Steamboat Illustrations, Page 24


Catfish Bend Storybook Game - 1978
(composite of game box cover attached)
Old and young alike will delight in this imaginative game based on Ben Lucien Burman's classic Catfish Bend stories.

Doc, Judge Black, J.C. the Fox, Rabbit, Frog, Old Joe the Alligator, Beaver, Goose, City Fox, City Rat and Bloodhound ... all the Catfish Bend characters come to life in this unique reading game.

Players compete to collect the most characters after moving along the colorful Mississippi River.


SPRAGUE illustration, artist's initials "R.C."

1975 Automatic Switch Co.

ASCO for series of American Master Performers

pictorial area (without margins) 8.75 x 12 inches


"Midnight Race on the Mississippi," lithograph of the race between the Danna and Fulton published by Thomas Kelly, 17 Barclay St., N.Y., 18 1/4 x 25 1/4 inches

Thomas Kelly was an Irish immigrant who published this steamboat race scene in imitation of Currier & Ives so this image can go on one of those pages. Have not found a particular date for it yet, most likely 1860's. Can't find any mention of a steamboat named DANNA (so this could very well be a misspelling of the speedy steamer DIANA). There are three steamboats named FULTON from the mid 1800's in Way's Packet Directory. One of them may have been the boat depicted in this work of art.

I bought this framed and received it last week. It needs to be removed from the frame and restored to resolve some tears and other flaws. Apparently the first editions of this work were hand colored and this has to be a later "knock off" by a publisher aiming to provide a more affordable print for the less prosperous collector. A first printing then as now would cost at least twice as much as this one did.


In 2004 Ed Garbert (1928-2015) and I used our computers to create this panoramic re-creation of how we speculated Hannibal, Missouri probably looked in July of 1848 based on drawings made by English artist Henry Lewis (1819-1904) when he traveled down the Mississippi River from St. Paul to New Orleans sketching rivertowns and cities. Returning to England Lewis used his own sketches as reference to paint with the help of assistants, a huge touring panorama of the Mississippi River that he presented as a narrated traveling show in European cities. The long canvas was 12-feet-high by 1,250 yards long that was exhibited by cranking the "panorama" from left to right between vertical rollers and was lit by the stage footlights of the time. Lewis also made 80 individual color lithographs of selected rivertowns, cities and scenic landmarks that were published first in an 1854 German edition entitled VALLEY OF THE MISSISSIPPI ILLUSTRATED and later in an English edition.

Steve Railton at the University of Virginia has included our panorama in the portion of his Mark Twain site devoted to Sam Clemens, Hannibal, MO and how Mark Twain's memories of the town and the Mississippi provided the inspiration for the adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Pudd'nhead Wilson as well as anecdotes that he included in his correspondence, his travel books and his autobiographical writings.


According to Dave Thomson, this representation of Hannibal is based on Henry Lewis' sketchbook pages of 31 July 1848:

"The panorama was done in the style of a post office mural from the Depression-era WPA. The white building above the steamboat paddle box represents the office of Justice of the Peace J. M. Clemens (Sam's father). The Clemens family lived one block further back from the river.

"Using the 1854 map of Hart and Mapother as well as Ruger's 1869 bird's eye view I determined as closely as possible the materials the depicted buildings were made of, brick predominating with the white and gray buildings constructed from wood. The buildings on the far left are the pork slaughtering and packing business. The building on the far right I believe was a sawmill. Other pork packing businesses and a tobacco factory most likely occupied the neighboring buildings on the far right. The other brick structures would have been occupied by hostelries, merchants and tradesmen, warehouse facilities, & Co. As a foreground focal point I added the steamboat "Missouri" (aka the "Big Missouri"), which operated on the Mississippi from 1845-1851. The "Big Missouri" is the boat Ben Rogers "personates" in Chapter 2 of Tom Sawyer.

"The image was colorized with the help of my friend Ed Garbert. We put the light source in the east, as the village would appear in the morning (and since the town is laid out at a northwest to southeast angle parallel to the river, this is how the buildings are lit to best advantage). Ed 'painted' the majority of the buildings with a Photoshop program and I modified the foliage, added the steamboat and modified the color scheme.

"The National Geographic article 'The Mighty Mississippi' (1971) reproduces the two pages from Lewis' sketchbook on which this picture is based. My original black and white rendering of this scene was featured on the cover and fly leaves of Hannibal Too, by Hurley and Roberta Hagood (1986)."


There are 18 steamboat pencil drawings in this spiral bound collection:

Portraits from the Past

Drawings and Text by Neal R. Finch
Fineline Co.
St. Charles, MO 1977

My favorite is the one on the last page entitled "Packet Portfolio" with vignettes of stacks, whistles, bell and pilot house.


Exceptional 1875 pass for the Evansville, Cairo & Memphis Steam Packet Co. that also had an had office Paducah, Kentucky. They operated the steamboats ARKANSAS BELLE, the IDLEWILD and the QUICK STEP. There are many pieces of very early sheet music which had the subheading Quick Step (a fast paced step in "social dancing") including the STEAMBOAT QUICK STEP which sounds like an Irish jig.

The term was revived and compressed into one word: the Quickstep in the 1920's as a fast paced dance step to accompany ragtime and jazz numbers which became a musical "craze" in those days.

Love that name "Quick Step" for a steamboat. Reminds me of the ancient Greek "Terpsichore" which is synonymous with "delight in dancing." Terpichore was the goddess of dance and chorus - one of the nine female muses in Greek mythology.


Detail from the fly leaf color illustration of Fred Way's BETSY ANN painted in a combination watercolor and opaque technique by British artist John Worsley for a 1984 Exeter Books abridged addition of Mark Twain's TOM SAWYER. We have another illustration by Worsley of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn at a steamboat landing, along with the 1853 daguerreotype of the St. Louis levee that the artist used as reference.


Wrap around dust jacket for the catalogue for a 2004 exhibit at The Historic New Orleans Collection . . .

A Cultural Tapestry Exhibition Catalogue

The following explanatory and descriptive caption for the cover art is transcribed from page 38 of the book:

Boyd Cruise: The Levee at New Orleans circa 1859
watercolor on paper painted in 1959
The Historic New Orleans Collection 1992.94
gift of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond H. Kierr in memory of Robert M. Kierr

Boyd Cruise (1909-1988), the first director of The Historic New Orleans Collection, is noted for his paintings depicting, with extraordinary detail, the streets and buildings of New Orleans as they appeared prior to the Civil War. In this painting Cruise shows the wharves of the city as they would have appeared in 1859. At that time, the wharves swarmed with sailing vessels, oceangoing steamboats, and, most impressively, tall-stacked riverboats, of which four thousand arrived at New Orleans in that year alone.

Cruise shows the hustle and bustle of business in the city; its wealth is evident in the merchandise piled on the wharf. By 1859, the wide-plank wharf shown here paralleled the river for miles. It was not simply a place for laborers; here one could meet businessmen, tourists, and fashionable promenaders.

This catalogue was published in conjunction with the 2004 exhibition at The Historic New Orleans Collection, "From Louis XIV to Louis Armstrong" presents six essays addressing various periods and themes in the history of Louisiana—the colonial era, the development of 19th-century New Orleans, the visual arts from 1870 to 1940, and jazz.

Underscoring the major areas of emphasis in The Collection's holdings, From Louis XIV to Louis Armstrong features full-color reproductions of works by Louisiana artists William Aiken Walker, William Henry Buck, Ellsworth and William Woodward, and Robert Wadsworth Grafton, among others, as well as black-and-white and color images of jazz funerals, second-line parades, and various jazz artists and brass bands.

2004 • 104 pp. • Hardcover • ISBN 2-85056-770-1 • $35

View excerpts from the essays examining jazz and the visual arts in the spring 2004 issue of the Quarterly (pdf, 582 KB).

Ordering: The Shop at The Collection
(504) 598-7147


A 12 1/2 X 11 inch print of PORT NEW ORLEANS, another painting with steamboat content by artist Tommy Thompson (formerly of New Orleans, now living in Fort Worth, Texas) is available from Thompson Fine Art at this link: tomsart4u.com

Elsewhere in this wing of the steamboat.com museum you can see Tommy Thompson's painting MAJESTIC PASSAGE (of the steamboat VIRGINIA on the river at New Orleans) and his painting of the steamboat CARNEAL GOLDMAN on the river at New Orleans.


Attached detail of Tommy Thompson's 1990 painting of the VIRGINIA at New Orleans that he entitled "MAJESTIC PASSAGE." I bought the original from Joan Liberty in New Orleans back in the early 1990s.



McClure's Magazine
Vol 21, No 4
August 1903
pages 361 - 370


An excerpt of text from the end of the story that accompanies the illustration of the ILLINOIS listing way over to starboard:

While Murnane talked, the "Illinois" lay in the water sluggish as a dying creature.

Fifty feet from the dock she lost headway and commenced sliding back with the current.

Murnane wheeled toward the pilot house like a flash. "Now, Hi," he shouted.

Davis, snatching fast at the bell ropes, sent a wild alarm to the engineers and screamed into the tube:

"Now give it to her, give it to her."

The engines answered with jar upon jar, the steamer hung still, then moved ahead again.

The black river washed over the main deck and joined the river rising in the hatches.

The "Illinois" lurched to port, feebly grazed Dubuque dock, and sank like lead in eight feet.

The decks were slanting like toboggan slides, the fires drowned, the engineers and the deck crew up to their necks, Davis fast in the pilot house casings, and we St. Louis fellows hanging by our nails to the remnants of the cabin skylight; but Murnane, braced on a chimney guy, was as gravely watchful as though his steamboat was landing in a twenty-foot harbor with a stiffs water foaming at the bow.

"Get out your head and stern lines, lively, Tim," he ordered. "I want a spring line too."

Burns's men, wet, but grinning, scrambled out of the river and 'ashore with the hawsers, and drew them taut on the mooring piles.

"All solid, sir," sung Burns.

Murnane looked back for the "Sultana"; she was just emerging from the drawbridge.

Turning again to the dock, he picked the Mayor of Dubuque in the crowd.

Steamer "Illinois" is moored," said Murnane, solemn as a judge.

"I believe the articles specify: The first boat to tie up.'"

"Correct," returned the Mayor, just as solemn.


Henry Lewis emigrated to Boston from England with his parents when he was 10 years old and at the age of 17 he moved to St. Louis where he was apprenticed to a carpenter and discovered that he was a natural born artist when he began painting scenic backdrops on canvas for the St. Louis Theatre.

Attached is Plate 2 from THE VALLEY OF THE MISSISSIPPI ILLUSTRATED by Lewis, consisting of 78 lithographs with informative text, that he made from sketches and paintings he had drawn and painted himself between 1846 and 1848 of towns and scenic wonders on the Mississippi River between St. Paul and the Gulf of Mexico.

Beginning in 1848 Lewis painted a 75 thousand square foot horizontally scrolling "Panorama" of the Mississippi which he toured with and narrated as an educational traveling show.

In the Panorama Lewis specified that the steamboat GRAND TURK was wooding at Commerce, Missouri.

In the lithograph, Lewis located the wooding scene on the Mississippi below the mouth of the Red River.

Source material:

Henry Lewis
"The Valley of the Mississippi Illustrated"
Edited by Bertha Heilbron
Translated from the German by Hermina Poatgieter
Published in St. Paul by the Minnesota Historical Society, 1967

"Painting the River: Henry Lewis's Great National Work" by Lisa Knopp

A copy of the German first edition "Das Illustrirte Mississippithal"
originally published in the German language at Dusseldorf circa 1854-58
was sold in New York City by Bonham's auctioneers in December 2010 for $61,000

Chapter 2 below has been edited and abridged from Hermina Poatgieter's translation for the 1967 St. Paul, Minnesota edition:



This illustration [Plate 2] represents one of the largest New Orleans steamboats wooding at night—a singularly wild and striking scene, which shows the character of the country below the mouth of Red River, where the Spanish moss, as it is called, is hanging in immense festoons from the trees, giving to the landscape a solemn and funeral-like appearance.

The appearance and construction of the Western steamboats—peculiar only to the Mississippi and its tributaries are characterized by their light draft, speed, and capability for carrying freight.

The boats are built with a perfectly flat bottom without keel and very sharp at the bow.

The hold in the largest class of boats is rarely more than six feet deep and the engine and boilers are placed on the deck, and not in the hold of the vessel as is usually the practice.

The boilers vary in number from two to eight according to the size of the vessel and are placed side by side forward, the mouths of the fireplaces being just under the chimneys.

The engines, of which there are usually two, are back of the boilers.

These are always horizontal high-pressure engines, as it has been found that none other will answer owing to the immense amount of sediment found in the waters of the Mississippi, and which directly cuts to pieces the peculiarly constructed valves of the low-pressure engines.

Back of the engines is the place called the deck, where all that class travels who cannot afford to go in the cabin.

The boats on the Mississippi all burn wood, and such are the immense quantities destroyed in this manner that, had not nature provided an inexhaustible supply, some other fuel would have had long since to take its place. The deck hands are always employed to assist in the operation of wooding.

The ladies and gentlemen's cabin extends the whole length of the boat, over the boilers and machinery, and there are no steamboats in the world which supply such comfortable accommodations and such good fare as those on the Mississippi. The whole of each side of the boat is occupied by the staterooms (as the sleeping apartments are called).

These rooms accommodate two persons each and, although not large, are exceedingly convenient. There are two doors to each room, one opening to a sort of veranda that runs round the boat and the other to the cabin, so that on a warm summer's day you can sit in your stateroom and see and hear everything that is going on in the cabin, at the same time watching the rapid and ever-varying panorama as you rapidly pass the shore.

The prices of traveling here in the cabin are very low considering the accommodations the traveler enjoys.

From New Orleans to St. Louis the average price is $15.

For this you receive your stateroom, three meals a day, all attention—and no servants or stewards to be paid—a practice the Americans do not believe in, and if any servant either in a hotel or steamboat is ever known to have asked for money, he is immediately discharged.

The upper deck of the boat or, as it is called, the hurricane deck, is the general promenade for the cabin passengers; no spot can offer more inducements after the heat of the day, and during a fine moonlight night, especially to the smoker and the lover; for many a delicate Havana has there wasted its fragrance on the desert air, and many a young heart has yielded itself up—a willing captive—to the tender influence.

The high tower-like building between the chimneys is the pilothouse, elevated in this manner so that the person steering can see ahead and detect the breaks and ripples in the water that indicate the presence of the dangerous snags, sawyers, and other impediments.

The rooms underneath [in the "texas"] are occupied as sleeping rooms for the pilots and engineers, and the high pole [called the "jack-staff"] fixed on the bow of the boat with the large black ball is for the pilot to take the range of objects ahead.

The time occupied in making the voyage from New Orleans to St. Louis is, at a good stage of water, about four and a half days, and if the water is low the boat has to run slower.

From St. Louis to the Falls of St. Anthony, 1,000 miles, the time taken is usually six days; at low water eight or ten, owing to delay at the rapids, where the boat has to take out a great part of her cargo to lighten her.

The fare charged on the Upper Mississippi route is from six to eight dollars.

The largest and finest boats are all found running below St. Louis, as there is generally not water enough for them on the Upper river.

These boats will average a speed of thirteen miles an hour against the current, while those that run above St. Louis, being smaller and of less power, will make only from eight to ten.

The Western boats, even with care and without serious accident, will not last more than four or five years; this is owing to the wear and tear in getting over sand bars, etc., at low water, and the frail construction of the boat; the engine and boilers are then taken out and placed in a new hull and the old boat is used as a wharf boat for landing goods and passengers upon, at the various small towns; sometimes they are turned into floating hotels and shops.


The cigar manufacturer chose the Steamboat Grand Turk for the cigar band. [See illustration above.] In addition to this version with a red background (XII 101) this came with 3 other versions blue(XII 102), brown (XII 103) and green (XII 104).

The red one was not only in the best condition it was also the best looking of the 4.


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.*