation throughout mid-continent America. The packets remained fairly numerous even into the first two decades of the twentieth century when old age or calamity overtook them.
After the initial release in 1983 of Way’s Packet Directory, 1848–1983, the demand was enormous for a similar treatment of the steam towboats that once populated the Mississippi River System. Captain Frederick Way, Jr.,