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It would appear that extensive Atlantic steamship activity preceded 1870 by quite a bit. See

A quote from "Ocean Steamships - 1882 - Crossing the Atlantic in the Late 1800's"


"Thirty years ago sixteen days was a fair allowance for the passage between England and New York by steam. By gradual steps the point was reached when eleven days was the minimum, and this startled the world. Then began a rivalry between the Inman and White Star lines, attended by a succession of runs showing a gradual increase of speed, which proved a great advertisement for these lines.

In 1871 the average time of twenty-four crack voyages by these lines was eight days, fifteen hours and three minutes. The Adriatic's best westward time was forty-three minutes less. It should be remembered that the westward passage is generally longer than in the other direction, owing to westerly winds and the Gulf Stream. "

See also

1838 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Great_Western


1843 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Great_Britain

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