On the French Frontier 1700-1800
The Royal Convoy

The French royal government financed the building of the bateaux* in order to encourage trade between the Illinois colonies and New Orleans. These boats were owned by their skippers--highly skilled boatmen who knew the river by heart. The bateaux were shallow, flat vessels with pointed ends.

The bateaux can be compared to today's semi-trucks. They could carry up to 32,000 pounds or 16 tons of commercial products and agricultural goods. Semi-trucks can carry up to 50,000 pounds or 25 tons of commercial products and agricultural goods. The bateaux measured 40 ft. in length by 9 ft. in width, tapering to 4 ft. at each end. Semi-trucks average 48 ft. in length by 8 ft. in width.

The convoy was a group of boats traveling together for mutual aid and defense. Sometimes truckers will "convoy" as they drive across the country delivering commercial products or agricultural goods from one area to another.

*Bateaux is French for boats

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© Illinois State Museum 31-Dec-96