This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
A novelty in canal boats lies in Charles River, near the foot of Chestnut street, which is calculated to attract considerable attention. It is called a pneumatic canal boat and was built at Wiscasset, Me., as devised by the owner, Mr. R.H. Tucker, of Boston, who claims to hold patents for its design in England and the United States. The specimen shown on Charles River, which is designed to be used on canals without injuring the banks, is a simple structure, measuring sixty-two feet long and twenty wide. It is three feet in depth and draws seventeen inches of water. It is driven entirely by air, Root's blower No. 4 being used, the latter operated by an eight-horse-power engine. The air is forced down a central shaft to the bottom, where it is deflected, and, being confined between keels, passes backward and upward, escaping at the stern through an orifice nineteen feet wide, so as to form a sort of air wedge between the boat and the surface of the water. The force with which the air strikes the water is what propels it. The boat has a speed of four miles an hour, but requires a thirty-five-horsepower engine to develop its full capabilities. The patentee claims a great advantage in doing away with the heavy machinery of screws and side-wheels, and believes that the contrivance gives full results, in proportion to the power employed. It is also contrived for backing and steering by air propulsion. Owing to the slight disturbance which it causes to the water, it is thought to be very well adapted for work on canals without injury to the sides. - Boston Journal.