This post is kinda related to Saturdays post when I brought up the pole boats on the Savannah River. Unfortunately I can't find an image of a pole boat but picture a flat bottom boat that on the two sides a man could walk up and down push the boat on the river by use of a pole.
These boats were the working boats on many rivers. Men would walk down the length of the boat while pushing a pole into the riverbed below, moving the boat either up stream or down. It was hard work but it was necessary for the growth of our country. Pole boats were a part of the first half of the 19th Century. Steamboats would soon make the need for these obsolete. Today these types of boats are still used on rivers in poorer countries.
What made a pole boat good as a working/shipping vessel was the flat bottom and low draft, allowing them to navigate rivers with their various sandbars. They also seemed to hold a fair amount of weight. Many pole boats were equipped with planks along the sides to allow the workers an easier navigating experience. Pole boat workers were men that could be trusted. They had to be, an entire year's profit could go overboard with the careless actions of an inexperienced worker.