The John Fitch Steamboat Museum

Our History

John Fitch Steamboat Museum, Inc. is a non-profit organization in association with the Craven Hall Historical Society, Inc., whose mission was to establish a museum that would house exhibits depicting the adventuresome life of John Fitch and the steamboat that he invented. The museum now includes a six-foot long, steam operated model of the first steamboat service in the world that carried both passengers and freight.  That first commercial steamboat made three round trips on the Delaware River, each week, between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Trenton, New Jersey, during the summer of 1790.  This commercial steamboat traveled at up to 8 miles per hour up the river, this being twice the speed of the first commercial steamboat, of Robert Fulton, that traveled the Hudson River 17 years later.

The museum is located on the grounds of Craven Hall, which are located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Street and Newtown Roads in Warminster Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

The effort was begun with several interested parties within the Craven Hall Historical Society.  It was determined that John Fitch deserved more recognition in the area for the impact that he had on the development of the country, and that something needed to be done to teach our youth and other citizens about the accomplishments of this man.


Our Special Thanks To:  

  • Erik Fleischer, president, Craven Hall Historical Society, whose vision and leadership brought his museum dream to reality.
  • Otto Blavier, whose craftsmanship transformed a masonry garage into a handsome Museum interior.
  • Harding Lindhult, who conceived and created the museum’s text and graphic panels to relate the John Fitch story.
  • Andrea Sutcliffe, author of “STEAM, the Untold Story of America’s First Great Invention,” who inspired and critiqued museum panel text.
  • Paul F. Johnston, Ph.D., curator, Maritime Collections, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, who critiqued the text.
  • James Gafgen, sculptor, who created the maquette of John Fitch presenting his first steamboat model in 1785 to the American Philosophical Society.
  • Fred Rossé, whose model making skills created the six-foot, operating model of the world’s first commercial steamboat built and operated by John Fitch in 1790.

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