Steamboat Illustrations, Page 24


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.


Detail from a pictorial map by artist Everett Henry depicting steamboat episodes that Mark Twain dreamed up for THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN.



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.


Ensikat based the pilot house interior on one of the engravings in the October 1874 issue of Scribner's Monthly that we also have posted among the illustrations.

The high angle and low angle cotton packets above the pilot house look familiar and appear to have been derived from vintage photos or illustrations.


Attached is a scan of the quaint graphic of the Belvidere and a transcript of the review of the U.S. "steam-boat" passage from "Mrs. Trollope's" 1832 travelogue DOMESTIC MANNERS OF THE AMERICANS that accompanied it.

Mrs. (Frances Milton)Trollope begins her account of the "steam-boat" journey from New Orleans to Cincinnati by way of Memphis in Chapter 2: "On the first of January, 1828, we embarked on board the Belvidere, a large and handsome boat . . ."

Mrs. Trollope's book can be read in its entirety on Project Gutenberg: gutenberg.org

No. 679.

Mrs. TROLLOPE, in one of the lithographs which accompany her otherwise graphic sketches of American mariners, has furnished the original of the above Engraving.

It represents the Belvidere, a large and handsome boat, in which our lady-traveller voyaged [This is an awkward term, but sailing can scarcely be applied to a steam-boat passage. A Thames captain would, perhaps, call it steaming.]from New Orleans to Memphis, along the vasty Mississippi river.

Yet Mrs. Trollope does not describe this as the largest or handsomest of the many steam-boats which displayed themselves along the wharfs ; and, in a sentence for which even the Americans will thank the writer, she observes :

"The innumerable steam-boats, which are the stage-coaches and fly-wagons of this land of lakes and rivers, are totally unlike any I had seen in Europe, and greatly superior to them."

The fabrics which they most resemble in appearance are the floating baths, (les Latins Vigier;) at Paris. [These are stupendous baths kept by one Vigier. They are stationed in different parts of the Seine. That above the Pont Royal, (have they discarded this name?) opposite the Tuileries, is the most spacious and elegant. It was built in forty days, on a boat as long as the largest vessel. It is two stories high; the galleries are adorned with pillars, pilasters, and handsome ceilings; and it contains 160 baths.]

The annexed drawing will give a correct idea of their form.

The room to which the double line of windows belongs, is a very handsome apartment before each window a neat little cot is arranged, in such a manner as to give its drapery the air of a window-curtain.

This room is called the gentlemen's cabin, and their exclusive right is somewhat uncourteously insisted upon.

The breakfast, dinner, and supper are laid in this apartment, and the lady passengers are permitted to take their meals there.

Mrs. Trollope describes the room destined for the ladies dismal enough, as its only windows are below the stern-gallery; but both this and the gentlemen's cabin are handsomely fitted up, and the former well carpeted ; but," adds the writer, "oh! that carpet! I will not, I may not describe its condition; indeed, it requires the pen of a Swift to do it justice. Let no one who wishes to receive agreeable impressions of American manners, commence their travels in a Mississippi steam-boat." The nuisance to which Mrs. Trollope alludes, is "the incessant, remorseless spitting of the Americans," her indignant census, of which has been made the sport of the critical circles.

There are some interesting particulars of Mrs. Trollope's voyage, which also throw some light upon the economical details of the Belvidere.

The weather was warm and bright, and Mrs. Trollope found the guard of the boat, as they call the gallery that runs round the cabins, a very agreeable station; here Mrs. Trollope and her friend sat as long as light lasted, and sometimes, wrapped in their shawls, enjoyed the bright beauty of American moonlight, long after every passenger but themselves had retired.

The boat had a full number of passengers on board. The deck, as usual, was crowded with the Kentucky flat-boat men, returning from New Orleans, after having disposed of the boat and cargo which they had conveyed thither, with no other labour than that of steering her, the current bringing her down at the rate of four miles an hour. There were about two hundred of these men on board, and when the vessel was stopped to take in wood for finch, they ran, or rather sprang and vaulted over each other's heads to the shore, whence they all assisted in carrying wood to supply the steam-engine ; the performance of this duty being a stipulated part of the payment of their passage.

When the Mississippi is swollen at New Orleans, another traveller, Captain Basil Hall, likens it to a bowl filled tip to the brim, so that it seems as if the smallest shake, or the least addition, would send it over the edge, and thus submerge the city. The foot-path on the embankment is often but nine inches above the level of the stream; the colour of the water is of a dirty, muddy, reddish sort of white ; and the surface, everywhere strongly marked with a series of curling eddies or swells, indicative of great depth. Captain Hall likewise gives a brief description of the steam-boats which ply up and down the Mississippi ; and the passage may be supplementarily tacked to Mrs. Trollope's outline of one of these boats—the Belvidere.

"Thirteen enormous vessels of this description were lying along the banks of the river. One of these, called the Amazon, was just setting off for Louisville, in Kentucky, upwards of 1,400 miles distant, in the heart of the Continent, which they hoped to reach in ten or eleven days, though they had to go in the very teeth of the current.

"These boats are employed exclusively upon the river, where the water is always smooth, and where also they are well sheltered by the woods. These circumstances allow of their accommodations being raised to the height of twenty and sometimes nearly thirty feet above the water. They have two complete and distinct tiers of apartments. The upper one is appropriated entirely to what are called deck passengers, who pay a small sum of money, have no very luxurious accommodations, and provide themselves with food. The cabin passengers, or those who live in the lower apartments, fare differently, and are, of course, required to pay a higher sum for their passage.

"When the Amazon pushed off there could not have been fewer than 110 men standing on the roof, or deck, of the upper tier of berths, while in the lower gangways, passages, and balconies, or galleries, groups of ladies and gentlemen were moving about as if they had been in a fairy castle,—altogether a very lively and peculiar scene."


Harper's Weekly 14 April 1883 issue Steamboat resists a Whirlpool detail in oval vignette



Got the full issue of the Harper's Weekly on 12 May, 1866 that contained engravings based on sketches of famous former war correspondent/artist A.R. Waud (Alfred Rudolph Waud) whose other steamboat art I've sent recently.

Waud wrote the text and refers to his drawings along with comments on an early cally-ope on an un-named steamboat and a church service aboard the steamer RUTH which Waud had traveled down the Mississippi on board from Cairo, Illinois.

The text is on page one and the 2 illustrations both on page

Waud captured the arches overhead and the elaborate mirror reflecting the cabin behind the preacher in the RUTH's cabin very nicely. They're complexity required an experienced draughtsman. The engraver had probably never been in the interior of this style of steamer so the skylights overhead are more conventionally proportioned rectangles, not as long and narrow as most of those overhead windows were.


The good people of Cincinnati look upon their city as some pumpkins' in a business point of view, and point to their levee as an illustration.

I should imagine that the levee does nearly as much business as six New York piers.

At about starting time' there is a great confusion of bells, whistles, and Calliopes.


Attracted by one of the latter, I went aboard to see how the thing was done.

The reader will see how from the sketch I have made.

Certainly it was the best iron-clad music I had heard; and, strange to say, the whistles were in tolerable tune.


The Ruth, one of the finest riverboats, went down the Mississippi from Cairo with your artist, a full complement of passengers, and, it was said, 2600 tons of freight.

As among this transient population there were twelve ministers on their way to the General Conference of the Southern Methodist Episcopal Church in New Orleans we had service on the Sabbath in the gorgeous cabin of the steamer.

The President was prayed for, but Congress was ignored.

The amens to the name of JOHNSON were many and emphatic.

The congregation was attentive, among the most devout being some gamblers.

At the close of the service a subscription was proposed for the benefit of the Methodist Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia, destroyed by the war.

To this I noticed that two Jews contributed, anxious, I suppose, to stand well with their Southern brethren of the Gentile persuasion.

As for the ministers they exhibited feelings of bitterness toward the North quite unworthy of their profession.


This is an original March 26, 1870 Harper's Weekly page (with color added by someone by hand) with 3 scenes that were drawn by A.R. Waud of scenes along the Mississippi River that were then prepared by engravers at Harper's for publication.

Alfred Rudolph Waud (1828-1891) was an artist and illustrator, born in London, England who emigrated to the U.S. where he became celebrated for the sketches he made on the battlefields and behind the lines during the entire length of the Civil War from 1861-1865. Waud's war time sketches were also engraved and illustrated news reports of the battles of the Civil War.


Have had this framed downstairs for decades and finally got around to scanning it though the glass in the frame.

This is another engraving from a drawing by A.R. Waud, also hand painted by someone, probably during the 20th century.

The Levee at St. Louis 1872 from Picturesque America, published by D.Appleton, NY. 1873

Some history on the steamboat below courtesy of Lewis Verduyn on his Steamboat Times site: steamboattimes.com

LADY LEE and wharf boat with the Eads Bridge in the background. Construction of the bridge began in 1867 and was completed in 1874. At the time of this etching in 1872, the stone approaches would have been in place and the steel arch work well advanced.

LADY LEE was built 1871, at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Operated for the Carter Line from St. Louis to Red River, under Capt. G.F. Shields, master. In 1874 she was owned by the Illinois & St. Louis Packet Co.. She was lengthened from 176 ft to 227 ft in 1881. Ran for the Star Line in the St. Louis - Missouri River trade. On Mar. 29, 1882, she backed out of a landing 2 1/2 miles above Sibley, Missouri, into a strong side wind that drove her onto a snag, sinking her.

[The following will come in handy to folks using steamboats.com for research. There's quite a bit of information in the text that accompanied this lithograph when it was first published. I've rearranged and abridged it for space and clarity.]

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.


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