Steamboat Illustrations, Page 26


Artist: Harold Stasny 1979
'Riverboat' - Full Sheet
22" high x 30" wide

Can't tell if this was done "on location," from memory or just "imagined." Reminds me vaguely of a lighthouse tender that was turned into a Haunted House to frighten visitors during October & Halloween. The pilot house is not really big enough and the roof of the "Texas" cabin under the pilot house has a "peak" like a "landlubber's" building but there's some interesting atmosphere and technique going on in the painting itself. The dealer I bought this from said that there were indications that Harold Stasny may at one time have been an art instructor at a Louisiana university.

The name on the paddlebox from what I can make out looks like nonsense, something like: PxhPJY probably just improvised to simulate a name without being actual words.


This is one of the weirdest early engravings I've ever seen of a steamboat

The somewhat "Gothic" treatment makes the boat look like the boat had been to Hell and back in the style of French artist Gustave Doré French: 1832 - 1883)

Doré had a flare for portraying demonic subjects in his illustrations for the Bible (1866), Dante's Inferno (1857) and Milton's Paradise Lost (1866) as well as illustrations for many other works of literature and also the "real" world such as London, England (1872) in which he included the squalor of its most impoverished neighborhoods which dismayed critics of the time who weren't used to seeing the seamy side of Europe's big cities represented so unflinchingly.

In 1853, Doré was commissioned to illustrate the works of Lord Byron which could have been when he or a student of his could have possibly produced this image of the CINCINNATI, 1850-55. This is from the Murphy Library collection, Negative number 7406.


Graphic on a desk blotter depicting "levee boats" . . . the artist had a curious style that is unusual for the subject matter.


Towboat illustration from C.H. (Cornelius Hugh) Dewitt's illustrations for the book "The Story of the Mississippi" by Marshall McClintock, Harper & Brothers 1941.

The actual JOSEPH B. WILLIAMS (1876-1914) described by Fred Way as the largest and most powerful towboat on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers (at least up until the SPRAGUE came along). Dewitt shrunk the WILLIAMS down to a modest little feller in this pastel and colored pencil artwork for "children of all ages."


George Washington Cable was a prominent Louisiana writer who wrote fact and fiction about New Orleans and all classes of Southern society, most notably the Creoles. Cable and Mark Twain went on a lecture tour together in the U.S. together during late 1884 and 1885.

Cable's 1914 Mississippi steamboat novel GIDEON's BAND was illustrated by Frederick C. Yohn who illustrated other steamboat stories in periodicals and many paintings of scenes of the American Revolution including, his best known work was of Washington at Valley Forge.

Attached one of Yohn's beautiful illustrations for Cable's novel, this one set on the upper deck of the fictional steamboat "Votaress" with pilot house, starboard 'scape pipe, paddle box, "Texas" cabin and a part of the lower portion of the starboard smokestack. The colorful costumes of the six characters accurately evoke the flavor of that antebellum Southern world.

Below is text that I abridged from the first two chapters of the novel.

A Tale of the Mississippi
by George Washington Cable (1844-1925)
[Frederick Coffay Yohn] (1875 - 1933), NEW YORK



Saturday, April, 1852.

New Orleans, Louisiana . . . the Mississippi River

. . . this great sun-swept, wind-swept, rain-swept, unswept steamboat levee.

. . . along that mile-wide front . . . there were a hundred river steamers . . . you would behold with one sweep of the eye.

. . . letting themselves be unloaded and reloaded, stood the compacted, motionless, elephantine phalanx of the boats.

. . . their low, light-draught hulls, with the freight decks that covered them doubled in carrying room by their widely overhanging freight guards, were hid by the wilderness of goods on shore.

Hid also were their furnaces, boilers, and engines on the same deck, sharing it with the cargo.

But all their gay upper works, so toplofty and frail, showed a gleaming white front to the western sun.

You marked each one's jack-staff, that rose mast high from the unseen prow, and behind it the boiler deck, high over the boilers.

Over the boiler deck was the hurricane roof, above that the officers' rooms, called the "texas."

Above the texas was the pilot-house, and on either side, well forward of the pilot-house and towering abreast of each other and above all else—higher than the two soaring derrick posts at the two forward corners of the passenger and hurricane decks, higher even than the jack-staff's peak—stood the two great black chimneys.

. . . More than half the boats, this April afternoon, flew from the jack-staff of each, to signify that it was her day to leave, a streaming burgee bearing her name.

A big-lettered strip of canvas drawn along the front guards of her hurricane-deck told for what port she was "up," and the growing smoke that swelled from her chimneys showed that five was her time to back out.

In the midst of the scene . . . lay a boat which specially belongs to this narrative.

A pictorial poster, down in every café and hotel rotunda of the town, called her "large, new, and elegant," and such she was in fair comparison with all the craft on all the sixteen thousand navigable miles of the vast river and its tributaries.

Her goal was Louisville, more than thirteen hundred miles away. Her steam was up, a velvet-black pitch-pine smoke billowed from her chimneys, and her red-and-white burgee, gleaming upon it, named her the Votaress.



Her first up-river trip!

The crowd waiting on the wharf's apron to see her go was larger and included better types of the people than usual, for the Votaress was the latest of the Courteney fleet, hence a rival of the Hayle boats, the most interesting fact that could be stated of anything afloat on Western waters.

So young was she, this Votaress, so bridally fresh from her Indiana and Kentucky shipyards, that the big new bell in the mid-front of her hurricane roof shone in the low sunlight like a wedding jewel.

Its parting strokes had sounded once but would sound twice again before she could cast off.

Both pilots were in the lofty pilot-house, down from the breast-board of which a light line ran forward to the bell's tongue, but neither pilot touched the line or the helm.

For the captain's use another cord from the bell hung over the hurricane deck's front and down to the boiler deck rail, but neither up there on the boiler deck nor anywhere near the bell on the roof above it was any captain to be seen.


SPREAD EAGLE by Don Langeneckert - original is in the collection of the Missouri Historical Society

available on various sizes on paper or canvas from Fine Art America:


I just received the 9.13 x 14 inch print on archival matte paper - Sure is a painting with "high definition."


Attached scan of the dust jacket for the British Book Club edition of STEAMBOAT GOTHIC (1952 Julian Messner Publisher). Fans of Mrs. Keyes' novels will notice that the painting on the dust jacket in the British edition is a "mirror image" of the American edition which has a charmingly stylized representation of "San Francisco" plantation house on the right (front of the cover) and the Mississippi River landing with steamboat on the left (back of the cover). I found this edition on eBay and jumped at the chance to get a pristine dust jacket since the jackets on all the domestic editions I've seen are faded and worn.

The author Frances Parkinson Keyes (pronounced "Kize") lived in a New Orleans home on Chartres Street in the French Quarter that was build in 1826. The home's most famous resident was Confederate General Pierre Beauregard rented and lived in it with his two sons from 1865 to 1868. Frances Parkinson Keyes lived in the home from 1945 until her death in 1970. The home is now a museum known as the Beauregard-Keyes House that has been preserved as it was when Keyes lived there which includes the office where she wrote many of her novels set in Old Louisiana and New Orleans including STEAMBOAT GOTHIC.

Among the best known of her novels set in these locations are THE RIVER ROAD, 1945 - DINNER AT ANTOINE's, 1948 and MADAME CASTEL'S LODGER, 1962 based on the three years that General Beauregard lived in what became her house.

Fred Way was Mrs. Keyes historical consultant on the steamboats in the novel, especially the RICHMOND (1867-1870). Fred was among the guests invited to her New Orleans home to celebrate the publication of STEAMBOAT GOTHIC in 1952. No expense was spared in giving Mrs. Keyes' historical consultants the most lavish meal possible to show her gratitude for their assistance in assuring historical accuracy in the novel.

Below are several citations including the story of how the plantation house came to be called "San Francisco." It was a spin off of the French slang term "Sans Fruscin" (without a penny in my pocket) implying that the builder of the home spent everything they had to make the house one of the most unusual of all plantation houses in Louisiana. It has an Oriental flavor to me . . . I toured both "San Francisco" and the "Beauregard-Keyes House in October, 1989.

Steamboat Gothic is a true gothic novel set on Louisiana's famed River Road. The plantation home that inspired this novel is still in existence and open for daily tours. The plantation is called "San Francisco" and its mid-Victorian architecture is reminiscent of a steamboat. Set between 1865 and the Depression, Steamboat Gothic discusses the change in transportation methods from steamboat to railroad and the effect the change had upon the plantations along the River Road. In the UK, Steamboat Gothic was published as two volumes, Steamboat Gothic in 1952, and Larry Vincent in 1953. The first book covers a period from 1869 to 1895, and the second a period from 1897 to 1930. Eyre and Spottiswoode published both titles in the UK.

Brief history of the San Francisco Plantation house
On the banks of the Mississippi River, less than an hour's drive west of New Orleans, stands one of the most remarkable examples of mid-nineteenth century architecture in Louisiana.
Built in 1856 by Edmond Bozonier Marmillion, the house was originally named "St. Frusquin", a name derived from the French slang term, "Sans Fruscin," which means "without a penny in my pocket" (presumably, a reference to its high cost).


In the photograph of the RICHMOND from the Murphy Library both of the following unique features that Fred Way mentions in his history of the boat can be seen:

1. The "ladies observation pilot house" at the rear of the hurricane roof.
2. The sign painter's lettering above the boat's name on the side of the wheel house that reads "35 Pounds Steam LOW PRESSURE."

Excerpt from
Chapter 4
by Francis Parkinson Keyes

As the RICHMOND came floating into view, her clean-cut bow swelling gracefully back toward her great wheels, she rested with such apparent lightness on the water that the effect was almost one of some ethereal craft, gliding toward the shore of a magic lake, rather than that of a powerful river boat, slowly approaching a dingy city wharf.

. . . they had gone aboard and were passing slowly through the main cabin to their stateroom. Here was the thick-piled, rich-colored carpet, extending the entire length of the vast channel-like saloon. Here was the rosewood furniture, elaborately carved and upholstered in satin damask. Here was the concert grand piano, also of rosewood, also elaborately carved. Here was the great series of golden chandeliers, glittering with glass prisms, bright with a thousand burners. Here were the skylights of tinted glass, emblematically depicting scenes and products of the Southland—the cotton fields, the orange groves, the avenues of magnolias in full bloom. Here were the gilded mirrors and moldings, the fretwork and marquetry, the panels depicting the city of Richmond, to which this floating palace owed her name, and the city of New Orleans, which was her home port.

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


Sidewheel Packet

OWNERS: Captain J. Neal; Captain Nate Green and others (1870)

OFFICERS & CREW: Captain J. Stut Neal (master); William Winton (chief engineer); John S. Woolfolk (1st clerk); R.P. Lodge (2nd clerk); Wes Whitlow (mate); Anderson Lewis (steward); B.A. Congar (clerk)

From Way's Packet Directory Number 4753: The RICHMOND

Original cost, $240,000. The hull was built at Madison, Indiana by Vance, Armstrong and Company in 1867. The boat was completed by Alex Temple.

Five of her boilers were from the Jacob Strader; the sixth one was new and used as an extra for auxiliaries.

In the main cabin was a special steam gauge for all passengers to see.

On her wheelhouses, for a time, was lettered "35 Pounds Steam" as an advertisement of safe travel.

Her passenger cabin contained 70 "parlor" staterooms.

An unusual feature was a ladies' observation pilot house built on the skylight roof aft of the texas.

Access was gained by a spiral staircase which originated in the main ladies' cabin below.

The main cabin was graced with an oil painting titled "Richmond on the James".

Roustabouts called her "the Rebel Home".

A newspaper called The Richmond Headlight was published on board.

She ran New Orleans-Louisville. In spite of all her magnificence, she wasn't successful financially and was put into a U.S. marshal sale in 1870.

Captain Green and others bought her and took her to St. Louis for the New Orleans trade.

On April 7, 1870 she hit the bank 45 miles below St. Louis.

Cargo had to be jettisoned to keep her from sinking and she had to return to St. Louis for repairs.

She managed to turn a profit nonetheless. The Richmond has a major role in Frances Parkinson Keyes' novel, Steamboat Gothic.


Found this on Etsy, had never seen or heard of it before.

Page 129 of the original LIFE magazine August 18, 1898 Mr. Sam Clemens MARK TWAIN looking rather like a drawing by the extraordinarily entertaining French artist Honoré Daumier 1808-1879. The LIFE artist isn't identified but he may have been influenced by Daumier. There was a paragraph on the opposite page about Clemens that was intended to be "funny" but instead pretty much nonsensical and not worth including.


An ad for Mark Twain Showboats (cigars).


The Mississippi Pilot . . . UK edition of the Old Times/Mississippi memoirs from the Atlantic Monthly

Just acquired from the UK . . . an undated edition of Mark Twain's (Sam Clemens') THE MISSISSIPPI PILOT published by Croome & Co., Bride Street, LONDON.

Having been serialized as OLD TIMES on the MISSISSIPPI in the Atlantic Monthly in 1875 the Canadians pirated that book under the same title but in England they must have given SLC his fair due.

OLD TIMES was Clemens' reminiscence of "learnin' the river" as a "cub pilot" under Horace Bixby and then becoming a licensed pilot on the Mississippi between St. Louis and New Orleans.

Pages 1 - 142 contain Sam's dissertation preceded by the following preface, assuring the reader that it would be "very humorous"; contained "nothing to offend" and assumed that the readers would be men, not women since the reader is referred to as "him":

The following pages contain a very humorous account of the life of a Mississippi Pilot.

Amid his varied experiences, Mr. Clemens, the writer of this book, appears to have studied piloting ; and if our information be correct, he assumed his nom de plume, Mark Twain, from the sounding line in use on the river, the cry 'mark twain' being the depth indicated, as mentioned at page 31.

But the pilot's life, as described by Mark Twain, is not merely a record of adventure. It is full of information; and, under the thick veil of quaintness and American drollery, there lies much practical knowledge and information.

The difficulties of the Mississippi Pilot are no fiction, and while Mark Twain carries us along with him in easy flowing narrative, we are constantly reminded of the danger of the channel and the skill of the pilot himself.

And although 'Mark Twain' does not shrink from some forcible word-painting in his book, there is nothing to offend even the fastidious reader in the pages now offered for his perusal.

THE MISSISSIPPI PILOT: Chapters and page numbers -

I. How I Became a Pilot 1

II. A "Cub" Pilot's Experience ; or, Learning the River 14

III. The Continued Perplexities of Cub Piloting 35

IV. The "Cub " Pilot's Education nearly Completed 55

V. "Sounding." Faculties peculiarly Necessary to a Pilot 74

VI. Official Rank and Dignity of a Pilot. The Rise and Decadence of the Pilots' Association 96

VII. Leaving Port : Racing : Shortening of the River by Cut-offs : A Steamboats Ghost : "Stephen's "Plan of "Resumption" 123

The second half of the book contains Bret Harte's novel MEN OF SANDY BAR followed by 14 of Harte's poems. The Harte portion is paginated from scratch, commencing with 1 and finishing with 162.

No mention of Harte on the front cover but the title page includes Harte's name and title in the same sized fonts under Sam's first place position.

5 x 7/14 x .80 inches thick.

LIFE on the MISSISSIPPI, which included the piloting memoirs from OLD TIMES would be published in 1883 so this MISSISSIPPI PILOT edition was likely published between 1876 when the memoirs were published in the Atlantic and 1882.

recent acquisitions

A composite of title pages and spines of two steamboat books published in matching formats by the same publisher in the late 1920's.

"Mississippi Steamboatin', a History of Steamboating on the Mississippi and Its Tributaries"
by Herbert Quick & Edward Quick
Harry Holt & Co. 1926
350 pages

"The Pageant of the Packets: A Book of American Steamboating"
by Garnett Laidlaw Eskew
Harry Holt & Co. 1929
314 pages



The rendering of the clouds in the sky on this cover for Helen Walker's song is the most distinctive feature of the art work. The clouds have something of an "Art Deco" design and may have been derived from the illustrations of Arthur Rackham.

Walker's theme and writing is extremely conventional and evidently derived from listening to the many nostalgic songs of Stephen Foster and other sentimental composers and lyricists. Foster's "Old Folks at Home" (best remembered as "Swanee River") included the key phrase "all the world is sad and dreary everywhere I ROAM" which handily rhymed with HOME.

Sheet music - 1922
Forster Music Publisher Inc.
235 South Wabash Ave

Tempo - "Slow Waltz time"

Dear old Mississippi Steamboat
As you slowly leave the pier,
You awaken in my mem'ry thoughts of one I love so dear,
She is waiting always waiting,
and no longer will I roam
Dear old Mississippi Steamboat take me home


I can see the old plantation,
Fields of sugar cane and corn
I can picture Dad and Mother
And the place where I was born,
They are waiting, always waiting
and no longer will I roam,
Dear old Mississippi Steamboat take me home


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