Gordon's Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power (P.S.) does deliver the trite story of Fulton's steamboat, but also these interesting tidbits about their mechanics:
The paddle wheel reversed this: the machinery turned the wheel to push the water and thus move the boat. But there was one big problem. Early paddle wheels were placed low in the boat so that the bottom half of the wheel was immersed in the water. But most of the energy entered the water more or less horizontally and pushed the water down rather backward. The opposite was true at the end of the stroke, when the paddle pushed the water upward. Only at the bottom of the stroke was useful work being done. It was a Scotsman, William Symington, who found the answer by putting the wheel high, so that only the tips of the paddles entered water, at a point where they could push the water efficiently. [pg. 134]
And the concept that invention isn't what's important, it's expoitation of the invention:
Oliver Evans did not build a steamboat, but he did build the first steam-powered vehicle in the United States - and arguably the world�s first automobile thereby. Commissioned to build a steam dredge for the port of Philadelphia, he produced a vessel thirty feet long and twelve feet wide, which weighed seventeen tons. He mounted a new engine in it, smaller, lighter, and even more efficient than his first model. At his shop about a mile up Market Street from the Schuykill River. He then put the whole thing on wheels and attached the engine to one axle with a chain drive. Giving the contraption the improbable name of Orukter Amphiboles, he set off down Market Street for the river 'with a gentle motion.'
... When Evans reached central Square, he circled around the waterworks several times, literally as well as figuratively running rings around Watt�s low-pressure engine design, before continuing on to the Schuykill, where he dropped the wheels, and the Orukter Amphibolos departed from history to take up its duties as a dredge. [pg. 140-141]