Steamboat Illustrations, Page 23



Detail of the lower left hand corner of an 1870s Robert E. Sticker painting. A wonderful depiction of the towboat ALICE BROWN that is well worth sharing with the folks who tune in to our channel for nostalgic steamboat imagery. Also attached Bob's high angle point of view of the SPREAD EAGLE at Laclede's landing. Obituary for Bob Sticker from 2011 follows.

Published in Scranton Times on May 23, 2011

Robert E. Sticker, 88, of Pleasant Mount, died Saturday after a brief illness. His wife of 47 years is Nina Giuliano Sticker.

A native of New York and distinguished marine artist, Bob was a legend in the field of marine art. His interest in painting was lifelong. Growing up in Staten Island, N.Y., and watching the incredible activity in New York Harbor sparked an interest in the sea that intensified over the years. When World War II was declared, Bob enlisted to serve his country and chose the Navy for his love of the sea. He was assigned to officers candidate training and appointed captain of the crew of a PBY.

Over the years, he created a body of work that is singularly compelling and dramatic, and reflects the honor, respect and integrity with which he lived his life. He is widely recognized for the accuracy of his research and his unique ability to depict the drama of the human aspect of life at sea, with great compassion and poignancy, and has quietly amassed a national following for his unique and beautiful paintings.

Bob was a founding member of the American Society of Marine Artists and was also the recipient of awards from the Franklin Mint and Mystic Seaport. His paintings are included in Bound for Blue Waters, a book that is a definitive collection of the best American marine art of the 20th and early 21st century. His work is also included in the corporate collections of IBM, Union Carbide and AT&T and in numerous private collections

Also surviving are two beloved children: a son, Robert Edward Sticker Jr. and wife, Reiko; and a daughter, Marisa Sticker Volz and husband, Rick; and his equally beloved grandchildren, Reimi Gabrielle Sticker and Ale Richard Volz.

The funeral will be Wednesday from the Lawrence A. Gabriel Funeral Home, 74 N. Main St., Carbondale, with Mass at 9:30 a.m. in St. James Church, Pleasant Mount. Interment will be in St. James Cemetery, Pleasant Mount.

Friends may call Tuesday, 4 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Marian Community Hospital, 100 Lincoln Ave., Carbondale.


This Murphy photo of the CITY OF MOBILE taken at the Mobile wharf looks like a scene from a movie. I "posterized" it a bit and graduated the color from blue above to sepia below.

Sternwheel Packet
Way's Packet Directory Number 1105
Built at Mobile, Alabama, 1898
Owned by the Peoples Line
Captain G.W. Quaries
Alabama and Tombigbee rivers
Wrecked in a hurricane at Mobile, Alabama, July 1916, was dismantled

Photo Courtesy of Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Steamboat Collection Photographs.


River-Boat Revival on the Ohio
by James A. Maxwell
The Saturday Evening Post
March 14, 1959 pages. 24-25

Color print photo of the ORCO

The caption reads:

A number of steam-driven sternwheelers help preserve some of the 19th century flavor of the Ohio. Steamboaters contemptuously say of newfangled towboats, "They don't have a decent whistle, only a bleating horn."

A clearer view of the starboard profile of the ORCO's in black and white is courtesy of Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Steamboat Collection Photographs.

Orco (Towboat, 1955-1962)
Sternwheel Towboat

Built in 1936 as the Charles T. Campbell at Neville Island, Pennsylvania by Dravo
Decommissioned in 1962
Owned in 1955 by the Ohio River Company


NATCHEZ at a landing 1872. Style is reminiscent of N.C. Wyeth's but I don't see any artist's name on it. Fun old nostalgia.

Feb 27, 2015: Hi Dave,

As a member of the Society of Illustrators, just wanted to let you know about a 'Steamboat' painting you had on your website. You said it was similar in style to N. C. Wyeth. If you look carefully, you can see the signature of W. J. Aylward on the right hand side, about a third of the way up on near the edge. It's partially obscured by age and/ or flaking paint at the edges.

In my opinion Aylward was a phenomenal marine artist. He studied with Howard Pyle and was a friend of N.C. Wyeth. My friend Doug Allen, who wrote the book ' N. C. Wyeth' A Collection of Paintings etc.' had studied with Mr. Aylward in New Jersey.

If you do 'Google images' you'll see other fine examples of the exciting paintings of W. J. Aylward.

Anthony B. Venti
Union, Maine


While browsing my scans I realized that W.J. Aylward illustration for his own article "Steamboating Through Dixie" for HARPER's MONTHLY Sept. 1915 provided the inspiration for Aylward's own cover for the 1925-26 Montgomery Ward Catalogue.


by John Henton Carter
(Carter wrote humorous articles on steamboating under the pen name Commodore Rollingpin)
Illustrated by L. Berneker
New York, Dawn Publishing Co. 1903
292 pages

The hour for the departure of river boats was five o'clock in the afternoon, and it so happened that this particular Saturday was one of more than ordinary interest. It was well known that Capt. Delaney had spared neither pains nor expense in building the Belle Creole to make her, in point of speed and elegance, superior to any boat that had appeared on the Mississippi.

The J. M. White, (whose time from New Orleans to St. Louis remained unbroken, until the race of the Robert E. Lee with the Natchez, a quarter of a century later), was to depart the same evening.

The Sultana, which held the championship from New Orleans to Louisville, the Duke of Orleans, which had won equal fame by beating all records to Cincinnati, and several other coast packets of acknowledged speed were among those to join in the contest.

From the moment it was known that these famous steamers were to go out together, the event became the principal theme of conversation, not only in New Orleans, but all along the river, for West bound boats had spread the news and bets were being freely made at all points as to the result. As Capt. Delaney had always borne the reputation of owning and commanding the fastest boat on Southern waters, his new venture was expected by his friends to sustain his reputation. Very little freight was taken on board any of the steamers, yet all were well supplied with passengers.

Early in the afternoon faint spiral coils of smoke began to ascend from the chimneys of the boats, indicating that they had already started their fires and were getting up steam.

The day, throughout, had been perfectly clear, but the artificial darkness, created in the furnaces of the boats, (which, by this time had become as so many living, vital creatures, chafing their chains, impatient of restraint), had filled time space above, through which the vague outlines of the sun floated in the West far above the housetops in Algiers. To those living at a distance, the heavens were ominous and served to remind them of an event they rarely failed to witness, the weekly departure of the Mississippi racers, which always occurred on Saturday evening.

Carriages bowled by and took their places a mile or two above the starting point, so that the occupants might get a good view of the boats. Idle sailors leaned over the sides of the ships that for miles lined the river front, and anxiously awaited their coming.

The same condition of things extended to Carrollton and beyond. The tops of the flatboats, near which the contestants would be obliged to pass, swarmed with human beings. Some of the coast packets had already rung their first bell, and the vibrant tones of the others now followed. There was an increased bustle about the ends of the gang planks on the wharf. The few belated passengers were hurried aboard. Another bell, and above an increased volume of smoke. Every man was at his post; the firemen, like so many demons, were hurling the fuel into the roaring furnaces. The planks by this time were all in but one. Another bell, "All aboard."

The J. M. White, with her usual spirit of banter, was the first to start. She swung out into the stream, and, simultaneously with the first stroke of her engines, fired her gun. Down came the flag from the jackstaff; quickly her backward movement was checked, and then, as if in brief contention with the fierce current for mastery, or, like a charger for a moment held back by his rider, she broke away from all restraint and dashed off with the speed of the wind. A score of roustabouts had already taken their places on the forecastle near the capstan, and began their parting song. The leader, mounted on the "bits," towering above the others, and with the palms of his hands pressed hard against his ears, so as to concentrate and strengthen his clarion voice, sang the stanzas, the others joining in the chorus.

Next came the Belle Creole, fresh and beautiful as a bride, with all her flags flying and responding to every vibration of her machinery with an alacrity that suggested the agility of an Atalanta entering the chase. The Sultana and Duke of Orleans were scarcely a length behind. One! two! three! The guns belched forth their notes of defiance, down came the flags, the rousters on each boat poured forth from the forecastle their parting songs and all were off.

The heavens by this time were one brooding canopy of smoke, while pouring from each pair of chimneys below, as if force by some superhuman power, were still denser columns, shooting upward for a moment, and then with a gentle curve falling over into the rear and lying like so many mammoth black, fire charred logs, in a horizontal position above the surface of the river. These plainly marked the track of the boats and changed from straight to serpentine in form, as it became necessary for them to alter their course with the curves of the stream. Just before they started there was a rush made by those near for the upper part of the levee, all wishing to see the contestants pass at full speed. As the J. M. White shot by (scarcely causing a ripple in the water; so delicately was she modeled), a spontaneous burst of applause rent the air. Before this had subsided the Belle Creole was abreast.

Amid the uproar, one among the crowd had uttered no cry of admiration for the leader. This was Blanche Dole, who silently stood among the spectators. In the scene that followed, however, there was a change. She leaped upon a pile of tarpaulins close by, waved her handkerchief, clapped her hands, and cried out, "Hurrah for Mr. Delaney." As the boat was not fifty yards distant, he waved recognition, and the next moment disappeared behind the shipping. The impression she received of him then aroused her as she had never been moved before.

The cheering continued as the Sultana and Duke of Orleans brought up the rear. There was not the distance of a hundred yards between the boats, each forging ahead in single file. The contest, in one respect, seemed unequal but this circumstance served to elicit the greater applause. The Duke of Orleans was scarcely more than half the size of the others, having been built to go through the Louisville canal. She was only one hundred and eighty feet long, and seemed like a pigmy competing with giants.

"She is little, but she is game," shouted one as a parting salute. For a time the crowd remained unbroken; all stood and watched the racers winding their way around the shipping, sometimes partially obscured by the masts and rigging, until at last all faded from the vision, except the dissolving coils of smoke that marked their track.

Among the passengers on each boat were the usual number of sporting men, who, at the time, were wont to infest the Mississippi, but in the excitement no one thought of gambling, except upon the result of the race. Watches were held on all the contestants, and the time to every given point noted. During the first hour neither could claim the advantage; possibly the Duke of Orleans had dropped back a dozen yards, but it was not measured against her. The positions of the J. M. White and the Belle Creole were unchanged.

Capt. Delaney, who was not disposed to force matters, remained at his post on the upper deck. He had a picked crew of officers and firemen in whom he trusted implicitly. In the meantime, the Sultana had been making every possible effort to increase her speed.

Pounded resin, in addition the best quality of pine knots, was being shoveled into the furnace and pokers were kept busy shaking up the fuel to admit of a fuller supply of oxygen. She had gained a little.

Capt. Delaney now left the hurricane deck and went below. The firemen, who kept a close watch on the other boats, gauging their efforts by the necessities of the moment, had become alarmed. Mr. Perkins, the chief engineer, had taken a position near the furnace, where he stood calmly eyeing the men, as if to stir them to greater efforts to increase the steam. Capt. Delaney by this time was at his side. The two held a brief conversation in low tones, when Mr. Perkins said to the mate, who, with several deck hands, was standing by, as if awaiting orders :

"Collins, roll several barrels of resin forward and open them up."

The order was quickly executed. A number of axes were employed and the material for combustion was soon in readiness.

"Try a little of that, boys," said Mr. Perkins, at the same time opening his knife and cutting the cord that bound together a dozen shining new shovels which had just been brought from the forecastle hold by one of the men.

"She nevah tas'e dat yit," cried the captain of the gang on watch, "but I reck'n dat she'll like it."

The coils of black smoke belching from the chimneys immediately became denser and the roar of the furnace louder, and it was evident that a higher tension had been reached. The reserve forces were being called into action. The Sultana was a fraction nearer; her crew, it was plain to be seen, were much elated over their apparent advantage. One great black rouster had gathered up the end of a large rope and stood lashing the nosing of the guard of the boat as if to goad her to the last extremity.

"Yo' kin whip dat ha'um gal ez much ez yo's aimin' to," shouted one of the Belle Creole's firemen, "but she'll nevah make dis 'ere craf' drink stun' watah."

Then came a roar of laughter in which the blacks joined.

The little Duke of Orleans was still a fraction in the rear, but by no means vanquished. Being small, she'd "hug" the shore and take advantages not possible with the other boats. The J. M. White was an easy leader, but had made no gain, the Sultana being the only one of the fleet that had moved forward.

"Don't increase your speed just yet, Mr. Perkins," said Capt. Delaney, as the two parted and he returned to his post above. He had just reached the hurricane deck, when Mr. Ostrander, the pilot, remarked:

"She's working a full stroke and making an effort to pass us."

The severe strain, Capt. Delaney knew, could last but a moment, for the steam would soon be exhausted; but, in the meantime, the Sultana had forged ahead and stood nearly abreast of the Belle Creole. Seeing the impossibility of accomplishing his object the pilot resorted to an unfair method, oftentimes practiced under similar circumstances. He flanked in against the opponent, locked her, and attempted to crowd her into the bank; the effort proved futile, however, for at this moment Capt. Delaney said to the pilot:

"Mr. Ostrander, tell Mr. Perkins to let her out."

The two communicated through the speaking tube.

Immediately the Belle Creole was given a full head of steam and shot away from the Sultana at a rate of speed that gave her the appearance of having relaxed all effort and given up the contest in despair. On the contrary, however, she was doing her best, though in a few moments she had fallen back to her old position in the rear and was still losing. The two had shortened, slightly, the distance between themselves and the J. M. White, but a little extra effort on the part of the latter soon adjusted conditions.

This wonderful steamer was equal to all emergencies. It was quite honor enough for the Belle Creole to hold its own with her, and that was all that Capt. Delaney, at the time, attempted.

It was now nearly nine o'clock and darkness had settled down, though there was a "sun to sun moon," a term conferred on this orb by pilots, when it was full, or nearly so. Sixty miles had been covered, and the Courtney plantation was at hand.

The J. M. White had already made two landings and had dropped a mile into the rear. The Sultana was in a like manner detained, and at this moment was lying at the bank more than a mile off, so that the Duke of Orleans had come to occupy second place.

By the time the Belle Creole had deposited the Courtneys and their effects upon the bank the Duke of Orleans had passed up. Now came the Belle Creole's opportunity. Her opponent would be obliged to stand out and be passed, or, under the cover of necessity, take to the bank.

In building the Belle Creole, Capt. Delaney had given her two inches more diameter of cylinder than necessary in order to exhaust the steam her boilers were capable of generating. He did this, he said, one day to Mr. Perkins, so that the boat would have, if need be, on certain occasions, reserve power. This reserve power was now brought into full play.

The brief delay at the Courtney plantation had been taken advantage of, and when she again took to the stream she had a full head of steam. Mr. Perkins saw his opportunity. He again "let her out," threw the throttle valve wide open, and the Belle Creole, in the language of the rousters, who noticed her wonderful speed, "fairly flew."

Anticipating what was to come, the Duke of Orleans had also husbanded her resources by shutting down and slacking her headway, until the time for the test of powers should arrive, but her efforts were unavailing, for even before she could feign a necessity to land, she was left struggling helplessly in the rear. When at midnight the watch was changed, Capt. Delaney went below before retiring, and addressing Mr. Walters, who had just relieved Mr. Perkins, said:

"Don't crowd her any more tonight ; she has proved her mettle. Let her go along easy."


Sidewheeler, built Cincinnati, Ohio 1845. 447 tons.
Ran New Orleans-Bends 1846, Capt. Champromere.
Burst a steam line Nov. 16, 1849, near New Orleans, five killed.
In New Orleans-Vicksburg trade, 1850, Capt. J . M. White.
Off the lists 1852.

Sidewheeler, built Cincinnati, Ohio, 1842. 307 tons.
Ran Cincinnati-New Orleans.
She was a five-boiler boat and noted for speed.
In March 1844 came up from New Orleans to Cincinnati in 5 days 18 hours, a record never beaten.
Her crew at the time: Capt. C.R. Sedam, master; Louis Krouskropp, clerk; E.W Cunningham, second clerk; Thomas L. Richardson, mate; Thomas M. Rowe, second mate; Isaac West, chief engineer; Wesley Reynolds, Andrew Sweeney and Enoch Clements, assistant engineers.
For several years after, a banner of canvas hung on the forward roof rail boasting of the triumph.

The QUEEN OF THE WEST tried to better the record and failed.
She departed New Orleans on Sunday, May 26, 1844, on this exploit.
Her fastest downbound time Cincinnati to New Orleans was 3 days 20 hours, probably also a record which endures.
Capt. Joel Green was master in 1845.
Burned at Ste. Genevieve, Mo., Apr 29, 1848.

2866 J .M . WHITE
Sidewheeler built Elizabeth, Pennsylavania, 1844.
200 x 30.5 x 7.6. Engines, 30's- 10 ft.
Seven 2-flue boilers.
Paddlewheels 30 ft. dia. working 12 ft. buckets.
She was said to be 233 ft. overall, and 62 ft. wide.

Owned by J.M . Convers, J.M. White and E. N Beebie, all of St. Louis and Convers was master 498 tons. She was designed for speed. A reporter from Spirit of the Age interviewed Captain Convers at Pittsburgh who said she would make the run from New Orleans to St. Louis under four days. Captain Convers was a native of Zanesville, Ohio and is buried there.

She left Pittsburgh on Mar 6, 1844, with passengers eating their noon meal and was at Cincinnati next noon, her time 24 hours 5 minutes-470 miles. During the first season she ran a "speed trial" from New Orleans to St. Louis and confirmed all expectations—came up in 94 hours 9 minutes. The pilots on that occasion were Isaiah Sellers and Nathan Way.

Later on posts were placed along the shores at the 24-hour mark, 48-hour mark, etc. as brags to all and sundry She was unequaled for speed; no other boat could touch her; her crew had to content themselves by surpassing their own records from time to time. Mr. W. Few, chief engineer, said she did the Cairo-St. Louis run a few years later in two hours better time.

Edward H. Beebie was her clerk on the 1844 run—later lived at Galena, Ill. Jonathan Warden, assistant engineer, was living at Independence, Mo., in 1870 and recalled that the valve packing in her engines was cotton and hemp which had to be constantly screwed up, and replenished every day He also recalled that her side-wheels had no circles and when running in drift were frequently pushed back on the arms, a circumstance which happened on the fast trip and she was not delayed to fix them.

The hull shape was designed by John Wakens from a half-section model whittled by William (Billy) King, Elizabeth, Pa. This half-section was a prized possession of Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Lincoln's war secretary, and hung over the door of his Washington office. A widely circulated tale was that Billy King destroyed the half-section with an axe to prevent anyone from duplicating the WHITE's superior lines. J.M . White, Esq. died at St. Louis, Sept. 26, 1846.

Capt. J .C. Swon afterwards ran the boat and remarked, "Convers has often beaten me in the speed of his boat, but he never before has beaten me half so badly as when he sold me the WHITE."

She was more of a plaything; not a commercial success.

Sidewheeler, built Jeffersonville, Indiana, 1843. 527 tons. 237 x 30.5 x 7.5. Enrolled at New Orleans July 3, 1844, Capt. Horace Pease, master and part owner, his partner being Abijah Fisk, New Orleans Capt. A.W Tufts took stock in November 1846 and took command. Capt. Pease was son- in-law of Capt. Tufts. Abijah Fisk was quite well-to-do and had high regard for Peace who was killed when the CONCORDIA exploded (see). This was the largest steamboat at New Orleans in her day.

A brief biography of Carter from

John Henton Carter, son of Dr. John James and Margaret (Hellion) Carter, (formerly of Liverpool England), was born at Marietta, Ohio, May 3, 1834. Dr. Carter dying while his son was yet an infant, his widow, with her two daughters and infant son, returned to her father's (John Henton) home, 93 Oldhall Street, (Henton Block) Liverpool, Eng., where they remained until their return to America, (Marietta, Ohio,) in 1838. Here Mr. Carter received his education.

Upon his mother's death, April 17, 1847, Mr. Carter went South, steamboating upon the Ohio, Mississippi and Red River of the North.

He was married in 1861 and the following year Mr. and Mrs. Carter, with their infant daughter, went to Columbus, Kentucky, and afterwards to Cairo, Illinois. At the close of the Rebellion they settled, with their three children, in St. Louis, where they have resided ever since, with the exception of five years in New York City.

Mr. Carter is an Author and Journalist. He has published numerous prose and poetical works, notably, "The Log of Commodore Rollingpin," "Thomas Rutherton," & "Duck Creek Ballads."

Mr. Carter did journalistic work for many years on the St. Louis Times ; since then he has edited his own publications —"Rollingpin's Annual," the "Veiled Prophets" (October Pageant Number), being especially noteworthy.

Mr. Carter is a member of Pilgrim Congregational Church, St. Louis, Mo., and is a cultured and genial gentleman.

Mrs. Carter, like her husband, was a member of Pilgrim Church, St. Louis, and was constituted a life member of the Womans' Home Missionary Union of Missouri by the ladies of that Church. She possessed a social talent which won her friends among old and young, also a cultured taste which was especially evidenced in art, but as wife, mother, grandmother and home-keeper, she was pre-eminent.

Address, 3323 Lucas Street, St. Louis, Mo.

Interesting that Carter was born in Marietta, Ohio where the Ohio and Muskingum rivers converge and now the S&D group meets every September, the Ohio River Museum is also thereand where the towboat W.P. Snyder Jr. floats at the museum landing on the Muskingum River.

Carter was born on May 3, 1834 and Sam Clemens was born the following year in Florida, MO on Nov 30, 1835.


The artist/designer Mr. Watson "goofed" on the spelling of the novel THE GILDED AGE, he spelled it "The GUILDED Age" so I corrected that mistake and have attached the revised/corrected file.

For the 1935 centennial of Mark Twain's birth (November 30), the November 23 issue of SCHOLASTIC "The American High School Weekly" was dedicated to MARK TWAIN with articles about Sam Clemens and excerpts from his writings. Ernest W. Watson designed the cover with a nice poster-style steamboat over a field of hand-lettered titles from stories, editorials, travel books and novels by Mr. Clemens. Graphic size on publiscation is 8.35 X 10.75 inches.


Must've been state of the art bas relief lithography and dye cut technology for 1890. Apparently a sort of thin film was applied over the image was printed and due to heat and exposure over a hundred years plus resulted in some crackling/blistering visible on the main deck and paddle box etc.

The two flags at the stern appear to be British yachting banners so the design and manufacture of this may have been done in England.


Original letter press poster promoting an excursion aboard the Streckfus line boat J.S. DeLUXE in an antique frame displayed downstairs for many years and finally got around to scanning it without removing it from the frame (upper and lower halves) and assembled it and finessed it to make the attached file.

Overall image area as seen here is 11-3/4 X 15-3/4 inches. September 23 fell on a Tuesday in 1919, that was how I determined the year.

The J.S. DeLUXE (1918-1939) was built using the engines and hull of the packet boat QUINCY (1896-1918). The DeLUXE was the flagship of the Streckful line until the PRESIDENT was launched in 1934.

African American musician Fate Marable conducted the doubly racial stereotyped-name proclaimed here as a "10 Piece COLORED Orchestra" - the "FAMOUS COTTON PICKERS."

The following biography of Band Conductor Fate Marable is edited from the Wikipedia article: Wikipedia

Fate Marable (2 December 1890 - 16 January 1947) was a jazz pianist and bandleader born in Paducah, Kentucky, and learned piano from his mother.

At age 17, he began playing on the excursion steamboats plying the Mississippi River.

Fate soon became bandleader for boats on the Streckfus Line, which held dances and excursions along the river from New Orleans, Louisiana to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Marable appreciated the new "jazz" sound being played by the New Orleans musicians, and the bulk of his band members were recruited from that city.

Members of Marable's bands were expected to be able to play a wide variety of music, from hot numbers to light classics, both play from memory and from sheet music, and above all to keep the dancers happy. Marable was a strict bandleader, demanding musical proficiency and rigid discipline from all his band members, yet allowing them to develop their individual strong points.

Trumpet virtuoso Louis Armstrong's gift for improvisation was recognized as such by Marable, and he allowed "Satchmo" to improvise his breaks rather than play them note for note. Marable's band served as an early musical education for many other players who would later become prominent in jazz, including Red Allen, Baby Dodds, Johnny Dodds, Pops Foster, Narvin Kimball, Al Morgan, Jimmy Blanton, and Zutty Singleton.

In addition to piano and band leading, Marable played the "cally-ope" (calliope) on the boats, the penetrating music from which could be heard for miles up and down the river. So much water from condensing steam produced by the calliope showered down on Marable that he played the keyboard wearing a raincoat and hood.

Fate Marable died of pneumonia in St. Louis, Missouri. He was 56 years old. He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Paducah, Kentucky.

I looked up the cruise sponsors: MOHASSAN GROTTO NO. 22 (NOT "Mohasson" as it's spelled on the J.S. DeLUXE poster) and found that it has been an honorable Masonic order in Davenport, Iowa since 1908, eleven years before the 1919 excursion.

From the Quad City Times
February 19, 2008
by John Willard


After 100 years, Mohassan Grotto remains active in the Quad Cities, [a group of five cities straddling the Mississippi River on the Iowa-Illinois boundary, in the United States. They are Davenport and Bettendorf (in Iowa) and Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline (in Illinois)].

Zipping along in their mini-bikes, miniature Model T patrol or even an antique fire truck painted in the colors and pattern of a Holstein cow, the men in black fezes have delighted generations of Quad-City area parade spectators with their playful antics.

They are members of Mohassan Grotto No. 22, Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm of North America.

It is a complicated name for an organization whose mission is simple: to foster a spirit of good fellowship while helping their fellow citizens in a variety of humanitarian causes.

This month marks a milestone for Mohassan Grotto, whose members all are Master Masons.

On Feb. 26, 1908, a class of 65 candidates was formed, a prelude to the Grotto receiving its charter on July 8 of that year.

As they observe their 100th anniversary, the 350 members of Mohassan Grotto remain an active and vital part of Quad-City life.

Like other Masons—a fraternity of men who practice brotherly love, mutual assistance, equality and trust between each other—they are out front in their community.

This year, they expect to raise more than $30,000 for a variety of causes ranging from cystic fibrosis research to organizations dealing with hearing disorders, Alzheimer's disease and developmental disabilities.

They contribute to a national foundation that provides dental care to children with special needs.

Another boost to the community is a scholarship program that awards $8,000 annually to eight students in fields such as medicine, nursing, dentistry and other health sciences.

Along the way, Mohassan Grotto members and their ladies auxiliary, the Caldron, enjoy good times at their headquarters, Club Mokan, 4227 W. Kimberly Road, and their bingo parlor in the former Northwest Turners Hall at 1602 Washington St., both in Davenport.

Members belong to several units that include the mini-bikers, the Model T patrol, the Fire Bulls fire truck, a drum and bugle corps, a dance band and a Dixieland jazz band.

"We are the fun part of Masonry," says R. Blaine Arnold, a past Monarch of Mohassan Grotto.

Many members have followed in their father's footsteps.

They include Norman Peters, who has, for 35 years, been the editor of the Booster, the group's monthly publication.

His father, Frank Peters, was the editor for 25 years and saved every issue of the publication beginning with its debut in January 1928.

Norman Peters compiled a centennial history of Mohassan Grotto based on his father's collection of the publications.

The Grotto story begins in 1907 when Frank Kincaid, a Mason from Davenport, visited a Grotto in Chicago after an earlier Masonic club in Davenport had failed.

In November of that year, he gathered seven other Masons as the nucleus for a Grotto.

They named it Mohassan Grotto in honor of Mohassan, a guardian of a prince in ancient Persia.

Mohassan Grotto has the distinction of being the 22nd-oldest of the nation's 280 Grottoes and the first one west of the Mississippi River.

Today, it is the largest of the four Grottoes in Iowa and one of the largest in the nation.

During its early years, members met at several downtown spots before moving in 1923 to the then-new Masonic Temple at 7th and Brady streets, which is known today as Palmer College of Chiropractic's Lyceum Hall.

In the 1940s through the early 1950s, the Grotto operated its social club, Club Mokan, in the basement of the Kahl Building in downtown Davenport.

Another festive place was Mokan Country Club near Iowa 22 and South Utah Avenue, west of Davenport.

The Grotto acquired the wooded site in 1950 and replaced its original clubhouse with a new facility in 1977.

Since 1988, the Grotto has been headquartered at its Kimberly Road lodge, which it expanded in 1997.

In the early 1990s, it acquired the old Northwest Turners Hall.

It can seat 400 people for bingo games, a major fundraiser for the Grotto.

Membership once stood as high as 1,600, but while the current rolls are far from that, they are increasing, members say, as the club focuses on family activities.

Many members of Mohassan Grotto also belong to the Shrine, another organization of Masons noted for its children's hospitals.

Shriners wear red fezes rather than the Grotto's black.

Like Grotto members, though, they use an Arabic/Persian motif in their ceremonies and enjoy fun activities.

While not as well known as the Shriners, Grotto members take it all in stride.

"Some say the Grotto is the best-kept secret in Masonry.

And they may be right.

Most of the public doesn't realize we have given several million dollars through the years to many different charities and to so many causes that we can't begin to list them all," Arnold said.


"Widescreen" print ad 11-1/2 x 26 inches, probably intended to be framed and hung in bars to tantalize the taste buds of customers into ordering a glass of "1843" brand bourbon. Scanned in 2 parts, left and right and cobbled together then reduced to suit your requirements. Nice detail on the sternwheel, the row of little windows across the back is different, looks like an "excursion" steamboat.


Dean Ellis painted 5 steamboats for a commemorative set of U.S. first class postage stamps in 1996. In the file with the 5 stamps I have simulated a postage cancel with some wave-like lines along the bottom of each.

In Dean's painting of the ROB'T E. LEE in the larger file his brush strokes are visible particularly in the sky, water, smoke and steam.

Have wondered if there might have been a sixth stamp intended for the commemorative set of the NATCHEZ that wasn't released because there is a print of a painting of the NATCHEZ to which were affixed the 5 commemorative stamps. I sent you a file on that print with the stamps attached that you'll come across when you make your next update.


This steamboat "Joker" was from the US Playing Card Company's edition of the Steamboat 999 deck first introduced in 1883 by Russell, Morgan & Company.

The deck was in production for over a century before being discontinued but now "Dan and Dave" offer a reproduction of a deck of Steamboat 999 playing cards: dananddave.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.*