Reading for TOEFL – Steamboats

Reading for TOEFL – Steamboats

Questions 1 – 10 refer to the following passage.

Steamboats were shallow-draft boats propelled by steam-driven paddle wheels. In the nineteenth century, they could be seen every day on rivers, particularly on the Mississippi River and its principal tributaries in the United States.

The development of the steamboat as a practical means of transportation began in America in 1787, but it wasn’t until 1811 that a steamboat was built specifi-cally to travel along the lower Missis-sippi River. The boat, called appropri-ately the New Orleans, was built at Pittsburgh, Pa., for Robert Fulton and Robert R. Livingston. In 1812, the two men began operating a regular steam-boat service between New Orleans and Natchez, Mississippi. Their vessels traveled at eight miles per hour downstream and three upstream.

In 1816, Henry Miller Shreve launched his steamboat Washington, and soon became known as the father of Mississippi navigation, because he adapted steamboat design to fit the shallow wa-ters of the river. He installed the engine high up above the water line and mounted it on a hull that was as shallow as that of a barge. He also added a tall second deck, and afterwards all Missis-sippi steamboats copied Shreve’s design. From then on and until about 1870, the steamboat dominated the economy, agriculture, and commerce of the middle area of the United States.

By 1834, there were 1,200 steamboats, carrying not only cotton and sugar, but also passengers who enjoyed luxuriously appointed lounges with rich rugs, oil paintings, and chandeliers. Many steam-boats were famous for their chefs, or-chestras, and large staffs of maids and butlers to assist their cabin passengers.

Steamboat pilots had to memorize or guess at the depths of the river and its potential obstacles along long stretches of river in order to navigate safely. The average life span of a steamboat was only four to five years, because most of the vessels were poorly constructed and maintained. They sank after hitting sand bars and hidden rocks in the river, and many of their boilers exploded, causing many deaths among their passengers. By the 1870s, railroads had become more efficient modes of transport and gradu-ally caused the retirement of almost all the steamboats from the river.

1. In the passage, it is implied that steam-boats were used mainly

  • A. in New Orleans
  • B. in Washington, D.C.
  • C. along the Hudson River
  • D. in the Mississippi River valley

2. Which of the following is closest in mean-ing to the word “tributaries” as used in line 6 of the passage?

  • A. A party honoring a famous person
  • B. A stream that flows into another
  • C. A three-wheeled vehicle
  • D. A state that has a border on three other states

3. According to the passage, in what year were steamboats operating regularly on the Mississippi?

  • A. 1810
  • B. 1811
  • C. 1812
  • D. 1813

4. Which of the following does the phrase “means of transportation” as used in line 9 refer to?

  • A. Steamboat
  • B. America
  • C. Built specifically
  • D. Travel

5. According to the passage, how fast did the New Orleans travel downstream be-tween New Orleans and Natchez?

  • A. 3 miles per hour
  • B. 8 miles per hour
  • C. 13 miles per hour
  • D. 18 miles per hour

6. According to the passage why was Henry Shreve called the “father of Mississippi navigation”?

  • A. He designed a steering mechanism that other steamboats used.
  • B. He was born and raised in a small village on the banks of the Mississippi.
  • C. He printed maps for the steamboat captains and pilots.
  • D. He adapted steamboat design to fit the shallow waters of the river.

7. Which of the following is the closest in meaning to the phrase “from then on” as used in line 33 in the passage?

  • A. Subsequently
  • B. Consequently
  • C. Apparently
  • D. Thoroughly

8. According to the passage, after the 1830s, steamboats had all of the follow-ing EXCEPT:

  • A. Orchestras
  • B. Chefs and maids
  • C. Chandeliers
  • D. Air conditioning

9. According to the passage, how long did the average steamboat remain afloat?

  • A. Two to three years
  • B. Three to four years
  • C. Four to five years
  • D. Five to six years

10. Where can the following sentence best be added to the passage?

Mark Twain, a steamboat pilot who became one of America’s greatest writers, told about his brother’s death in a steamboat explosion in his book Life on the Mississippi.

  • A. After the words “Mississippi River” in paragraph 2
  • B. After the phrase “Shreve’s design” in paragraph 3
  • C. After the word “chandeliers” in para-graph 4
  • D. After the phrase “their passengers” in paragraph 5

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