Steamboat Illustrations, Page 10

newspaper with steamboat photos

This paper was laminated which probably kept it intact (browning wood pulp paper, color correction during scanning makes it look about as good as new). Full article continued on another page that wasn't included with this one but this stands nicely on its own.

dixie printing plate


steamboat illustration

This was a printed graphic that was vignetted in a Southern Comfort advertising mirror hung in "saloons" and/or bars. The pilot house and its windows are a bit small but you can't have everything.


Comp I made with Twain from an old advertisement by an artist named Brissaud for Old Crow or one of those boozes and put some calendar art of the initialed only "A.C." of the GC Greene in the background. The styles of the two pieces of art was quite different but it's good enough for government work . . .


Took a graphic of Twain which had a not particularly good face and standing beside him was a red setter dog. I got a face from another source, touched out the dog and borrowed a cat from Norman Rockwell. Now we're cookin' . . .

Sideny Riesenberg illustration of Mark Twain

Sidney Riesenberg's illustration of "Mark Twain the riverboat pilot" where you'll see red spots before your eyes on his green shirt. Nice stripe'd awning up front which I haven't seen on a pilot house elsewhere. Cleanest "spittoon" you've ever seen there too.

This eye popper was painted for:

by Joseph Lewis French
Published by Milton Bradley, 1929

All together nineteen American "pioneers" were given the juvenile biography treatment including Lewis and Clark, Kit Carson, Daniel Boone, John C. Fremont, Charles Lindbergh, and 12 others.


The Literary Digest, August 17, 1929


A roustabout named "Pig Meat," who had bet his shoes on the Betsy Ann, refused to give them up. He swore that both boats had won. Many others said the same thing, and, indeed, 'twas a very tricky finish to a neck-and-neck race—the closest packet race ever seen, according to historians of the big river.

A Cincinnati Times-Star writer breaks into verse about it:

Heads you cash, tails you lose,
Dis darky don't give up his shoes!
If Tom Greene's bow was de winning boss,
De Betsy's stern-wheel was de first to cross!

And then, relapsing into prose, he explains that "the Tom Greene's bow crossed the line ten feet ahead of the Betsy's but the Betsy is forty feet smaller than the Tom, and so the Betsy's entire length, including her wheel, crossed the line thirty feet ahead of the Tom Greene's sternwheel. That was enough of a technicality for the roustabouts to make a grand palaver over. They will argue the question on the riverboats the rest of their lives. The Tom Greene received the formal cup of victory, but the Betsy Ann received her full mead of applause and honors."

Just at this time last year, THE DIGEST chronicled a race between that little thirty-year-old speed queen, Betsy Ann, and another of her larger modern, rivals, the Chris Greene. That revival of old-time Mississippi Steamboat racing was such a success that this year the Betsy Ann was pitted against the Tom Greene, and 100,000 people saw the race, which was accompanied, we are told, by an incidental music of sirens, drone of diving airplanes, raving of rival roustabouts, and barking of dogs and radio-announcers. Charles Ludwig, the writer we have already quoted, continues his account with this piece of word painting:

A Niagara of spindrift dashed over the bows of the two steamboats as they battled their way nose and nose over the twenty-two-mile course from the Cincinnati levee to New Richmond, Ohio.

The Tom Greene generally was in the lead from five to thirty feet, and the race was so close that at one time the two boats were locked side by side for a moment, attracted by the suction their wheels created.

It was at first announced that the race would end at the dam below Richmond, and here, with both steamers tugging their mightiest, the boats were running about even, the Greene being perhaps a few feet ahead.

Then, it was declared that the contest would not be officially concluded till the boats reached New Richmond, a mile farther up the river. This last mile afforded the keenest rivalry between the boats. Sometimes the Betsy would make a spurt, and then the Tom Greene would forge ahead. It was an even race in this final stage, too.

The Tom Greene managed to cling onto her slight lead, and finished ten feet ahead, amid cheers from the passengers, the blowing of whistles, songs of Boy Scouts, and shouts of the crowd on the shore.

W. C. Culkins, vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce and secretary of time Ohio Valley Improvement Association, and Slack Barrett, of the Barrett Lines, were the official judges. The race was so close that Barrett, who had taken along a measuring line, was prepared to use it on the two gang-planks of the boats to convince Betsy Ann followers of the accuracy of the decision, but this was not necessary.

The time for covering the twenty-two miles was two hours and nineteen minutes.

Weather was ideal when the race started from the Cincinnati levee shortly after 5 P.M. There were crowds on both boats. Mrs. Mary Greene, widow of Capt. Gordon C. Greene, and the only woman steamboat captain and pilot on the river, was in command of the Tom Greene. But Mrs. Greene acted chiefly as hostess to the passengers, and her son, Capt. Torn Greene, had charge of the actual operation, assisted by his brother, Capt. Chris Greene. Captain Chris and his boat, the Chris Greene, defeated the Betsy Ann in the memorable race a year ago.

The youthful Capt. Frederick Way, owner of the Betsy Ann, was aboard his boat and Capt. Charles Ellsworth was in. charge, with Wirt Jordan as chief engineer. Officers of the Betsy claimed that at the New Richmond dam they were about three feet in the lead.

George Wise, twenty-five, youngest chief engineer on the river, was in charge of the engines of the Tom Greene. Wise said that about the middle of the race a steam pipe under the floor of the engine-room sprang a leak, which made it impossible to use maximum pressure and the inquiring reporters heard the rush of the steam.

The Betsy carried the colors of Pittsburgh, and there was a delegation of Pittsburgh newspapermen aboard to report the race.

"You Pittsburghers will have to build a faster boat now if you want the river championship," they were told, but the Pittsburghers still seem to think the venerable Betsy Ann, much older than the modern Greene-line boats, never yet has been beaten fairly.

The Island Queen, with a crowd aboard, followed the racers up the river. Airplanes hovered above and many speedboats followed the racers.

Roustabouts named "Chalk Eye," "Six Bits," "Little Breeches," "Whisky," "Broad Ax," and "Big Un" were discoursing on the hot finish, of the race. And "Six Bits" sang happily:

"De Torn Greene am de debit's boat,
All she do is load and tote.
If Betsy know'd this
She'd staid in po't!"

But "Chalk Eye," remembering how the winning Chris Greene "threw water in the Betsy's face" last year, chanted thus:

"Jes' now we had another race;
No water was throwed in Betsy's face;
Betsy evened up the deal;
She throwed water on Tom Greene's wheel!"

The stacks shook as the stokers fed the roaring fires under the boilers, and pieces of unburned coal came flying out of the smoke to rain down on the decks, we are told by Charles J. Mulcahy in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and he goes on to give us some quaint details of the race, thus:

The rocky bank at New Richmond was packed with people waiting to cheer the winner. So close was the finish, they could not tell which boat to cheer, so they argued about it instead.

The brick levee that slants down from Front Street, Cincinnati, was fairly swarming with taxicabs, and a crowd of several thousand persons had gathered at the top of the rise to watch the start of the race.

The steam calliope on the Island Queen was industriously snorting and bellowing something that sounded like " Ten Miles From Home." After that it played "I'll Get By."

Some one on the Tom Greene thoughtfully interrupted this song by ringing the ship's bell. Eighty-three times be rang the bell. The bell is fifty years old. Considering its age, it makes a lot of noise. Before it was bolted to the deck of the Tom Greene, it was on the steamer Montana.

At five the Betsy Ann cast off her lines and backed out into the stream. She came ahead slowly and stopped opposite the mouth of the Licking River that separates Covington from Newport, Kentucky.

At 5:10 the Tom Greene cut loose with her chime whistle—two blasts. The Tom Greene has the most famous whistle on the Ohio River. It whistles a B-flat chord. You can pick out the tone on a piano—F, B-flat, D and A-flat, or something like that.

"Something like that" is good—so good that THE DIGEST prudently disclaims responsibility for Mr. Mulcahy's chord, although it may be a perfectly good rendering of the Tom Greene's harmonic hoot.

Reading on:

It used to be on the old steamer St. Laurence and on some other boat before that Capt. Gordon Christopher Greene liked it so well he offered to buy it for $500. The owners laughed at him. He thereupon bought the packet Courier, keel, hull, masts and all, just to get the whistle.

Capt. Tom Greene leaned over the rail a few seconds after this famous whistle blew.
"Let go the stern line," he said.

The Tom Greene slid away from the levee. She backed a little, then came ahead again, jockeying to clear the Island Queen. It required some expert maneuvering.

The Tom Greene's whistle then sounded three short blasts and the Betsy Ann moved up, heading for the Central Bridge, that links Cincinnati and Covington.

The Tom Greene pulled abreast the Betsy Ann and a young man in a gray suit fired a cannon, which up to this time had stood unnoticed on the top deck of the Tom Greene. It wasn't much of a cannon; it fired ten-gage shotgun shells.

The Tom Greene's whistle sounded again—one long pull and a short one. The man fired the cannon again. He appeared to be shooting at the pilot of the Betsy Ann. He also appeared to be missing him.

This failed to discourage him, however. Throughout the race he continued to fire at such objects as presented themselves—three airplanes, carrying cameramen—a fleet of speedboats—a man with a blue and orange tie. No hits.

As the boats, still neck and neck, steamed past the Ohio River Yacht Club, a tall, elderly gentleman threw his bat far out from the rail of the Tom Greene. It was a black derby. Black derbies, it developed, do not float well.

On up the river the packets went, between banks lined with spectators. Many of the watchers cheered as the boats went by. Others whistled. A few fired revolvers into the air. A few others shouted questionable advice to the rival captains, who ignored it.

The man with the cannon, it seemed to this observer, shot at practically all the spectators who offered questionable advice.

We learn with relief that he hit "practically none of them."


A roustabout on the Betsy Ann screamed and pretended to be hit by a stray shot, but nobody had enough confidence in the cannoneer to believe it. The roustabout, piqued because the passengers doubted him, threw a whisky bottle at the Tom Greene. The bottle was empty.

A small battalion, of newsreel-cameramen added greatly to the excitement of the race by climbing all over the two boats, taking pictures of everything and everybody.

Some of them had microphones and batteries and miles and miles of tangled cables for recording the sound of the paddlewheels, the hissing of the steam, the swishing of the wash along the sides.

They also recorded the music of the accordion some one thoughtfully brought along and the music of a banjo.

The man with the banjo may have been the character from the song, "Oh, Susannah," popular when the California gold rush was on.

The song went:

"I jumped aboard the Telegraph,
My banjo under my wing."

The Telegraph was the finest packet on the Ohio in those days. She had a gold anchor hanging on her bell-rope for a handle. It hangs from a beam in Capt. Tom Greene's cabin now.

In the, main cabin of the Tom Greene, where 250 passengers were eating dinner while the race progressed, was Capt. Mary B. Greene, acting as hostess.

She didn't pilot her son's boat after all, unless you count the time she took the wheel long enough to be photographed.

Arch and Drew Edgington piloted the winner. They're brothers. Their father, George Edgington, had seven sons and all of them became steamboat masters. Old Man Edgington built a packet and called her the Seven Wonders, in honor of his numerous sons.

When, under the able guidance of Drew Edgington, the Tom Greene slid in alongside the vanquished Betsy Ann at the end. of the race, a great delegation of townsfolk came aboard. Among them was Lou E. White, New Richmond undertaker, who had with him the loving cup put up as a trophy by the business men of the town.
Under the gifted, but highly confusing, direction of some seventy-five photographers, he presented the cup to Capt. Tom Greene. White was acting for C. H. Bogart, New Richmond Mayor, who couldn't be found.

All the prominent guests and officials and whatnot left the packets at New Richmond and returned to Cincinnati by auto or speedboat to attend a banquet in. the winner's honor on the Hotel Gibson roof.

Capt. Fred Way of the Betsy Ann told the judges after the race that he thought the Betsy was the real winner, though he would, of course, accept the decision of the judges, we learn from the Cincinnati Times-Star.


"Captain Way told us after the race that a photographer who took a picture as the boats passed the dam below New Richmond said the Betsy Ann was three feet in the lead," W. C. Culkins, one of the judges, stated. "Captain Way said, however, that he would abide by the decision of the judges, and, though he felt badly over the close decision, he was a good sport, and walked over and had his picture taken with the officers of the Tom Greene. The race was so close that we judges had to find out who was really in the lead by drawing a line across the two stages that projected over the bows of the boats."

Capt. Frederick Way showed the reporters the old-fashioned bar, with its foot rail still in good condition, on board the Betsy Ann. But it was bone-dry.

The bar, at which Southern gentlemen used to sip mint juleps when the Betsy ran, in the lower Mississippi trade, is forward on the main deck, but is arid and is used as an office now.

Last year the Betsy Ann lost to the Chris Greene the golden antlers she won in races in Southern waters. Now the Betsy sports another fine set of golden antlers, which shine brilliantly in the sun. They were a gift from friends.

"We'll win those rocking-chairs from you, too!" shouted a perspiring Negro coal-heaver of the Tom Greene, as he came out of the firing pit and pointed to the large antlers. But the antlers were not involved in this race, and the Betsy steamed on with them after the race.

The Tom Greene's narrow margin of victory over the Pittsburgh veteran makes for the enrichment of river traditions and furnishes material for more boat races no less than for argument, in the editorial judgment of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which continues:

There must be a graceful bowing to the decision of the judges on the part of the regional supporters of the loser and insistence that the wheel-spoke handle that separated the packets at the finish line is reason for a new challenge and another race.

An end so close and a race so stoutly contested have seldom if ever been seen on the rivers. When the Chris Greene won over the Betsy last summer, there were six boat-lengths of open water between the steaming packets. In the classic days races were longer and the separations greater; the Robert E. Lee was four hours ahead of the Natchez in the famous meeting of 1870 on the 1,250-mile run from New Orleans to St. Louis, the race to which rivermen look when fast time on the inland waters is in question. Eyelash finishes are usually for the race tracks and not for the streams.

In the result there is honor for both boats and for the cities which they represent. The rivalry between the Betsy and the Greene line is healthy and makes for a growing appreciation of the rivers as mediums of sport as well as commerce. The report that a hundred thousand spectators lined the banks and urged on both boats indicates vastly more than merely local interest. They had great sights to witness—the belching smokestacks, the sweating crews, the energy-inspired captains, the daring pilots and, best of all, the boats themselves racing side by side with no choice between them for the whole twenty miles of the course. It is of such epic spectacles that folk lore is made. Much will be heard of the 1929 race of the Betsy and the Tom Greene. Pittsburgh will desire another meeting, regretting most of all that the home waters do not furnish a straightaway course of sufficient length to make a race possible right here.

In a reminiscent and pensive mood over the faded glories of the rivers, the Louisville Courier begins an editorial with an old quotation:

Gangway, catfish! Cross dat bar.
We's a-comin' on de Guidin' Star.

As the black smoke rolled from the twin stacks of the Betsy Ann and the Tom Greene, racing upstream from Cincinnati to New Richmond, the mist of sixty years or more rolled back and revealed to crowds of pleasure-loving moderns in airplanes, motor speedboats, an excursion steamer, and on the banks a revival of one of the most thrilling sports of their grandsires along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

Oh, I wouldn' be a fireman,
He wuks down in de coal;
Ah'd ruther be de gamblin' man
An' wear a ring o' gol'.

The "gamblin' man" was absent as the Betsy and the Greene puffed and strained and shivered from stem to stern, but one might well picture his ghost, attired in a tall beaver hat, high collar and black stock, ruffled shirt bosom, lavender frock-coat and checkered trousers, strapped under his boots, leaning over the rail and waving a roll of bills at the rival boat, offering wagers.

This was no gambling event nor yet a commercial scheme, the winner to get the business, but purely a contest of speed between friendly rivals.

steamboat Argosy Magazine cover

Beautiful illustration by Marshall Frantz on the front cover of the Aug 26, 1939 Argosy magazine. Nice ferry boat in background for the "River Rogues (A Novel of the Mississippi)."


Artist O.E. Berninghaus painted a mural of the St. Louis levee (above) upon which he based his panoramic promotional art for the Anheuser-Busch company (below)


This was scanned from a calendar art print which is approximately 40% the size of the large color lithographs (16 1/2 x 41 1/2 inches) that were framed and displayed in bars and saloons to promote the product of the St. Louis brewing company.


1914 Anheuser-Busch also produced a serving tray which Berninghaus himself apparently refined and smoothed down from it's appearance in the panoramic lithograph, brightening the colors and extending the sky to fill the tray's rectangular format.
On Apr 16, 2016, at 1:22 PM, John R. wrote:

This passage is incorrect:

1914 Anheuser-Busch also produced a serving tray which Berninghaus himself apparently refined and smoothed down from it's appearance in the panoramic lithograph, brightening the colors and extending the sky to fill the tray's rectangular format.

I thought I would pass on my knowledge of this tray, as I am a collector.

The artwork is copyrighted 1914, but the tray was produced post prohibition in the 1930's.


Also the original artwork did not carry as many AB logos, they were added later. I know because I have a copy of the original 1914 AB booklet "Epoch Marking Events of American History".

In 1914, a year after his wife died of diabetes, the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company release a promotional booklet titled Epoch Marking Events of American History that was composed of billboard illustrations that Berninghaus had previously completed for the company. The book included 10 paintings by the artist featuring historical events important to the American West, including Hernando de Soto's founding the Mississippi River, Jacques Marquette's descending the same river, Pierre Laclède's founding of St. Louis, a scene from the Lewis and Clark Expedition, John C. Frémont, a pioneer wagon train on the Salt Lake Trail, and a Union Pacific train.[3] Berninghaus painted a number of paintings for the Busch family throughout his lifetime, many of which were donated to the St. Louis Art Museum.


Just an FYI, I enjoyed perusing your site.
All the best!
Editor's Note: Thank you John for this information!


J.M. WHITE - SPEED & ELEGANCE ON THE MISSISSIPPI by Oscar E. Berninghaus (who painted the St. Louis levee for Budweiser).
Print made from the painting in the Collection of the Boatmen's National Bank in St. Louis. Picture area seen here measures 9 x 14.40 inches.


This is a composite I made using a portrait of Mark Twain from an old Campbell's soup ad with the Budweiser promotional painting. The styles of the two artists are pretty compatible together.


With the exception of images credited to certain institutions,
most of the images on this page are from a private collection.
Please request permission before reproducing our images in any publication.*