Steamboat Illustrations, Page 16

Belle Memphis & City of Bayou Sara Michael Blase HALF size

One of my favorite paintings by Michael Blaser is MOON RIVER which is rich in romance and nostalgia . . .

Information below is from Blaser's website:

"The steamboats BELLE MEMPHIS and BAYOU SARA pose for the artist on a moonlit night along the Lower Mississippi.

The Anchor Line packet steamers of St. Louis and New Orleans built steamboats that epitomized a great antebellum steamboat. Their boats were all named after cities along the river.

The formal "CITY OF" always appeared ahead of the name, but crews often substituted, such as in the case of CITY OF MEMPHIS.

It became known to all on the river as BELLE MEMPHIS.

In addition to these lovely lines and excellent accommodations, the Anchor Line boat was recognizable from miles away because of their large, ornamental tin anchors that were placed between the stacks.

The period between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the century is remembered for an unpredictable cotton market, and the Anchor Line suffered more than her share of sinkings on the Lower Mississippi.

The BELLE MEMPHIS was snagged and damaged beyond repair. The BAYOU SARA was lost to fire on the levee at New Madrid, Missouri."

Prints on paper and giclees on canvas can be ordered directly from Michal via this link: michaelblaser.com




Attached 2 examples from a set of blueprints for the CAPE GIRARDEAU (23-35) plus a photograph of her from La Crosse.

1923 - 35
Sternwheel Packet
Way's Packet Directory Number 0829
Designed by Tom Dunbar for the Eagle Packet Company.
Built in 1923 at Howard Ship Yard, Jeffersonville, Indiana. Went from Louisville to St. Louis in November, 1923.
Came out in the St. Louis-Cape Girardeau commerce trade in April 1924; christened at Cape Girardeau on August 24 by Miss Christine Rowling. Made St. Louis to New Orleans Mardi Gras trips between 1925 and 1930.
Sold to Greene Line Steamers in 1935 and became the GORDON C. GREENE.

Sheet Music DIXIE NIGHT Chas Repper

"Dixie Night" sheet music cover- 1921
Charles Repper, composer and librettist

Nice graphic design with inventive lettering below a moonlit riverscape with silhouette of steamboat with some lights on and a cotton "boll" below the composer's name.

Readers Digest Cutaway STEAMBOAT Reduced for NORI



Years ago I had a Corel program that was capable of curving a line of lettering so I made this attached mock-up of a cover for Mark Twain's LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI using the illustration from an old Southern Comfort magazine ad for the background.

The old display font was perfect and the colors nicely compatible with the moonlit river scene.



Original Mel Crair portrait, front cover of the Newsweek May 2, 1960, for which it was painted. See more Currier & Ives steamboat illustrations - click here. Prints published after the Civil War as reference for the steamboats and Mississippi River for his Mark Twain portrait.

Mel Crair Twain Currier & Ives Inflence and Newsweek Cover


An illustration of Jim Bludso of the Prairie Belle by celebrated American artist N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945) for one of John Hay's PIKE COUNTY BALLADS. Published by Houghton Mifflin Co., 1912.

These lines from the poem give you a capsule description of Engineer Jim Bludso's creed:

"And this was all the religion he had,

To treat his engine well; Never be passed on the river;

To mind the pilot's bell; And if ever the Prairie Belle took fire,

A thousand times he swore. He'd hold her nozzle agin the bank

Till the last soul got ashore.

All boats has their day on the Mississip,

And her day come at last, The Movastar was a better boat.

But the Belle she wouldn't be passed."

John Hay (1838 - 1905) was raised on the Mississippi in Warsaw, Illinois which is 57 miles due north of Sam Clemens' Hannibal, MO. Hay was one of Abe Lincoln's two private secretaries in D.C. during the Civil War. From 1898 - 1905 Hay was Secretary of State. Hay praised Mark Twain for capturing the atmosphere of Hannibal as a typical rivertown in the 1840's and '50's in LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI. Freedomland USA Amusement Park Excursion Boat 1960 Postcard

Nice artist's rendering of the 110 foot long steamboat AMERICAN on the "Great Lakes" at "Freedomland, U.S.A." - the short lived (1960-64) Bronx, New York theme park that attempted to approximate Disneyland on the East Coast. The AMERICAN also had an identical sister boat at Freedomland called the CANADIAN which for a while floated on a mill pond as part of Raymond Schmitt's "Johnsonville," a collection of historic 19th century buildings at East Haddam, Connecticut. The current whereabouts of the AMERICAN and the CANADIAN are unknown.

Two nice photos of the steamboat AMERICAN at Freedomland U.S.A. can be seen at this theme park blog: gorillasdontblog.blogspot.com

Hello Nori

I was on the website and looking at the Dave Thomson Collection. I am searching the web for photos of the Freedomland U.S.A. theme park sternwheeler "The Canadian" in its post-Freedomland life. The park closed after the 1964 season. I write about the park and oversee our Facebook page (see link below). My search led me to the website.

I saw the information you have posted under an artist's rendition of one of the sternwheelers. I can provide updated information for you.

"The American" still floats. After the park closed, it ended up as "The Showboat" docked along the Byrum River in Greenwich, Connecticut. Today, that same boat is on the other side of the river on the Port Chester side (Westchester County NY) and it is privately owned and used for private parties. The boats never could fully run on their own power. They were simply barges.

"The Canadian" was taken in 1966 to Johnsonville Village in East Haddam, Connecticut. It was placed on a former millpond that was part of this fictitious old village built on an old mill property and started by millionaire Raymond Schmitt. After Schmitt purchased the boat, he had it floated up the Moodus River and then carried for a distance by truck to place it in the pond. I have found some news clips, a website and a Facebook page about the village. The boat didn't operate at the village. In either late 2004 or early 2005, this sternwheeler was chopped up and trucked away with destination unknown.

Hope this helps. BTW, that's "The American" in the photo. If you go into the photos section of the Facebook page and look for albums, find the one that says Sternwheelers and Tugboats. You will find pictures of "The American" as it appears today in that album. On some of the videos in our video section you will find film of the sternwheelers in operation.

Best wishes,
Mike Virgintino
Here's the link to the Freedomland FB page:
Freedomland U.S.A. - The World's Largest Entertainment Center - Facebook Page


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.*