Flat boat front center with six men on top, one sitting on right hand oar; five-paddle river boats in background; one in center with American flag.
Flatboats, used to carry freight down the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers during the first half of the 19th century, were a thing of the past when Currier & Ives issued this print in 1870. Possibly designed after George Caleb Bingham’s famous painting, Jollyflatboatmen of 1846, Bound Down the River celebrates the traditional methods of shipping crops and objects through waterways for sale to markets on the East Coast. Currier & Ives show the sailors enjoying themselves, reflecting the many historic accounts that the men who traveled the rivers by flatboat were boisterous and enjoyed dancing and music. Five steamships, which could travel the same distance in a few days that took a flatboat several months, can be seen in the background. Currier & Ives often combined images of past technology, such as the flatboat, with examples of industrialization, such as the steamboat, to illustrate how traditional methods and modern advancements could co-exist.