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Old 02-08-2017, 06:53 PM
HeyHomie HeyHomie is offline
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Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Viburnum, MO
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How Dangerous Was Travel, c. 1857?

A commercial I saw recently depicts a German immigrant crossing the Atlantic Ocean, and traveling up the Mississippi River, being beset by calamity every step of the way. His ocean crossing was rough and seems to have battered him up pretty badly. The paddle-wheeler he was on also caught fire. I'm going to assume that he was also frequently at risk of being set upon by brigands who wanted to rob him.

Putting aside the matter of the seafaring portion of his voyage (which I assume was pretty consistently fraught with peril in those days), was paddle-wheel travel statistically dangerous? I know that there were several such tragedies in their era (fires and running aground and whatnot), but in terms of number of passengers carried, was a paddle-wheel voyage a statistically safe undertaking?

Also, in those days, when you were aboard a ship/paddle-wheeler, or a train, were you at risk of being set upon by bandits? Or did safety in numbers come into play? Did ships/paddle-wheeler and train companies have on-board security - perhaps even armed security - for the passengers?


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