The first highways in America were the great rivers, which permitted the growth of commerce and transport. The advent of steam and a brilliant idea by Fulton and Livingston, the first builders of riverboats, made it possible to navigate the great rivers even against the current. The search for speed inspired many incredible competitions.
One of the most famous races is that between Natchez and Robert E. Lee, held in 1870 between New Orleans and Saint Louis. After 750 miles of water the Robert E. Lee won the race, covering the distance in 3 days, 18 hours and 14 minutes.