In 1844, nearly a hundred years ago, the first log raft was floated down the Mississippi River. No power was used. The raft moved with the current and was guided by long oars or sweeps fastened on the back or stern of the rat. Strenuous working of the sweeps was required to keep the cumbersome raft in the main channel of the river.
Boeckh, Fred E.
"Rafting on the Mississippi,"
Ames Forester: Vol. 21
, Article 7.
Available at: https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/amesforester/vol21/iss1/7