Steamboat Illustrations, Page 31


I bought this 18 x 24 inch poster in the DELTA QUEEN's gift shop in Sept '93 and over a span of days en route from Memphis to Cincinnati I took it around and requested folks employed on the boat to sign it for me. It's too clumsy to scan in pieces and reassemble so I photographed it instead and finessed it in Photoshop to enhance it a bit.



We have Captain Charles J.R. Peterson's photo in my collection but thought you'd also enjoy having his thank you note to Erba and Elizabeth Heckel of Riverside, CA.

The sisters sent him the photo one of them had taken of him in August, 1938 during their voyage on the DELTA QUEEN.

The Captain advised them not to take too seriously a news article written by then Chief of Naval Operations (Peterson refers to the office as "the Bureau of Navigation"). William Daniel Leahy took an enviable inspection tour of all boats that navigated on the Mississippi tributaries then wrote a "spoof" article about it. Will have to look for that, it sounds like it would be a "hoot." Surely Fred Way knew about it. I also have a letter from Elizabeth to Erba and one from the girls' mother to Erba, both of which were written aboard the DELTA QUEEN on the same stationery during a 1937 cruise.


Fleet Admiral William Daniel Leahy (May 6, 1875 - July 20, 1959) was an American naval officer who served as the senior-most United States military officer on active duty during World War II.

He held multiple titles and was at the center of all the major military decisions the United States made in World War II.

In 1933, Leahy came ashore in Washington as Chief of the Bureau of Navigation for two years.

He went to sea as a vice admiral, and Commander Battleships Battle Force. In 1936, he hoisted his four-star flag in California as Commander in Chief Battle Force.

He was appointed Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), took the oath of office in January 1937 to serve until August 1939 when he was placed on the retired list. On that occasion, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said "Bill, if we have a war, you're going to be right back here helping me run it."

As Chief of Naval Operations from 1937 to 1939, he was the senior officer in the Navy, overseeing the preparations for war.

After retiring from the Navy, he was appointed in 1939 by his close friend President Roosevelt as Governor of Puerto Rico. In his most controversial role, he served as the United States Ambassador to France 1940-42, but had limited success in keeping the Vichy government free of German control.

Transcript of Peterson's hand written letter:

Sept. 18 - (19)38 [ON BOARD] Delta Queen

Misses Erba & Elizabeth Heckel Dear Friends

I have just received your letter, pictures & clipping. I appreciate them all very much and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for them. The pictures are very clear which speaks well for a good camera.

The clipping is the creation of a joke by Capt. Leahy of the Bureau of Navigation, Washington D.C. when he was on an inspection tour of all vessels on the Mississippi river and its tributaries, there is no serious thought connected with it.


Just as I was sitting here writing this letter to you a crowd of 350 people came aboard the Delta Queen at Sacramento from the Western Pacific Rail Road depot to see the boat. I took them around and showed them everything and they all seem to enjoy it. We are still carrying big crowds and the weather is ideal for traveling. The boat is sold out tonight and what a noisy crowd they will be.

Hoping this finds you well and happy.

I am truly yours
Chas. J.R. Peterson
528 Grove St S.F.
or str. Delta Queen Pier 3.


MARK TWAIN cigar (band) from a dealer in Toledo, Spain

Dominican cigar bands, Vitolas, Centro-Americanas "MARK TWAIN" (Escritor)


The racer ROB'T E. LEE in a celebratory black and white lithograph published after her 1870 win over the NATCHEZ at the conclusion of their famous race.

Way's Packet Directory Number 4777 gives a colorful and detailed account of the race, New Orleans to St. Louis, June 30 to July 4, 1870. The ROB'T E. LEE Lee made the trip in 3 days, 18 hours, and 14 minutes, the all-time record for a commercial steamboat. Other trips included New Orleans to Cairo, 3 days, one hour, one minute, and New Orleans to Natchez, 17 hours, 11 minutes, both in 1870. On December 22, 1870 she collided with the Potomac opposite Natchez, Mississippi. The Lee sustained much damage and was run out on a sandbar until she could be raised and repaired. She brought her record cotton cargo of 5741 bales to New Orleans in 1874. When she left New Orleans for Portland, Kentucky, for dismantling, mid-April, 1876, several thousand came to see her off, with many salutes en route to mark the closing of her career. Her hull was taken to Memphis for use as a wharf boat. Much of her equipment went into her successor, also known as the ROB'T E. LEE. La Crosse Steamboats Neg. 44084.

The ROB'T E. LEE deserves to have her own page one of these days.


Travel poster circa mid '50's to mid '60's with graphic of a sidewheeler NATCHEZ.

Prints available in various sizes from www.AllPosters.com

"New Orleans-Steamboat Natchez Mississippi River Paddlewheeler - Illinois Central Railroad"

Item # : 13090704

LIFE_December 22, 1958_WhenJazzWasYoungArmstrongAndBeiderbeckeForNORI


"Fine Art" painting as illustrations by Morton Roberts This is the second to the last piece of artwork: Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke on the New Orleans levee in 1920.

Morton Roberts obviously referred to the Keystone stereoview Number 119 "Cotton! Cotton! Cotton! Levee, New Orleans, Louisiana" of the roustabouts resting on cotton bales while they waited for their next assignment of heavy lifting. Roberts got his steamboat reference from another photo or photos. Maybe I'll come across the source one of these days and add it to this demonstration.

LIFE Magazine
December 22, 1958
Special 2 in 1 Holiday Issue

Beginning on page 64

When Jazz Was Young:

Eleven paintings by Morton Roberts and vivid recollections of old time musicians evoke days when America's own art form was born in New Orleans and rode north of the river.

The caption for the attached painting was a quotation from Louis Armstrong regarding the young Bix Beiderbecke. At the time both musicians played cornets. It wasn't until the mid-1920's that "Satchmo" Armstrong switched to a trumpet.

"I had my first job with Fate Marable's band" (beginning in September, 1918 on one of the Streckfus steamers that conducted excursions around the harbor of New Orleans).

"In 1920 I was 19 and Bix was 16. He just sit there on the levee and listen to me blow and then go home and go to work. Listen, I mean work. I told him just to play and he'd please the cats but you take a genius and he's never satisfied. Later on we'd meet when we played the same town. After we closed the door on the cats we'd get together and have a ball. If that boy had lived, he'd be the greatest." Bix passed on in 1931 at age 28.


William E. L. Bunn (1910-2009) was a designer, muralist, and painter in Ft. Madison, Iowa and Ojai, California. Bunn was born in Muscatine, Iowa and received his B.A. in Graphic and Plastic Arts and an M.A. in Theater Design, both from the University of Iowa.

In 1937 he was awarded a one-year post-graduate fellowship as an art intern for Grant Wood.

From 1938 to 1942 he won four commissions from the Treasury Department to produce murals for Federal buildings.

He also exhibited paintings, primarily depicting Mississippi River steamboats, at the National Academy of Design, Art Institute of Chicago, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and other group shows.

Beginning in 1943 Bunn worked as an industrial designer at several companies including Sheaffer Pen Company (1946-1967) and Cuckler Steele Span Company (1967-1977).

After his retirement, he and his wife, Annavene, moved to California, and he continued to paint. Bunn was also active in the Theosophical Society and had an interest in aviation.

LIFE magazine featured two photos of William Bunn (one is included above) and his majestic steamboat paintings the October 14, 1940 issue. Below is the text from that "Art" feature. The mural entitled MISSISSIPPI PACKETS was a work in progress (J.M. WHITE at center) behind Bunn at his studio in Iowa City, Iowa in the photograph and it was installed in 1940 in the U.S. post office in Hickman, Kentucky. The completed work is in the lower left. A mural of a head-on view of the steamboat DUBUQUE painted in 1936 is in the U.S. post office at Dubuque, Iowa. In the LIFE issue there are three color images of Bunn's paintings, two of those are presented on the right. A "study" drawing of the high angle view of the DUBUQUE (in color on the right) can be seen behind Bill's left leg in the photo.

LIFE magazine 14 October, 1940


"When I was a youngster," says Painter William Bunn who grew up in Muscatine, Iowa, "my buddies and I always headed for the river after school. We would row across to the Illinois shore or out to Towhead Island where Mark Twain used to play as a boy. We absorbed all the sights and smells and sounds of the Mississippi it was the one great dominating influence of my life."

This river influence had made Bill Bunn at 30 a specialist in painting old time Mississippi steamboats. His murals are to be installed in Iowa and Kentucky, and next year he will hold his first one-man show in New York City.

Bunn's boats evoke a vanished era in American life when the great floating palaces set a standard for elegance. They served the finest Southern cooking. At night as the dark shores slipped by, their decks were aglow with lanterns and passengers danced to banjos. In the sunlight they glistened like wedding cakes with their gilded gingerbread. Almost every trip brought adventure. There were gamblers aboard. Courtships flourished in the long lazy days. Rich planters, who were given free trips as a bonus for their shipments, sometimes took their wives, sometimes did not. Once in a while one of the boats exploded and burst into flame. At the end of the run, gay as a foreign capital, was New Orleans.

With a historian's zeal, Bill Bunn reconstructs his steamboats from old drawings and photographs or from boat-builders' original plans. He paints them in a clean, ship-shape style that shows his five years of study with Grant Wood in Iowa City. This month Bunn and his 19-year-old wife will sail their own boat from Lake Itasca, where the Mississippi begins, 2,500 miles down to New Orleans. If they run out of money, Bunn says he will do portrait sketches on the way or set up his portable Punch and Judy show and perform for youngsters along the river front.


Dust jacket illustration painted by Paul Laune for the 1965 Harper Perennial Classic edition of ADVENTURES of HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Sam Clemens. The boat floating above Huck's hat brim was likely inspired by Dean Cornwell's 1953 painting of the Fred Way's BETSY ANN entitled KENTUCKY RIVER BOAT that was included in a promotional ad for Early Times Brand Kentucky Bourbon.

In the middle ground is "the Duke of 'Bilgewater' (Bridgewater)" a Mississippi River con man posing as a British nobleman. In the right foreground harassing Huck is an older con man posing as "the King of France." In the novel Clemens describes the King as being bald and with a long white beard. Paul Laune has depicted the King as if he was being portrayed by the actor Ed Begley (Senior).

This painting is probably illustrating this excerpts from the end of Chapter 29 and the beginning of Chapter 30 in which Huck and the runaway slave Jim are fleeing on the raft from the "king and the duke":

. . . in two seconds away we went a-sliding down the river, and it did seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river, and nobody to bother us. I had to skip around a bit, and jump up and crack my heels a few times—I couldn't help it; but about the third crack I noticed a sound that I knowed mighty well, and held my breath and listened and waited; and sure enough, when the next flash busted out over the water, here they come! —and just a-laying to their oars and making their skiff hum! It was the king and the duke. So I wilted right down on to the planks then, and give up; and it was all I could do to keep from crying. When they got aboard the king went for me, and shook me by the collar, and says: "Tryin' to give us the slip, was ye, you pup! Tired of our company, hey?" I says: "No, your majesty, we warn't—please don't, your majesty!" "Quick, then, and tell us what was your idea, or I'll shake the insides out o' you!" "Honest, I'll tell you everything just as it happened, your majesty. . ."


Paul Sidney Laune (1899 in Woodward, Oklahoma - 1977) was an author, painter and illustrator, known for his book covers and for paintings he did of rural Western U.S. pioneer scenes. He covered pioneers, ranch-life, quarter horses in his paintings. He painted five murals for the Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum in his hometown of Woodward, Oklahoma. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, Laune worked as an illustrator and art critic in New York. He also lived in Phoenix, Arizona, where he drew quarter horses and wrote a book on them. Among the more famous works he illustrated, were books in the Hardy Boys Mystery Series Wikipedia


Streckfus Steamers issued this pin 1.20 inches in diameter that was probably intended to be given to honored guests who visited the pilot house of the PRESIDENT and were privileged to "steer" for a while under close supervision.


Way's Packet Directory Number 4578

Sidewheel Excursion boat
Built in1924 at Midland, Pennsylvania (hull)
Formerly the CINCINNATI

Owned by Streckfus Steamers, Captain Verne Streckfus (master) [1933] New Orleans Steamboat Company [1981]

After being sold to Streckfus Steamers, she received an entire new superstructure and came out on July 4, 1934 as the best excursion boat on the rivers. She could carry 3,100 passengers. In 1944, after she became the full-time excursion boat in New Orleans, her guards were glass-enclosed. In 1978 she was converted to diesel.

After serving as a casino boat at Davenport during the 1990's she was retired and replaced. The party who bought the PRESIDENT planned to turn her into a hotel so she was dismantled and the pieces taken far from the river to a location near St. Elmo, Illinois where she sat for two years unassembled until the pieces were moved to Altamont, Illinois where the parts began to disintegrate. Finally the parts were sold as scrap. Bill Wundram in the June 29, 2015 edition of the Quad City Times wrote an informative biography of the PRESIDENT that told her story on up to her inglorious finale. Here is the link to the online version of Bill's article: qctimes.com


The engraving on this page in an 1858 edition of the Illustrated London News was hand colored by someone, probably in the 1970's.

June 5th, 1858

NEW ORLEANS stands on the left bank of the Mississippi, about a hundred miles from its mouths, on a crescent-like bend of the river, whence its name of the "Crescent City."

By means of continual deposits of the vast quantities of mud and sand which it holds in solution, and brings down from the great wilderness of the Far West, the Mississippi has raised its bed to a considerable height above the level of the surrounding country, and is embanked for hundreds of miles by earthen mounds or dykes, of six or eight feet in height, called Levees. This name was originally given by the French, and is still retained by the dwellers on the banks of the Mississippi and Ohio. A Levee of this kind protects New Orleans.

The following description of the Levee at New Orleans is taken, from the letter of our Correspondent describing that city which appeared in the number of this Journal for the 10th ult.:

"The outdoor life of New Orleans is seen to greatest advantage on the Levee. The river can scarcely be seen for the crowd of steamboats and of shipping that stretch along the Levee for miles; and the Levee itself is covered with bales of cotton and other produce, which hundreds of negroes, singing at their work, with here and there an Irishman among them, are busily engaged in rolling from the steamers and depositing in the places set apart for each consignee. These places are distinguished one from the other by the little flags stuck upon them—flags of all colors and mixtures of colors and patterns ; and here the goods remain in the open air, unprotected, until it pleases the consignees to remove them. New Orleans would seem fit at first glance to overflow with wealth to such an extent as to have no room for storage. The street pavements actually do service for warehouses, and are cumbered with barrels of salt, corn, flour, pork, and molasses and bales of cotton, to such an extent as to impede the traffic, and justify the belief that the police must either be very numerous and efficient, or the population very honestly disposed. The docks of Liverpool are busy enough, but there is no bustle, no life, no animation, at Liverpool at all equal to those which may be seen at the Levee in the "Crescent City." The fine open space, the clear atmosphere, the joyousness and alacrity of the negroes, the countless throngs of people, the forests of funnels and masts, the plethora of cotton and corn, the roar of arriving and departing steamboats, and the deeper and more constant roar of the multitude, all combine to impress the imagination, with visions of wealth, power, and dominion, and to make the Levee as attractive to the philosopher as it must be to the merchant and man of business."


An unusual engraving from an unknown French publication of the steamboat INGOMAR, probably dating from between 1854 and 1862 when the boat was in service. The engraver based this on a drawing by Louis LeBreton who traveled the world in sailing ships as a French Naval surgeon and artist. (A summary of his career can be found below). The details of the stern and starboard of the boat are consistent with steamboats as we know them, but the stacks are considerably larger in diameter than the ones on boats that plied the rivers at that time, the stacks in the engraving look like they belong on an ocean-going vessel. The squat structure with a peaked room at the far end of the hurricane roof may represent the pilot house but it is only a fraction of the size of the ones on riverboats that we are familiar with. The engraver may have misinterpreted LeBreton's drawing and consequently improvised much of what would have been on the hurricane roof of the actual INGOMAR.

Here is an approximate translation of the French caption under the engraving:

"Paul recognized that it was time to board the boat when the smokestacks began to produce clouds of black smoke."

Sidewheel packet boat

Way's Packet Directory Number 2759

Built for the Memphis & New Orleans Packet Co. at Louisville, Kentucky in 1854.

730 tons. 275 x 40 x 7.5. Engines, 28's- 7 ft.

In 1855, Capt. L. McDonough was in command with H.R. McLauglin, clerk;

in 1857-1858 Capt. Burdett Paras was in command.

In 1860-1861, Capt. Joe D. Clarke was in command.

Capt. Clarke joined up with the Confederates in 1861 and survived the Civil War unscathed when it ended in 1865.

The INGOMAR was dismantled at New Orleans 1862 and her engines went to the Confederate gunboat LOUISIANA.


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