Steamboat Illustrations, Page 22


Attached detail from a print of the following painting.

The link below will take you to a poster available from the MHS is below

View on the Mississippi River 1857 by Ferdinand Reichardt

Minnesota Historical Society Collections


A placid stretch of the Upper Mississippi near Lake Pepin is the setting for this romantic painting of the "fashionable tour" on the Mississippi by Ferdinand Reichardt (1819-1895) a Danish-born landscape artist especially noted for his paintings of Niagara Falls. The romance of the Mississippi River captured his imagination, presumably when he traveled through Minnesota in the 1850s. In his New York City studio Reichardt painted several canvases of life along the river such as St. Anthony Falls (also painted in 1857 and in the MHS Collections) and View on the Mississippi River. Another, similar rendition of the fashionable tour, executed in 1858, is in the collections of the White House. All are probably based on sketches and material gathered from his visit to the Mississippi Valley, and all are rich in fine detail.


Recently received this from a book seller in Italy.

The artist who created the front cover is not credited but I admired the ingenuity of their concept to give this the flavor of having been made by a clever young boy.

Apparently the background was a sheet of wood veneer on which was drawn in pastel the words TOM SAWYER, the circle defining the pirate's head, the white of the eye and perhaps the eye patch.

The real components include red fabric for the pirate's head scarf, brass rings, pipe, half of a cork for a nose, a button for the eye, mustache may have been trimmed from some sort of brush and the eyebrow look like the end of a child's pink shoelace.

The shadow of the pipe, head gear and rings etc. reminds me of a Trompe l'oeil painting.

The assemblage was photographed then MARK TWAIN, MONDADORI and 650 lira added by the publisher for printing.

The theme was inspired by Tom Sawyer's scheme to runaway from home as "pirates" on a raft to Jackson's Island with Huck Finn and Joe Harper.


About midnight Tom arrived with a boiled ham and a few trifles, and stopped in a dense undergrowth on a small bluff overlooking the meeting-place. It was starlight, and very still. The mighty river lay like an ocean at rest. Tom listened a moment, but no sound disturbed the quiet. Then he gave a low, distinct whistle. It was answered from under the bluff. Tom whistled twice more; these signals were answered in the same way. Then a guarded voice said:

"Who goes there?"

"Tom Sawyer, the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main. Name your names."

"Huck Finn the Red-Handed, and Joe Harper the Terror of the Seas." Tom had furnished these titles, from his favorite literature.

"'Tis well. Give the countersign."

Two hoarse whispers delivered the same awful word simultaneously to the brooding night:



Link and screen capture from a Western adventure computer game which includes a steamboat called SILVER STEAM. This "bird's eye" view of the boat at a landing at night looks pretty accurate except that instead of swinging stages suspended above the bow there are inexplicably heavy wooden posts stuck into "hawsepipes" in the hull below the deck. In another view of this graphic in the preview video there is a cutaway showing the central cabin and a portside stateroom. Look forward to seeing the next museum update sometime before January 1st 2015.

The game can be purchased and downloaded from this link:


Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive
Action, Strategy Gamer
Released: Nov 20, 2013
Developer: Spellbound
Publisher: Nordic Games

"Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive" is the first strategy game ever to combine a movie-based and story-driven atmosphere of an adventure game with the intellectual challenge of a real time tactic game. Western setting El Paso, Texas and vicinity.



Original poster matted and framed here in the collection measures approx. 10 X 13 inches.

Ramona 1902-1932
Sternwheel Packet/Pleasure boat
Built 1902 at Cincinnati, Ohio
Dismantled below Cincinnati in 1932
Owned by Albert Bettinger

Text on the "FOR HIRE" poster for the RAMONA gives information about chartering her for cruises.

The portside view of the RAMONA from the Murphy Library shows off her profile very well.


Years ago I ordered a large print of this painting by Jay H. Matternes from National Geographic and have it framed downstairs.

It's endlessly fascinating to look at and frightening to anyone contemplating swimming in the Mississippi where the water is only this clear on the upper river.

Attached scan of the print to which I added National Geographic copyright.

Note the distant steamboat just above the waterline in the upper right half of the painting.

The painting was commissioned for this book:

The Mighty Mississippi. Hardcover
by Bern Keating (Author)
James L. Stanfield (Photographer)

Hardcover: 199 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Society, 1971

Painting by JAY H. MATTERNES Pages 150 - 51

Caption under the painting:

"Armored with hard, diamond-shaped scales, an eight-foot alligator gar glides near the surface of the Mississippi; another chases a young blue catfish.

Largest fish in the river, gars sometimes grow ten feet long.

Scaleless blue catfish, full size at left, may reach a hundred pounds or more.

The broad, flat snout of the paddlefish possibly helps stabilize its body as it sieves with gaping jaw for crustaceans and plankton.

Prowling for food, shovelnose sturgeons rake mud near the bank with sensitive fleshy barbels that help the weak-eyed fish detect snails, crawfish, and insect larvae; they vacuum the morsels through tubelike mouths.

Heavily ridged shells cover alligator snapping turtles.

One lures six-inch green sunfish with wormlike "bait," an extension of the tongue.

Breaking the surface of the river another turtle startles a mallard into flight."


This catfish "taxidermy" is in the "replica" category with accomplished air brushed detailing. The name of the artist who accomplished this was on a special plaque that I had made that used to be in the case with the catfish but that plaque is missing, hope it turns up so I can give the creator of the work proper credit.

Obtained this during the 90's in a store specializing in vintage hunting and fishing items in St. Charles, Missouri on the Missouri River. From the same dealer I also got a huge taxidermy piece of a "gar" that's in an outsized case inside a crate in the garage and hasn't been brought out to be photographed or exhibited yet.


Sheet music over for L&C Waltzes dedicated to the CITY OF LOUISVILLE, Way Number 1095 sidewheeler 301 feet long built at Howard Shipyards in 1894. Owned by Louisville & Cincinnati Packet Co., operated on the Ohio River between Louisville and Cincinnati. 72 staterooms, slept 160, could carry 1500 passengers on excursions. Set speed records between Louisville and Cincinnati upstream (9 hours 42 minutes) and downstream (5 hours 58 minutes) Lost in the ice at Cincinnati, Ohio on January 30, 1918.


Beautiful color lithograph promoting the GRAND REPUBLIC.

Way Number 2438

A side wheel packet with a wood hull, originally built as the GREAT REPUBLIC (Way #2438) in 1867 and then remodeled and renamed GRAND REPUBLIC in 1876. Owned by Captain William H.Thorwegan, she operated on the Mississippi River until she burned at St. Louis on September 9, 1877.


Marie Adrien Persac Steamboat Cabin Interior Louisiana State University

Gouache and collage on woven French-made paper Signed and dated lower left corner in white watercolor script, "A. Persac 1861" Dimensions: 17 in x 15/16 in

Frame: Period rosewood grained bolection molding matching known Persac moldings used ca. 1857-1861

Provenance: The artist, his son Octave Persac, his granddaughter Mamie Persac Lusk, LSH Museum of Art Loan: Louisiana State University Museum of Art Gift: Mrs. Mamie Persac Lusk, Acc. No. 75.8

"The saloon of the Imperial represents the height of luxury of steamboating at the middle of the nineteenth century."


Old engraving, possibly intended for a packet company letterhead, an advertisement or illustration.


The Wisconsin Historical Society has the following book (file on the cover attached) available to read in a facsimile at wisconsinhistory.org

George C. Nichols
Recollections of a Pioneer Steamboat Pilot: contributing to the early history of the Mississippi (La Crosse, Wis. : Tucker & Co., 1883)

A Mississippi Riverboat pilot looks back on his career, 1845-1883

Recollections of a Pioneer Steamboat Pilot

This short book contains the recollections of Mississippi steamboat pilot George C. Nichols, as recorded in the third person by an anonymous editor. Nichols was born in Ohio in 1824 and his family moved steadily westward until settling on the Black River in Wisconsin in 1840. Young George went to St. Louis that year to learn to be a riverboat pilot but soon returned north to work on the family farm for four years. In 1845, he returned to the river, beginning a decades-long career as a steamboat pilot for the Minnesota Packet Company; over the next 40 years he worked for many other firms on the upper Mississippi and its tributaries. Nichols' memoir discusses not only a pilot's duties and wages but also the early years of Fort Snelling, the fur trade, the Ho-Chunk, Sioux and Ojibwe Indians, lumber rafts, birth of Wisconsin river towns, and collisions and crashes between vessels. A long section describes the removal of the Ho-Chunk to Minnesota, in which he was personally involved.


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.*