Steamboat Illustrations, Page 9


Calendar art circa 1960's Walter Richards, Illustrator

13 x 16 1/2 inches

Text in lower margin:



Strolling band, entertainers, pretty girls—something for everyone when the showboat, belching smoke and promising gaiety, eased into the Mississippi River shore and lowered the gangplank. This would be a day to be enjoyed and long remembered.

1914 Chalmers "Six" Coupe.

As electric lighting and starting, and left hand controls came into general use, automobiles were easier and safer to drive at night and in bad weather. Closed cars like this powerful Chalmers Coupe became increasingly popular.


This is the cover of a 1947 spiral bound album compiled by Fred Way Jr. There were 5 albums in the Ships and Sailing series published by Kalmbach. The other 4 albums were devoted to sailing ships and passenger ships on the Great Lakes, ships of the U.S. Navy and New England Fishing Schooners

Fred's description of the photo on the cover:

The TOM GREENE operates as a combination general freight and automobile carrier between Cincinnati and Louisville. Daily service between these points has been maintained since 1831. This photograph was taken in 1923 when the packet was new and while she had her passenger cabin. In 1939 the staterooms were removed. This was next to the last packet built for operation on the Mississippi River system. She was named, appropriately, for Capt. Tom R. Greene, whose vision makes it possible today to take lengthy voyages along the inland waterways.

Photo by Capt. William S. Pollock.


Compiled by Captain Frederick Way Jr.

10.25 x 14 inches
19 pages
36 photographs with comprehensive descriptions by Fred Way

Kalmbach Publishing Co.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1947


For generations no Mississippi River steamboat was complete without a towering wooden superstructure surmounted with an elegant pilothouse, two stinking-hot smokestacks as alike as Gemini, a cursing Irish mate, a tuneful chime whistle, and a flashing paddle wheel at the stern wearing a beard of white foam. Vessels of this description were turned out by the thousands, ranging in size from the "short traders," with carrying capacities of but a ton or so, up to the mammoth cotton packets and coal-pusher towboats which accomplished Herculean feats unsurpassed in the history of transportation.

The stern-wheeler arrived as the ugly duckling of the rivers at the very beginnings of steam navigation on the Mississippi. The captains of the more swan-like side-wheelers scornfully dubbed them "wheelbarrow" boats. For 50 years they were in the minority. Those were the pre-railroad times when river boats were chiefly designed for speed and were hauling the passengers, the express, and the mail. Side-wheelers were the hot rods which chalked up all speed records accomplished on the Mississippi and its tributaries. Likewise, they exploded many boilers and roasted numerous humans in spectacular disasters. The stern-wheeler played second fiddle through those exciting times and did not arrive at importance until the character of inland river commerce took a shift.

Suddenly the scene changed. Inland United States was growing up, and Pittsburgh coal was in demand in New Orleans. Lumber from Minnesota and Wisconsin, grain from Illinois and Iowa, were needed southward. Railroads had sopped up the cream of passenger travel, the express, and the mail. The character of traffic on the rivers commenced to depend on economical transfer of heavy tonnage. Fortunately for rivermen, most of this traffic was headed down-river and could be floated to market assisted by the river's currents. In such manner the pioneer oil came down the Allegheny River from the wells of Pennsylvania, the coal from the mines of Pennsylvania, the timber from the forests of the St. Croix. The stern-wheeler was the ideal pushboat to handle such traffic, and its society was courted.

The stern-wheeler was the more economical type of vessel for Mississippi traffic from the start. Its lag may be attributed to early unwieldiness and its inability to maneuver with dexterity in the face of adverse winds and weather conditions. The arrival of steel boiler plate, and the consequent increase in steam pressures, gave the rear paddle wheel the "umph" it needed, and from then on it multiplied and eventually came near running the side-wheeler off the river. Stern-wheel river boats carried down the biggest rafts of timber, the greatest cargoes of coal, and the banner trips of cotton.

Again the scene changed. Nowadays the demands of river traffic accentuate vast movements of tonnage upstream against the currents. Texas sulphur is needed in Chicago, Louisiana oil is wanted in Pennsylvania and Minnesota, and, quixotical as it may seem, Kentucky coal is needed in the steel mills of Pittsburgh. The stern-wheeler was not designed for such service and fell far behind when such demands were made on it. In the past score years the diesel propeller-type workboat has been developed on the Mississippi and today outnumbers the stern-wheelers two to one. Significantly, no stern-wheeler has been built for river service in the past four years and, in the face of diesel competition, the older wooden ones are being sold at a dime a dozen.

This album is published at a fortunate moment. It captures the complete story of the stern-wheel river steamboat, a type of American vessel developed entirely within the United States with no borrowed ideas from abroad. These pages pay respect to Yankee ingenuity which overcame obstacles of a vast scale. The stern-wheel river boat never has been surpassed for shallow water downstream movement of tonnage, and its success is best attested by pointing out that designers and builders from Pittsburgh were called upon to duplicate such boats for the navigation of the Nile, Congo, Amazon, Yukon, Magdalena, Danube, and other waterways of the world. The stern-wheeler never failed its job. Like any highly specialized mechanical instrument, it served a special need, and now that the need has altered, its service is no longer required.


This album is compiled by Capt. Frederick Way Jr. of Sewickley, Pa., who needs no introduction anywhere along the Mississippi River system where the water is deep enough to float a john-boat. He has captained and piloted practically every type of vessel which ever poked its nose into a mud bank or ran over a fresh-water catfish. For six years he managed a fleet of packets between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati on the Ohio River. Today he works occasionally as a "trip pilot" but has taken time off to write of many of his experiences, and his books on river life are acclaimed and read by the rivermen themselves—an honor of no mean order. One of his books, "The Log of the BETSY ANN," was a Literary Guild selection, and another, "Pilotin' Comes Natural," was reprinted in an overseas edition. The Captain was nearly swamped with overseas mail from boys homesick for their rivers.

Captain-Author Way is also a photographer, and for the past 25 years he has collected pictures of Mississippi steamboats and made copy negatives of his finds. At present he owns somewhere around 4000 negatives. The pictures in this album have been selected from this wealth of material.

Captain Way publishes an annual "Inland River Record" which lists the current vessels in operation, their dimensions, owners, power, type, and—to the glee of many rivermen—frequent personal comments. Between times he sails an 18-foot skiff, powered by an outboard motor, and in 1946 he toured the Ohio, Tennessee, Warrior, Tombigbee, Mobile and Licking rivers, upset in the Gulf of Mexico, and arrived at New Orleans upside down. The little boat is the "LADY GRACE," named for his wife, who, says the Skipper, weathers a storm as well as a professional.


The cover of the 1974 paperback edition of Ben Lucien Burman's 1938 novel BLOW FOR A LANDING with a painted illustration by David Grove. Published by Ballantine as one of their "Mockingbird Books" (probably named in honor of Harper Lee's great 1960 "Southern Novel" TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD).

In the Introduction to this edition Burman wrote among other things:

"I love to hear the melodious whistling of the steamboat, the rhythmic chugging of the excursion boat, the steamy thunder of the showboat calliope."

The first letters of the boat's name suggest it was named PROVIDENCE. The artist may have been inspired by photos of the sidewheeler CITY OF PROVIDENCE, built at the Howard Ship Yards in 1880 and ice on the frozen Mississippi near St. Louis caused her to sink in 1910.


I made the attached a long time ago and Barbara Schmidt has it on twainquotes. It's a combination of a photo of the AMERICAN QUEEN's stacks and 3 chime whistle by Jon Kral from his photography book LIVE STEAM, 2000. The photo of Sam Clemens' face worked nicely manifested within the billowing steam.


Unfolded brochure circa 1957-59 promoting the RIVER QUEEN (formerly GORDON C. GREENE) while she was a tourist attraction floating in a basin filled with fresh water created by a coffer dam in order to keep her hull safe from the salt water in the Manatee River at Bradenton, FLA. When completely unfolded the brochure measures approx. 9 x 12 inches. The artist enlarged the pilot house considerably to make it more conspicuous on top of the Texas cabin. The stiff folks dressed in period costumes look a bit like "waxworks."

Belle of Alton Oval Vignette DeSaturated HALF size

Oval vignette detail derived from the sheet music cover (below).


Murphy Library's photo of the Belle of Alton for comparison to the sheet music cover (below).
Photo Courtesy of Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Steamboat Collection Photographs

This is one of the best of the reprints made by the Mississippi Lime Co. of Alton. Original sheet music would have been published circa late 1860's. After looking at the Murphy Library's photo of the boat it seems that either artistic license was taken by the draughtsman or the boat was remodeled at some point. The art work shows a "double decker" cabin without a Texas under the pilot house. It's doubtful but possible that the Texas could have been embellished later by encircling it with a promenade deck but the only photo shows the boat with the standard single cabin with Texas above.

Belle of Alton 1868-1873
Built 1868 by Howard Ship Yards, Jeffersonville, Indiana; home port St. Louis, Missouri
Her machinery came from SOUTHWESTER
Her machinery went to CARONDELET. Alton and St. Louis Packet Company, Captain John A. Bruner
Officers and Crew: In 1870 New Orleans-Grand Encore, J.P. McKinley (master), William A. Hurd (clerk), William W. Marsh (engineer)
Operated on the Mississippi, Ouachita and Black Rivers
Way's Packet Directory- 0511:
Burned at Algiers, Louisiana, laid up, March 28, 1871. Her engineer, William W. Marsh, was jailed in New Orleans charged with arson, later released on $6,000 bond. At trial he was honorably acquitted. Hull was used as a barge. Hull burned at Vicksburg, November 18, 1873.

recent acquisitions

recent acquisitions

Seymour Fleishman's sepia toned map of Tom Sawyer's town and a medium sized file of my colorized version of the map which took a lot of man hours to do but it was a fun way to pass the time.

recent acquisitions

Steamboat Landing attraction opens a year from now . . . see details and link below.
contact info:
Phone: (916) 775-1166
Email: steamboatacresorganic[at]frontier.net
Welcome to Steamboat Landing. Steamboat Landing was established sometime in the late 1800s or, at the latest, in the early 1900s.

It is located about 20 miles south of Sacramento on State Hwy 160 at the junction of the Sacramento River and the northern confluence of Steamboat Slough.

On the property is also a natural sandy beach and a guest boat dockage.

The concept for Steamboat Landing is of a country eatery/deli/bakery located in a country farm setting along the Sacramento River. The eatery will serve simple, but wonderful food to the local traffic and the traveling tourist trade by highways and waterways. The menu will include such items as rotisserie chicken, ribs and turkey. We will offer deli style foods such as meats, cheeses, sandwiches, soups, salads, breads and baked goods. Our baked goods will focus on pear products such as pies, breads, jams, jellies, chutneys, turnovers, fritters, etc. Pear ice cream and pear milk shakes, along with other favorite flavors will be offered. Beer and wine (some pear), soda, iced tea, other drinks and water will be served.

Steamboat Landing is located on the family farm known as Steamboat Acres. Steamboat Acres is in part being developed into an Agri-tourism venue to include:

• Farm to Table - Home Cooked Foods
• Pumpkin Patch
• Farm Tours
• Produce and Fruit Sales
• Picnic Areas
• Fishing Pond

The main activity area is the "Pear Park" which is about 24 acres directly adjacent to Steamboat Landing. The Pear Park will have many picnic areas and activity areas for the whole family.

steamboat tote bag


Attached is a scan of a detail of a steamboat from a magazine ad that I bought on eBay taken from an undated magazine, probably four or five decades old.

At first I thought Rice-Stix was some kind of snack food but turned out the company was a big St. Louis dry goods wholesaler.

I like this style of "idealized" illustration, much like an Iowa muralist who specialized in steamboats . . . don't recollect his name but Ed Garbert and I based our Hannibal, MO 1848 panorama on his post office mural style.

The following company history is quoted from: historyhappenedhere.org (offline?)

"Rice-Stix Inc. was a dry goods wholesaler that started in a small building on North Broadway and grew into one of the largest manufacturers and distributors in the country. Jonathan Rice, William Stix, and Benjamin Eiseman opened a small retail store in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1861. Other members of the families—Jonathan Rice, David Eiseman, and Elias Michael, a Stix son-in-law—joined the firm.

The yellow fever epidemic of 1878 spurred the company to move upriver to St. Louis the following year, where the store opened in a small building at 410 North Broadway and soon expanded along that thoroughfare. In 1889 the company moved to a newly completed structure, later known as the Merchandise Mart, and by 1907 Rice-Stix occupied the entire building on the block of 10th, 11th, St. Charles, and Washington.

In 1913 an annex was added a block south and in 1920 additional space was constructed. Rice-Stix had the largest space of any downtown St. Louis firm, plus warehouses and factories in outlying areas. By midcentury Rice-Stix offered some forty products and was one of the largest manufacturers of wearing apparel in the country, with imports from Ireland, China, Japan, and Europe. The firm included eighteen factories in the Midwest and six branches of traveling salesmen. In 1955 the families sold the company, and in 1957 it was moved to New York."


Attached is a circa 1950's "silk fabric" necktie using a classic photo of the Amy Hewes on Bayou Teche as the main point of interest. The designer added color, Spanish moss hanging from trees above and a photo of cotton bales piled up in the foreground.

The photo of the Amy Hewes also provided the inspiration for the January, 1934 cover of Motor Boating magazine in which the the artist changed the angle to more of an overhead point of view. We've got in our illustration gallery.

I first saw the necktie when visiting Keokuk and Bob Miller was wearing the tie at a Midwest Riverboat Buffs gathering aboard the Geo. M. Verity. For many years Bob and his son John were curators aboard the Verity.

Believe I finally found the tie quite a few years ago on eBay. I had it matted and framed.


A good photo of the boat depicted on the tie.

Amy Hewes
(Towboat, 1903-1949)
Built 1903 in Franklin, Louisiana
Retired in 1949

OWNERS: Jeanerette Lumber Company; Planters Lumber; Joseph A. Provost Lumber Company (1941); May Brothers (1942)
OFFICERS & CREW: Captain Dolph Cassidy (master, 1903-?); Captain John McCarty (master, 1920s)

Fred Way in his Towboat directory - T0127 described her as "A fine little towboat with pilothouse on the roof."

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


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.*