Steamboat Illustrations, Page 17


One of Bob Pettes' "Nostalgic Impressions" of a fictional steamboat he named WESTPORT painted in 1982. Westport, Missouri was a town on the Missouri River that was annexed by Kansas City, Missouri in 1897. Pettes moved to Kansas City later in life and may have lived in the Westport district or liked the historicsignificance of the name. Fred Way does not list a steamboat named WESTPORT but there may very wellhave been one early on when Missouri River steamboats were plentiful.

This 9.05 X 10.75 inch print was from a 1991 calendar. Bob brought lots of charm and precision in his style. The overall wood grain texture in the background enhances the nostalgic flavor of the piece.

Abridged obituary on Bob Pettes from the Kansas City Star below.


R.I.P. Bob Pettes, 1922-2015
Mar 9, 2015
Bob Pettes, 1922-2015.

Husband, father, friend, noted illustrator, remarkable artist from the Golden Age of American illustration who captured American life and the American spirit, and a creative and gentle soul. Bob, you will be missed. From the obituary published in the Kansas City Star, March 1, 2015:

Our loving husband, father, friend and neighbor, Robert Pettes died Feb. 27, 2015. We will miss his smiles and humor and his kind and uplifting words.

Born in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 16, 1922, it was soon evident that his talent was art. Starting out in a print shop he could get to on his bicycle, he delivered stats to customers in the area. He had his own studio in downtown Minneapolis, then went in with a couple of other artists.

They did illustrations for General Mills and 3M, as the word got out about their talents. The war came and he enlisted in the Coast Guard and served as ship's cook on the USS Serpens after he was sent to cook and bakers school in New York. He also assumed the role of chaplain with the permission of his captain.

After the war he worked for Brown & Bigelow in Minneapolis, traveled to Europe, and used some of his observations to build a French house for sale and later an English house.

He later moved to Kansas City went to work for Hallmark cards where he met his wife, Gwen. They were married in 1976. He began painting in his home studio in Prairie Village in a style he called Nostalgic Impressions, using his memories from childhood visits to southern Minnesota. In later years his style included scenes and landscapes from trips to Europe with Gwen.


The GORDON C. GREENE in a woodcut entitled "Dumaine Street Dock"

The steamboat GORDON C. GREENE is the star attraction in this undated woodcut approximately 7 1/2 x 11 inches printed on yellowing wood pulp paper. Margins on the top and left and right sides were trimmed to fit inside a stock frame.

Entitled "Dumaine Street Dock" (New Orleans) by Jim Fisher who could have possibly been the James A. Fisher listed as having exhibited at the New Orleans Art League and the Orleans Gallery Collection. If any of our visitors can provide information on the Jim Fisher who created this artwork please let us know.

The St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square is represented in the upper right. In the lower right foreground a fisherman stands on the dock in front of a row of warehouses as he pulls a catfish that he's caught out of the Mississippi. A second fellow stands idly by.


Attached comp of cover designed by Sam Bryant for RUN ME A RIVER which I have rearranged to fit in in a horizontal format

Run Me a River, Five days in the life of the RAMBLER and its passengers
by Janice Holt Giles
Houghton Mifflin Co. 1964


The rich history of river life in Kentucky permeates Janice Holt Giles's novel "Run Me a River." Set in 1861, at the beginning of Kentucky's reluctant entry into the Civil War, the novel tells the story of a five-day adventure on the Green River. Aboard the "RAMBLER," a ramshackle steamboat, Captain Bohannon Cartwright and his crew journey 184 miles and pick up two extra passengers along the way. The boatmen rescue "Sir Henry" Cole, a former Shakespearean actor, and his granddaughter Phoebe from their skiff when it overruns in a squall. As romance blossoms between Phoebe and Captain Bo, a conflict escalates between Confederate and Union forces fighting for control of the river.

Janice Holt Giles (1905-1979), author of nineteen books, lived and wrote near Knifley, Kentucky, for thirty-four years.

Ms. Holt's acknowledgements excerpted from the last six paragraphs of the Foreword:

"I was helped by many people while doing research for this book. I cannot begin to list them all, but I am particularly grateful to the following:

Captain J. Frank Thomas, last master of the EVANSVILLE which burned at the wharf at Bowling Green on July 25, 1931, and for all practical purposes ended the river trade;

Mrs. Beulah Thomas, his wife, who gave me a woman's point of view of life on the river. I had three long interviews with Captain and Mrs. Thomas, whose patience extended beyond courtesy.

Captain Jim Wallace, retired towboat pilot and Mrs. Thomas' father, also granted me an interview. It was he, now past ninety, who "wrote the river" for me and whose river tongue gave me much of the language.

Through our good friend, Joe Covington, of Bowling Green, I met Warren Hines, a vice-president of the Hines Marine Towing Company, who interrupted a busy schedule to see me several times,

loaned me the company Scrapbooks (which were invaluable since the family has been in the river trade for four generations) and who finally did me the inestimable service of arranging a towboat trip downriver.

To no one else, however, am I more grateful than to Jim Nasbitt, owner of the towboat Maple, on which I made the downriver trip, and his son Buddy Nasbitt, pilot of the MAPLE.

They were gracious, hospitable and helpful. Without their help I could not possibly have learned as much as I did about the river and they gave it so cheerfully and willingly.

Miss Elizabeth Coombs, librarian of the Kentucky Building Library, Bowling Green, is an old friend and valued assistant in research. She is invariably interested, and wholly tireless in her efforts.

She found the old river map which is reproduced on the end papers in this book, as well as many old newspaper clippings, journals, histories and other useful documents.

Spout Springs, Kentucky
August 6, 1963"


The Great Welcome Week Steamboat Race, 1949.


Attached scan of the pen and ink drawing of a steamboat from the center of the front cover of the 1949 German translation of Mark Twain's LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI ("LEBEN AUF DEM MISSISSIPPI") by illustrator Heiner Rothfuchs who created the 1860 pictorial map of the Mississippi River for the front fly leaves that I sent previously.


Pictorial map for the front fly leaves of a German translation of Mark Twain's LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI ("LEBEN AUF DEM MISSISSIPPI") represents the Mississippi River in 1860 by illustrator Heiner Rothfuchs (1913-2000) for a 1949 German edition published by Kesselringsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Wiesbaden.

The stylized pen and ink style Rothfuchs employed is very nostalgic evoking the U.S. during its frontier period with costumed characters, a steamboat along with cities and towns. The way the map was attached within the front cover caused a slight gap that is visible down the center but the graphic still reads satisfactorily.

Indiana University Lilly Library Bloomington Rafting Downstream 1850 65percent for NORI

One of my all time favorite river/steamboat paintings. Since it was painted back in "antebellum times" it was by an eyewitness, not a scene imagined by a modern painter who never saw that raft and that steamboat.

The river has that thick coffee with cream look which is characteristic in certain seasons or when the sky is not reflecting blue on the surface on the Mississippi and Missouri.

The gentleman in the lower right hand corner seems to be literally "raising cane" and perhaps yelling at the raftsmen down below who don't appear to be paying any attention to him.

Lewis Verduyn who is a rafter on the Clutha River in New Zealand says that the raft is authentic.

I can't tell if those are crates or milled shingles for roofing stacked in the center of the raft.

This is a very special and rare work of art, wish we knew the painter's identity.

The style suggests they were from Europe or were schooled over there, there's a classical style to it.

RAFTING DOWNSTREAM painted by an unknown artist
circa 1850
Oil on canvas 22 1/8 x 27 3/8 inches
Lilly Library
Indiana University, Bloomington

steamboat illustration

Michael Blaser's painting of Missouri River town Boonville, MO as it looked in 1875. The Joseph Kinney was named for local steamboat man Captain Joseph Kinney who operated steamboats in out of Boonville on the Missouri River for over a quarter of a century and built a mansion called Rivercene across the river from Boonville.

This captures the feeling of so many Missouri river towns with the hills and foliage; the homes, church, commercial buildings and the warehouses along the waterfront. I'd love to see Michael Blaser paint Hannibal, MO during the 1840's or '50's before Sam Clemens lit out to fulfill his destiny.


MARK TWAIN Mural Governor's Office Detail over Blue HALF size

Detail of the Mark Twain mural in the Missouri Governor's office.


A fairly common Uncle Ben's Rice container circa 1983 commemorating the 40th anniversary of the company.

The steamboat is obviously based on the JULIA BELLE SWAIN but the name at the stern was painted to be incomprehensible.

Internationall Marine engineering 1912 nov page 436 dredge WATERWAY

For the do-it-your-self'er attached one of the sure 'nuff Gee-Whiz cross-section drawings from which the Red River Hydraulic dredge WATERWAY was built.

This illustration appears on page 436 of the journal International Marine Engineering for November, 1912. On page 477 there is also a profile drawing and a deck plan.

The text of the article which begins on page 435 "The United States Red River Hydraulic Dredge Waterway," begins thusly:

"Early in the summer of this year the Dubuque Boat & Boiler Works, Dubuque, Iowa delivered to the United States Engineers at Vicksburg, Mississippi, the steel self-propelled hydraulic dredge WATERWAY.

The dredge is a steel hull boat fitted with the ordinary type of sternwheel towboat machinery, and a sand hydraulic pumping plant for river dredging."

For those interested in reading the article in its entirety it is available on line from Google books.


Expanded history of the boat in the painting which was actually referred to as the EXPRESS No. 2 although "No. 2" does not appear after her name in photographs of the boat in the Murphy Collection.

I formatted this scan of a print of Thomas Anshutz's painting of the EXPRESS, 1880 inside an oval vignette.

Am not positive at the moment which collection owns the original artwork, it could be in the Ohio River Museum at Marietta, Ohio.

Anshutz was born in Newport, Kentucky in 1851. He grew up in Newport and Wheeling, West Virginia and was co-founder of The Darby School of Painting and leader of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Two relatives of the artist worked on the boat during the 1870's, Captain Phil Anshutz and Clerk, E.J. Anshutz (see below).

Thomas apparently painted this boat "in memoriam" for the EXPRESS No. 2 in 1880 since she had been retired and dismantled the year before (1879).

Express No. 2
Built 1870 at Wheeling, West Virginia
Officers & Crew members:
Captain Phil Anshutz (master, 1870-75)
E.J. Anshutz (clerk, 1870-76)
Captain A.B. Booth (master, 1876)
H.C. Caldwell (clerk, 1877)
Martin F. Noll (clerk, 1878)
Brady Morgan (pilot)

Worked on the Ohio River and Muskingum River

Fred Way Packet Directory
Number 1947
"In the Wheeling-Parkersburg trade; teamed up with the sidewheel Courier.
After she was dismantled, her hull served as the wharfboat at Wheeling until the Crockard and Booth wharfboat was built at Moundsville in 1892.
Her machinery and whistle went to the St. Lawrence."


Print of painting "Music for Dreaming" by Tommy Thompson, New Orleans 1985. tomsart4u.com


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.*