Steamboat Illustrations, Page 27


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


Page 13 from an unknown month of the 1887 publication, AMERICAN AGRICULTURALIST

A NIGHT ON THE RIVER - "MISSOURI ROUSTABOUTS" - (See Editorial Correspondence).

Signed in lower left W.M. Cary (William de la Montagne Cary. 1840-1922) who probably also wrote the text that is referred to in the caption as appearing on the "Editorial Correspondence" page of this issue which was not included with this purchase. If I'm ever able to locate the commentary I will transcribe and send it along to expand this caption.

The "Rousters" are sleeping where ever they could on the main deck of a steamboat, probably on the Missouri River. The gent in the hammock appears to have the most comfortable bunk. The two horses and the covered wagon in the background add to the pictorial interest and depth of the picture.

Cary's scenes of the American West began appearing during the late 1860's in Harper's Weekly, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and periodicals like the American Agriculturalist. Cary based his drawings on his own first hand experiences Out West. I got the impression that he not only made the original drawings but also made the engravings that were published in the periodicals. In style his graphics are reminiscent of those made by True Williams who illustrated the first edition of Mark Twain's TOM SAWYER in 1876.


Attached composite of scans of Parker Brothers' 1960 Disneyland Riverboat board game. Board when open measures 14.60 inches square. In the cover illustration the boat has no name but it must have been based on the MARK TWAIN although the drawing is far from being an exact depiction of the boat. In the lower left corner is a sign "MARK TWAIN DOCK" on the roof of a building next to the wharf.

This version of the "Rivers of America" has an island in it but it differs from TOM SAWYER ISLAND. Vignette graphics depict things that are on the island such as Fort Wilderness and "Harper's Mill." Wild critters from both Frontierland and Adventureland have wandered into the territory along the river including a buffalo, rhino, deer, zebra, big horn sheep, bear, moose and an elephant. The Indian village and what looks like The Haunted Mansion (which didn't open to the public until 1969) are included along with the railroad whose tracks surrounded Disneyland.


"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.


Front and back cover of a menu circa the 1960'a from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Penn-Sheraton Hotel's Riverboat Room and Sidewheeler Bar. The artist based the waterfront commercial buildings on 1848 panoramic daguerreotypes taken of Cincinnati, Ohio riverfront.

Steamboat/Maritime references inside the menu include "Riverboat Casserole Specialties" and "Dine while STEAMIN' ROUND THE BEND." Bargain prices from the 20th Century: N.Y. SIRLOIN, Mushroom Cap $5.95 is the most expensive entre; RIVERBOAT ICE CREAM PIE 50 cents.


An ad for Mark Twain Showboats (cigars).


Counter display insert 7 x 9 inches for Mark Twain Showboats (cigars) "4 for 50 cents." Likely from the 1930's.

This profile of the steamboat appears to have been influenced by the Sacramento River style with the curved front pilot house and enclosed sternwheel. The twin 'stacks were likely derived from the remodeling done by Hollywood in the 1930's for films like STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND and SWANEE RIVER.

Sam Clemens "Mark Twain" was famous for his devotion to cigars and he claimed to have begun smoking them when he was still a boy in Hannibal, MO.

Attached composite I made in 2010 with a caricature of the boy Sam Clemens smoking a huge cigar and towing a toy steamboat with a string behind him. Quotations from Clemens regarding his adventures with tobacco are included.


Horst Lemke's watercolor of the "Graveyard" scene in a German edition of TOM SAWYER is brilliant.
Potter and Injun Joe were carrying a handbarrow with a rope and a couple of shovels on it. They cast down their load and began to open the grave. The doctor put the lantern at the head of the grave and came and sat down with his back against one of the elm trees. He was so close the boys could have touched him.

"Hurry, men!" he said, in a low voice; "the moon might come out at any moment."

They growled a response and went on digging. For some time there was no noise but the grating sound of the spades discharging their freight of mould and gravel. It was very monotonous. Finally a spade struck upon the coffin with a dull woody accent, and within another minute or two the men had hoisted it out on the ground. They pried off the lid with their shovels, got out the body and dumped it rudely on the ground. The moon drifted from behind the clouds and exposed the pallid face. The barrow was got ready and the corpse placed on it, covered with a blanket, and bound to its place with the rope. Potter took out a large spring-knife and cut off the dangling end of the rope and then said:

"Now the cussed thing's ready, Sawbones, and you'll just out with another five, or here she stays."

"That's the talk!" said Injun Joe.

"Look here, what does this mean?" said the doctor. "You required your pay in advance, and I've paid you."

"Yes, and you done more than that," said Injun Joe, approaching the doctor, who was now standing. "Five years ago you drove me away from your father's kitchen one night, when I come to ask for something to eat, and you said I warn't there for any good; and when I swore I'd get even with you if it took a hundred years, your father had me jailed for a vagrant. Did you think I'd forget? The Injun blood ain't in me for nothing. And now I've got you, and you got to settle, you know!"

He was threatening the doctor, with his fist in his face, by this time. The doctor struck out suddenly and stretched the ruffian on the ground. Potter dropped his knife, and exclaimed:

"Here, now, don't you hit my pard!" and the next moment he had grappled with the doctor and the two were struggling with might and main, trampling the grass and tearing the ground with their heels. Injun Joe sprang to his feet, his eyes flaming with passion, snatched up Potter's knife, and went creeping, catlike and stooping, round and round about the combatants, seeking an opportunity. All at once the doctor flung himself free, seized the heavy headboard of Williams' grave and felled Potter to the earth with it— and in the same instant the half-breed saw his chance and drove the knife to the hilt in the young man's breast. He reeled and fell partly upon Potter, flooding him with his blood, and in the same moment the clouds blotted out the dreadful spectacle and the two frightened boys went speeding away in the dark.

Presently, when the moon emerged again, Injun Joe was standing over the two forms, contemplating them. The doctor murmured inarticulately, gave a long gasp or two and was still. The half-breed muttered:

"That score is settled— damn you."

Then he robbed the body. After which he put the fatal knife in Potter's open right hand, and sat down on the dismantled coffin. Three — four— five minutes passed, and then Potter began to stir and moan. His hand closed upon the knife; he raised it, glanced at it, and let it fall, with a shudder. Then he sat up, pushing the body from him, and gazed at it, and then around him, confusedly. His eyes met Joe's.

"Lord, how is this, Joe?" he said.

"It's a dirty business," said Joe, without moving.

"What did you do it for?"

"I! I never done it!"

"Look here! That kind of talk won't wash."

Potter trembled and grew white.

"I thought I'd got sober. I'd no business to drink to-night. But it's in my head yet— worse'n when we started here. I'm all in a muddle; can't recollect anything of it, hardly. Tell me, Joe— honest, now, old feller— did I do it? Joe, I never meant to— 'pon my soul and honor, I never meant to, Joe. Tell me how it was, Joe. Oh, it's awful— and him so young and promising."

"Why, you two was scuffling, and he fetched you one with the headboard and you fell flat; and then up you come, all reeling and staggering like, and snatched the knife and jammed it into him, just as he fetched you another awful clip— and here you've laid, as dead as a wedge til now."

"Oh, I didn't know what I was a-doing. I wish I may die this minute if I did. It was all on account of the whiskey and the excitement, I reckon. I never used a weepon in my life before, Joe. I've fought, but never with weepons. They'll all say that. Joe, don't tell! Say you won't tell, Joe— that's a good feller. I always liked you, Joe, and stood up for you, too. Don't you remember? You won't tell, will you, Joe?" And the poor creature dropped on his knees before the stolid murderer, and clasped his appealing hands.

"No, you've always been fair and square with me, Muff Potter, and I won't go back on you. There, now, that's as fair as a man can say."

"Oh, Joe, you're an angel. I'll bless you for this the longest day I live." And Potter began to cry.

"Come, now, that's enough of that. This ain't any time for blubbering. You be off yonder way and I'll go this. Move, now, and don't leave any tracks behind you."

Potter started on a trot that quickly increased to a run. The half-breed stood looking after him. He muttered:

"If he's as much stunned with the lick and fuddled with the rum as he had the look of being, he won't think of the knife till he's gone so far he'll be afraid to come back after it to such a place by himself — chicken-heart!"

Two or three minutes later the murdered man, the blanketed corpse, the lidless coffin, and the open grave were under no inspection but the moon's. The stillness was complete again, too.


With the exception of images credited to certain institutions,
most of the images on this page are from a private collection.
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