Steamboat Illustrations, Page 18


Painting by Cal Sacks RR2 Westport, Conn. A book search revealed that Sacks had illustrated anthologies in the '60's for editor Walter B. Gibson, on 3 nefarious subjects: The Fine Art (of Swindling), also (of Spying) and (of Murder). Sacks also did illustrations for at least 3 other books on quite different subjects: The South Seas, Earthquakes and California Wines.


Winona, Minnesota June 27 - July 4, 1978
31st Annual STEAMBOAT DAYS - Badge No. 862

2 1/4 inch pin back button

Once again it appears that the artist based the steamboat on the little White River (Arkansas) steamboat MARY WOODS No. 2 that was on display at Jacksonport, Arkansas until she sank and nobody wanted to pay the cost of restoring her so she was scrapped in 2011. The artist who painted the MARK TWAIN FOREVER postage stamp also used the MARY WOODS No. 2 as a model for his steamboat.


Very early frontier-flavored painting with Contestoga wagons, stage coach and other horse drawn vehicles. Commercial buildings and homes, fascinating glimpse of what it was like in very early days on Southern rivers.

Steamboat MONTGOMERY on the Coosa River at Wetumpka, Alabama.
Painted by Adrian E. Thompson, 1847
In the collection of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

sidewheel packet boat
Way's Packet Directory Number 4028
Built at New Albany, Indiana in 1843. 407 tons.
Went to Mobile, Alabama. Returned to New Orleans February 1850.
Capt. J.H. Estes of Mobile was master, and she was owned at Mobile by John G. Owen and F.M. Johnson.

Ran New Orleans-Vicksburg.
Burned at New Carthage, Mississippi, 33 miles below Vicksburg, Mississippi on November 7, 1851. N.C. Wyeth steamboat illustration

Detail of some ad art painted by celebrated illustrator N.C. Wyeth for a December, 1920 issue of the Sat. Eve Post. Boat looks too petite to be the R.E. Lee though. Wyeth also painted a couple of steamboat illustrations for Jim Bludso (engineer of the Prairie Bell) in a special edition of John Hay's Pike County Ballads.

John Fulton steamboat illustration

An illustrator named John Fulton did a series of "Men of America" portraits for the cover of Bluebook and this is concept of Sam Clemens the pilot although the model he used had a completely different bone structure in his facial features and Sam was sporting lamb chop whiskers at this time, not a mustache. The pilot house looks rather futuristic. I don't know of any from this period where the windows were angled up like that. Pilot houses on modern towboats are often built like this now, probably gives increased visibility and sheds rain better. The Great Republic (later renamed Grand Republic) and a few other big boats had cupulas like this on top of their pilot houses but they were an "over-the-top indulgence" to say the least.


The boat illustration was by Ray Coombs for The Book of Fantastic Boats which was originally published in England by Archon Press in 1974. The Chaperon as he depicted it was almost half this wide and had a strange color scheme. It was just the boat floating on a white background. I widened the boat and conformed painting to the way it should look. The river, sky, paddlewheel wake, smoke etc. I scanned and combined from photographic sources.

sheet music steamboat illustration

I found this on a web search from an antiquarian book dealer in the Netherlands, pretty exciting. Stephen Foster's immortal celebration of a boat (I understand it was originally called the Glen D. Burke but I have a waybill where the name is shortened to Glendy Burke so it may have been rechristened with the nickname by "popular demand").

I should really get off my duff and make my own boat site with all the stuff I've got, sorry I've swamped you with a plethora of material you really don't have room for on your site, though I know you enjoy having it all in the archives in any event.

I included the lyrics below in case you don't have 'em handy. A "pink" I'm pretty sure refers to an "octoroon", a slave woman with only an eighth of negro blood in her and often a "passer" who could be "mistaken" for being fully white but could technically still be enslaved until Mr. Lincoln tried to iron things out. Not that abolition has ever been a complete success. The original lyrics were in negro dialect but most recordings normalize the pronounciation of all the words. - Dave

By Stephen C. Foster

De Glendy Burk is mighty fast boat,
Wid a mighty fast captain too;
He sits up dah on de hurricane roof
And he keeps his eye on de crew.
I can't stay here, for dey work too hard;
I'm bound to leave dis town;
I'll take my duds and tote 'em on my back
When de Glendy Burk comes down.

Ho! for Lou'siana!
I'm bound to leave dis town;
I'll take my duds and tote 'em on my back
When de Glendy Burk comes down.

De Glendy Burk has a funny old crew
And dey sing de boatman's song,
Dey burn de pitch and de pine knot too,
For to shove de boat along.
De smoke goes up and de ingine roars
And de wheel goes round and round,
So fair you well! for I'll take a little ride
When de Glendy Burk comes down.

Repeat Chorus

I'll work all night in de wind and storm,
I'll work all day in de rain,
'Till I find myself on de levydock
In New Orleans again.
Dey make me mow in de hay field here
And knock my head wid de flail,
I'll go wha dey work wid de sugar and de cane
And roll on de cotten bale.

Repeat Chorus

My lady love is as pretty as a pink,
I'll meet her on de way
I'll take her back to de sunny old south
And day I'll make her stay
So don't you fret my honey dear,
Oh! don't you fret, Miss Brown
I'll take you back 'fore de middle of de week
When de Glendy Burk comes down.


1851 Waybill from the GLENDY BURKE on page one of the sheet music.

steamboat illustration

Motor Boating, The Yachtsmen's Magazine, January 1934. I believe that the artist who did the cover art based the boat on the Amy Hewes, which ran on the Bayou Teche in Louisiana. There's a celebrated photo of her which I'll have to locate for you (also a colorful silk necktie used that photo) The photo in question was taken from a low angle so the artist who did the Motor Boating cover had to imagine her from a high angle vantage point in order to get this perspective.

steamboat illustration

This excellent 13 x 19 inch poster came from an eBay auction.

Editor's Note 3/22/2009: Items may come and go on eBay. These posters are available at this writing. I hear from Dave Thomson that the image is crisp and clear and the item arrived in excellent condition.

steamboat illustration

Father of waters, clear or muddy, straight or coiling, reckless of its banks, lover and master of the land THE MISSISSIPPI Houseboats and barges line the Arkansas shore below Memphis, while the Chris Greene paddles upstream

Got to thinking about the Chris Greene in that illustration. In 1947 she was "withdrawn from service" according to Fred Way, so I imagine the date on that painting was more likely mid 1940's. The eBay seller listed it as being from HOLIDAY magazine but the illustration style is much more typical of FORTUNE magazine. There's no name or date on the backside of the page to say where it came from.

This same magazine page was taped to a Dutch door in the "clip art" room at the Disney Studio and I always admired it and was pleased to finally come across it listed on eBay.

steamboat illustration

19 3/4 X 23 3/4 original oil on canvas by Wilhelm (see below for a biography of the artist). Several of Wilhelm's paintings were on Reflector covers in the past. Acquired from from Dave Dugas' Le Petit Solider antique shop on Royal Street in the early '90's.

"Assumption" Artist's Biography

JOSEPH WILHELM (1920-2003)
J. Russell Jinishian Gallery

After spending a lifetime perfecting his skills as a premier ship modeler, Wilhelm turned his attention to full time painting at the age of 51. Influenced by a childhood spent along the Mississippi River, he started painting harbor scenes that depicted the character and romance of the great merchant vessels of the 50's. He then added painting trains which he personally researched and visited the areas. Through his early work in modeling, Wilhelm developed a feeling for scale, proportion and detail that lended a distinctive sense of realism to his paintings.

A native of New Orleans, Wilhelm saw his first steamship when he was six years old. "My father took me to the docks to see a British cruiser and the U.S. battleship ARKANSAS," he recalled. "I remember well holding his hand crossing the street, the ships blocked from view by the freight sheds, with only their masts towering above. We waited for a steam engine with some freight cars to go by, and then walked out on the docks to a breathtaking sight. I had found my true love."

Wilhelm was a member of the Steamship Historical Society of America, and painted commissions for steamship companies, covers for magazines, and portraits for ship lovers.


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.*