In early America, transportation was extremely important for economic growth. There were no automobiles, of course, and no trains to speak of. That meant that any heavy loads that needed to go any significant distance had to go by water. The problem with that is that it was very difficult to go upstream. Therefore, all major trade had to go downstream, limiting the nation’s economic possibilities. The invention of the steamboat helped to change that. Now, though loads were still largely limited to waterways, they could at least go both ways just as easily. This helped allow more trade to go on in the new nation, thus strengthening its economy.