Illustrations - Bird's Eye Views


Attached is a detail of sternwheeler and sidewheeler from the lower right quadrant of an 1885 Currier & Ives "Bird's Eye View" lithograph of New Orleans. Looks like the graphic started out as a drawing rendered with charcoal pencil and then color added later during the lithographic process.


Bird's Eye Glassport, Pennsylvania on the Monongahela River

Bird's Eye detail of Glassport, Pennsylvania on the Monongahela River in 1902
Steamer FRANCIS J. TORRANCE on the right.

Sidewheel Excursion boat

Way's Packet Directory Number 2118

Built in Marietta, Ohio at the Knox Yard, 1900 for the Monongahela and Ohio River Transportation Company, with about sixty stockholders and F. J. Torrance president. She ran excursions on the upper Ohio and Monongahela Rivers.
Captain R. M. Boyd was first master, with Aaron McLaughlin, pilot.
She was sold November 1905 to the Coney Island Company, Cincinnati, Ohio; Lee H. Brooks was president.


Bird's Eye of Atchison, Kansas with great drawing of the H.S. TURNER

Detail from a bird's eye view of the city of Atchison, Kansas on the Missouri River in 1869 that was created by Albert Ruger and published by the Merchants Lithographing Co. of Chicago, Illinois.

Albert Ruger (1828 - 1899) was active and lived in Ohio, Germany and the Russian Federation. Ruger is best known for his bird's-eye town views. Many of them were of towns and cities on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers

I have viewed many of Albert Ruger's rivertown "bird's eye maps" and am of course always especially interested in his steamboats.

This detail of the drawing of the H.S. TURNER by Ruger in his Atchison, Kansas bird's eye view has an almost 20th century illustration style to it. This is the absolute best that I've seen so far of the boats that Ruger drew. Some of the others look like they were done in great haste to meet a deadline but this one is his most aesthetically pleasing depiction of a steamboat.

Donald McKay, the artist who illustrated Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and a juvenile biography of Mark Twain among other books that included steamboats, may have derived his way of drawing them in part from drawings like these which is very reminiscent of McKay's work.

Way's Packet Directory Number 2505


Sidewheel packet

Built in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1866

763 tons. Ran in the St. Louis & Omaha Packet Co., Capt. James A. Yore, 1867.

In 1869 ran New Orleans-Bayou Sara twice weekly, Capt. V.B. Baranco, with Allen Jumel, clerk.

Sank at Island 16, Mississippi River, on the night of January 6,1871, Capt. W. J. Rusk.

Captain Rusk observed that this was the seventh boat he'd been on which came to grief and ticked them off on his fingers:

NANNIE BYERS, CREOLE, WESTMORELAND, W.R. ARTHUR, ST. CLOUD, SUNNY SOUTH, and now the H. S. TURNER; several burned. However in two weeks he had the TURNER afloat. He was still running her to New Orleans in 1873.

In 1875 she was a regular Cincinnati-Evansville packet, Capt. W.C. Tichenor, with W. R. Shaw, clerk. On May 7,1876, was at Pittsburgh taking a full load to St. Louis, towing alongside a barge also laden, Capt. Henry U. Hart.

The TURNER was dismantled at Cincinnati, 1877.


LOUISVILLE by Ruger 1876 detail of MARY HOUSTON

Another Ruger item for "Details of steamboats from Bird's Eye Views"

LOUISVILLE 1876 detail of MARY HOUSTON in 1876, the year before she was dismantled according to Fred Way (below)

Bird's eye view of Louisville, Kentucky 1876 by Albert Ruger Charles Shober & Co. & Chicago Lithographing Co.

All of these Bird's eye views are in the Library of Congress digital collection

Way's Packet Directory

Number 3817


Sidewheel Packet Boat

Built at Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1868. 255 x 39 x 7. Engines, 221/2 's- 7 ft. Five boilers.

Built for Capt. L. B. Dunham and others, and ran Louisville-New Orleans.

In 1870 her clerks were H.H. Walker and Len P. Seabrook.

Through tickets were offered New Orleans passengers via Iron Mountain Railroad to St. Louis.

She was at New Orleans for the start of the famed race ROB'T. E. LEE & NATCHEZ in 1870.

Dismantled 1877 and much of her equipment went to building the NEW MARY HOUSTON.

The hull served as a wharf-boat at Monroe, Louisiana and sank there Sept. 2, 1880.


Detail of bird's eye view of Memphis in 1870.


Unidentified boats in Memphis.


Link and screen capture from a Western adventure computer game which includes a steamboat called SILVER STEAM. This "bird's eye" view of the boat at a landing at night looks pretty accurate except that instead of swinging stages suspended above the bow there are inexplicably heavy wooden posts stuck into "hawsepipes" in the hull below the deck. In another view of this graphic in the preview video there is a cutaway showing the central cabin and a portside stateroom. Look forward to seeing the next museum update sometime before January 1st 2015.

The game can be purchased and downloaded from this link:

Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive
Action, Strategy Gamer
Released: Nov 20, 2013
Developer: Spellbound
Publisher: Nordic Games

"Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive" is the first strategy game ever to combine a movie-based and story-driven atmosphere of an adventure game with the intellectual challenge of a real time tactic game. Western setting El Paso, Texas and vicinity.

recent acquisitions

Nice bird's eye view painting of the QUEEN CITY on the the front of the dust jacket for the1943 Farrar & Rinehart edition of Fred Ways' PILOTIN' COMES NATURAL.


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
Please contact for permission for commercial use.*