Atlantic in waves, sailing to left in image. Bodies on deck, in water and on land down in lower right corner.
In this lithograph, Nathaniel Currier illustrates the tragic fate of the steamboat Atlantic. The boat was doomed when a treacherous storm blew in after the vessel left New London. Strong winds caused one of the boilers to explode and the steamboat then ran into the rocks near Fishers Island. Some passengers held on for their life, while others jumped overboard hoping to be rescued. Many passengers were swept away by the vicious waves; in all an estimated 50 people were lost. The Atlantic was launched in May of 1846, and was the first steamboat to introduce gas lights on board. Although ranked highly among steamboats for speed and beauty, the Atlantic was not able to withstand the stormy seas of New England. Currier & Ives illustrated America’s growing interest in technology and transportation. Unfortunately, steamboats were often dangerous and Currier & Ives did a brisk business with the approximately 50 steamboat disaster prints the firm marketed.