Canal building enjoyed a brief hey day in America from the 1820s into the 1840s. Although steamboat technology was quickly adopted on the western rivers after 1812 because
it so readily improved communication and commerce in the nation's interior, it was largely shunned on canals. The bulk cargoes that canals came to carry were low in value and did not justify the expense of steam power. Furthermore, turbulence from powered boats eroded canal banks and endangered the very structure of these expensive waterways. Inventors rarely confronted the first constraint, but they repeatedly addressed the second.
Everson's solution was to place a single paddle wheel in a long, straight-sided channel, which would "confine the water...so that its expulsion is directly backward." For strength he designed the tug with two decks, heavily reinforced with internal framing. His model elegantly shows the complexity of this framing. Although he specified the use of two rudders, Everson made no mention of an engine for turning the paddle wheel.
Walter Everson, Tug for Towing Canal Boats, U.S. patent no. 110,754, Jan. 3, 1871.
1880 United States Census, NARA film no. T9-847, 152B.