Steamboat Illustrations, Page 4



Here is an extraordinary painting by artist Robert Hagemann which was published in black in white in an issue of the S&D Reflector. I wrote to Bob back in the 80's and he kindly sent me a color slide of the painting from which this print was made. Bob also sent some beautiful black and white prints made from his expert pen and ink drawings of a number of classic steamboats. Bob's style is classical in the tradition of European masters and also evocative of John James Audubon who was born into a French Colonial family in Santa Domingo which is now Haiti in 1785. Audubon's paintings of birds and mammals often included landscapes in the background in a style similar to Bob Hagemann's.

The JACOB STRADER was out of the ordinary in style with a cylindrical-shaped pilot house and smokestacks aft of the pilot house instead of ahead of it. Also the front of the boiler deck enclosed with formal windows was unusual and anticipated how the CAPE GIRARDEAU's boiler deck would be entirely glazed in during her dozen year reign beginning in 1923 and and ending in 1935 when she became the GORDON C. GREENE. When the 1914 vintage IDLEWILD became the AVALON in 1948 she was given a similar window treatment in a less formal style. Attached plumbed, cropped and resized photo of the STRADER from the La Crosse collection which proves that her rather fantastical appearance was accurately depicted by Bob.

JACOB STRADER (1853-1866)
Sidewheel Packet
Way's Packet Directory Number 2915

Built 1853 at Cincinnati, Ohio which was also her first home port.

Owned by the U.S. Mail Line Company
She ran Cincinnati-Louisville, entering the trade on June 7, 1853.

Captain John Blair Summons (master); Captain Charles Dittman (master, pilot); Captain David Whitten (master) Ohio; Tennessee; Kanawha and Mississippi rivers

The STRADER had "low pressure" machinery and advertised as such to assuage the fears of those who were leery of the high pressure engines of those days. During the early part of the Civil War she was often used to convey wounded and sick soldiers as her cabin was 306 feet long with 310 available berths.

She was dismantled at Madison, Indiana in July 1866 and her machinery went into the construction of the steamer RICHMOND.


Attached a painting of Stephen Foster by Walter Richards commissioned by the Magnavox corporation back in the '50's for a series of prints dedicated to great composers, mostly classical musicians of Europe and Russia.

We originally paired this with graphics from a greeting card in which little "colored" boys replicated the poses and costumes of the adult African Americans. An excerpt from "bobjanuary.com" about Foster's early career makes a perfect caption for the painting of Foster on the Cincinnati wharf while he enjoys the folk singing of some off duty roustabouts in 1847.


The Early Years in Stephen Foster's Career As A Composer
* * *
In 1846 Stephen Foster went to Cincinnati to work for his brother Dunning, as a bookkeeper of the firm of Irwin & Foster. This position he held only two years, being very unhappy in this work. The Irwin & Foster firm was located at No. 4 Cassilly's Row (presumably the sixth building from the left) later known as "Old Rat Row." There is a pleasing traditional story that on a dreary afternoon in March, 1847, Stephen Foster, perched on a high stool in the office of Irwin & Foster, added a column of figures, closed the ledger and began to hum a tune and write these words (paraphrased to make them more "politically correct":

"No use talkin' when they want to go where thee corn-tops blossom and de cane-brake grow;

Then come along to Cuba and we'll dance the polka-juba, way down South, where the corn grows."

Mr. Irwin, head of the firm, smiled at Dunning Foster and said: "Stevie's writing another song." Dunning replied, "I'm afraid my little brother will never make a business man." This is the song which was submitted by Stephen Foster at a prize contest for minstrel songs. It did not win the prize. As a practical bookkeeper, Stephen Foster was a success; his books were models of neatness and accuracy. In his heart he was a glorious failure. Glorious, to the extent that it caused him to turn to the one thing he longed to do. Uncle Ned and Oh Susanna were written during Foster's musical bookkeeping days in Cincinnati, and although the latter was not so successful in those days, he has been quoted as saying: "Imagine my delight on receiving $100 for Oh Susanna."


Just arrived today: a novel copyrighted 1927 & '28 by Doubleday (it may have been serialized in a magazine) in '27 and printed as book in '28) about steamboating in the 1850's. The dust jacket is a bit worn so I restored it a bit in the attached file. I already had an undated reprint of this novel which with the strange title 'RIVERMEN DIE BROKE' which led me to search online for the hardcover edition of the original publication. The artist Frederick Blakeslee (1898 - 1973) who designed the dust jacket in the style of a poster but his specialty was more realistic illustrations of "Flying Aces" in World War I "dog fights" (aerial combat).

Old Father of Waters

A Vivid Novel of the Mississippi

Author of "Painted Ponies"

"Old Father of Waters" is a tale of the old, wild days on the lower Mississippi in 1858. Captain Arnold Huston is the central figure of the variegated throng of river-men, planters and merchants who march through the pages of the book. First with his boat the "Peter Swain" and later with the "Arnold Huston" Captain Huston opposes the force of the voracious stream. Duels, disaster, fire and flood play their parts in the story, through which runs a vein of mystery that comes to a crisis in a race of two rival steamers for a supreme stake.

Drawing on the actual history of the times, Mr. LeMay has written a powerful novel that carries the reader back to the picturesque days of old New Orleans.

A. L. BURT COMPANY Publishers - New York - 1928

RAILROAD March 49 Hannibal St JoWhiteMargins

This is a scan of the cover of the March 1949 issue of RAILROAD MAGAZINE by Frederick Blakeslee (same artist who created the dust jacket for OLD FATHER OF WATERS).

The cover art was entitled "First Run on the Old 'St. Joe' (Burlington)," so I gather the scene is intended to represent the shore of the Mississippi River at Burlington, Iowa. This same issue of RAILROAD MAGAZINE contains an article called "Burlington Route 1849 - 1949 A Photo Story," pages 12 to 43.

The very first mail car ever built was constructed in Hannibal, Missouri for the HANNIBAL & ST. JOSEPH RAILROAD in 1862. (Note the name of that railroad is on the mail car).

The name of the steamboat at the landing appears to begins with "SILVER" but the rest of the name is indecipherable. Two possible candidates for what Blakeslee intended as the name of the boat are SILVER LAKE which operated during the 1860's and SILVER MOON which operated from the 1850's to 1869.


Nice cover for this juvenile fiction book. Jonathan Dale on the dust jacket looks uncannily like Michael Jackson. The Jonathan is performing on the stage of the showboat JAMBALAYA.

THE BANJO PLAYER by Elizabeth Starr Hill dust jacket art copyright 1993 by Dennis Nolan

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993 In a prequel to Street Dancers and Broadway Chances, Hill goes back to Clement Dale's grandfather, Jonathan, on a journey from New York to New Orleans and beyond. At 12, Jonathan Dale leaves the city streets where he's gotten along on his own for years, performing for passers-by. In 1887, he boards the Orphan Train, hoping to be selected from the line of ragged homeless children for adoption. Chosen by a hardscrabble Louisiana tenant family, Jonathan struggles to fit in and to please his new parents but remains emotionally detached from them and new sister Eugenie (also from the Orphan Train). Jonathan needs people, music, and the chance to perform; the silent hours of grueling farm labor drain him. After exchanging situations with another orphan, he moves to New Orleans, then to a touring showboat, where he's encouraged to perform once again. Hill's prose is sure and vivid. Though Jonathan's aloofness is somewhat distancing, the story hums with well-drawn characters and quiet humor, ably bringing history to life. (Fiction. 10-14)
Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-670-84967-7
Review Posted Online: May 20th, 2010


Finessed scan of a book cover painted by the authoress Madye Lee Chastain who also drew a sizable number of pen and ink illustrations inside the book as well. STEAMBOAT SOUTH

By Madye Lee Chastain
Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 1951
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Kirkus' Review
Another dainty, starched story for little girls by the author of "Loblolly Farm" with a sizeable amount of period charm. Amy Travis could hardly believe that she was to go by steamboat all by herself from Ohio to Texas, but her only relatives, Aunt Agnes and Uncle Will, had saved enough money for her steamboat fare, and she was thrilled to be taking the wonderful journey and becoming a part of a real family. There were gay and exciting goings-on on the steamboat with the explosive Beazies, a family for whom Amy worked as part-time nursemaid, kind Mrs. Binkle, under whose protection Amy was allowed to see the dancing, and good times aboard ship, two lovely French girls, a kind itinerant painter and others. A story of kind friends and gentle people and ladylike excitement with a realistic glimpse of the days just preceding the Civil War.


Calendar art, looks like circa late 40's, early '50's. It was captioned "Steamboat Round the Bend," size 6 X 10 1/4 inches. Ohio River setting apparently judging from the distant hills.

Nice painting technique, the artist was a practiced hand at controlling the medium. If compare to the photo of the City of Pittsburg (Neg. 10325, see below) at the Murphy site you will see see the many liberties the painter took while idealizing & romanticizing the boat, altering its style and many details.

C of P had a brief life span, only 4 years.

Built 1899 at Harmar, Ohio at Knox Yard
Burned at 4 a.m. on Sunday, April 20, 1902 along the Kentucky shore of the Ohio River in the Grand Chain, not far above Dam 53

Officers & crew: Captain John M. Phillips (commanding officer, 1899; master, 1902); Dana Scott (purser, 1899); James Rawley (pilot, 1899); Ed McLaughlin (pilot, 1899); Art Shriver (mate, 1902); Clayton Crawford (engineer, 1902); Harry Doss (pilot, 1902); Captain Wes Doss (senior pilot, 1902); Tom Smith (cub pilot, 1902) Ohio and Mississippi Rivers

Way Packet Directory- 1122; Much of her equipment was from the former City of New Orleans. Her first trip was a round trip Pittsburgh-New Orleans, after which she was entered in the Pittsburgh-Louisville trade 1899 and spring of 1900. Ran Cincinnati-Louisville briefly, then was entered in the Cincinnati-Memphis trade. When she burned in 1902, over 60 lives were lost including Captain Sylvester Doss, pilot and Tom Smith, cub pilot

Here's a photo of the real boat from the UW La Crosse Historic Steamboat Photographs


City of Pittsburgh. Photo Courtesy of Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Steamboat Collection Photographs

WESTERN Romances July 1958 steamboat OneThird

Some corny kitsch from 1958 . . . cover of the July issue of the pulp periodical WESTERN ROMANCES.

The cover painting of the brawny cowboy holding the "young filly" wearing modern "pumps" instead of the high button shoes which would have been worn in the Old West does not seem to illustrate any of the stories in this particular issue.

Immigrants who have just disembarked from the steamboat, perhaps somewhere along the Missouri River, must hope to establish homesteads on the frontier.

The cover served as part of the depiction of the nostalgic fantasy of Western life as a young girl of the 1950's girl would have imagined it to be, consistent with the genre of the short stories.

StobartCityOfKnoxvilleColor Adjusted by Lewis VerduynHALFsizeEXP

John Stobart's 2002 painting of KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE entitled "The 'City of Knoxville' arriving from Chattanooga in 1891"

The image area seen here is 18 x 28 1/2 inches.

Fred Way's Packet Directory lists 3 sternwheel steamboats who were named City of Knoxville, but no steamboat named City of Knoxville operating in 1891.

The first C of K's dates were 1854 to 1858; the second boat's dates were from 1875 to 1883; and the third boat's dates were from 1896 to 1901

Perhaps there was a 4th boat by that name that did operate in 1891 that is not listed in Way's Directory.

The J. Russell Jinishian Gallery, Inc. of Fairfield, Connecticut has the original painting listed at $250,000 jrusselljinishiangallery.com


Steamboat pilot house illustration for a story in the pulp magazine MAMMOTH ADVENTURE, May 1947. Sunken steamer in the distance on the river behind the pilot at the wheel.


Detail from a print of the painting NEW ORLEANS by ROY CROSS copyrighted in the United Kingdom by Felix Rosentiel's Widow & Sons Limited 1993. The steamboat PACIFIC (1857-1860) predominates in the right two thirds of the painting.


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.*