Book Illustrations, Page 1

Belle Creole

The MUSIC and the BELLE CREOLE at New Orleans circa 1845-49 by unknown artist. Collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

There is no pilot house visible on the steamboat far right. The artist may have been prevented from completing the painting for some reason.


The Young Pilot of the Belle Creold 1850 Southern Lady's novel

Caroline Lee Whiting Hentz (June 1, 1800, Lancaster, Massachusetts - February 11, 1856, Marianna, Florida) was an American novelist and (categorized as "an author of sentimental fiction") was best known for her opposition to the abolitionist movement. Her widely read The Planter's Northern Bride, a rebuttal to Harriet Beecher Stowe's popular anti-slavery book, Uncle Tom's Cabin.

The MUSIC and the BELLE CREOLE at New Orleans circa 1845-49 by unknown artist. Collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

There is no pilot house visible on the steamboat far right. The artist may have been prevented from completing the painting for some reason.

Sidewheel packet boat

Way's Packet Directory Number 0491

Built in 1845 at Cincinnati, Ohio. 447 tons
Ran New Orleans-Bends 1846. Captain Champromere.
Burst a steam line on 16 November, 1849 near New orleand, 5 were killed.
In New Orleans-Vicksburg trade in 1850. Captain J.M. White. Was off the lists in 1852.

Way lists 2 sidewheelers named MUSIC, both built at Jeffersonville for Captain Ferdinand Schreck of Donaldsville, Louisiana and operated during the same period as the BELLE CREOLE.

The first MUSIC was built in 1843 for Captain Schreck sold the boat in March 1847 to Captain Celestin Dalferes of Assumption Parish, Louisiana. This first MUSIC was off the lists in 1849.

The second MUSIC was built in 1850, 273 tons. Ran New Orleans-Upper Coast by Captain Schreck. This second MUSIC was off the lists in 1859.

She was a major literary figure in her day, and helped to advance women's fiction. In 1850, Hentz published her most profitable novel, Linda, or the Young Pilot of the Belle Creole.


"Tom Sawyer détective" by Sam Clemens Steamboat by Christel Espié

Double page illustration of a steamboat at wharf from a 201 French edition of "Tom Sawyer détective" by Sam Clemens Edition Sarbacane, Paris

Illustrations by Christel Espié

Translated by Anne-Sylvie Homassel

Large format "storybook" style 10 1/2 X 15 inches X 1/2 inch thick, 92 pages

Tom et Huck sont appelés en Arkansas au secours de leur oncle, le pasteur Silas, persécuté par son voisin Brace Dunlap et son frère Jubiter.

Lors de leur descente du Mississipi en bateau à aube, ils croisent un étrange passager, qui n'est autre que le jumeau de Jubiter — lui-même poursuivi par deux complices auxquels il a dérobé une paire de diamants . . . Une double enquête commence pour nos héros inséparables : retrouver les diamants et élucider le meurtre de Jubiter, commis la nuit même de leur arrivée chez l'oncle Silas. Le temps presse car le malheureux pasteur s'est accusé du meurtre et comparaît bientôt devant le tribunal du pays . . .

- Nouvelle traduction, très réussie, d'une aventure aujourd'hui épuisée de Tom Sawyer (dernière traduction parue : 1902!)
- Plaisir de l'enquête et des jeux de déduction
- Une langue sonore et créative, savoureuse et drôle
- Des héros célèbres et attachants : le fidèle et affectionné Huck, plus lucide qu'il n'y paraît, et le fameux Tom Sawyer, généreux, prétentieux, intelligent . . . et comédien en diable
- Un super travail sur la lumière, inspiré de la peinture des XVIIIe et XIXe siècles


The boat illustration was by Ray Coombs for The Book of Fantastic Boats which was originally published in England by Archon Press in 1974. The Chaperon as he depicted it was almost half this wide and had a strange color scheme. It was just the boat floating on a white background. I widened the boat and conformed painting to the way it should look. The river, sky, paddlewheel wake, smoke etc. I scanned and combined from photographic sources.

recent acquisitions
Beautiful illustration on page 117 by F.C. Yohn for a story set Down South with steamboats & African Americans.

"Down River" on pages 307-319
By James B. Connolly
Illustrated by F. C. Yohn (Frederick Coffay Yohn 1875 - 1933)
From Scribners Magazine, Sept. 1916


by John Henton Carter
(Carter wrote humorous articles on steamboating under the pen name Commodore Rollingpin)
Illustrated by L. Berneker
New York, Dawn Publishing Co. 1903
292 pages

The hour for the departure of river boats was five o'clock in the afternoon, and it so happened that this particular Saturday was one of more than ordinary interest. It was well known that Capt. Delaney had spared neither pains nor expense in building the Belle Creole to make her, in point of speed and elegance, superior to any boat that had appeared on the Mississippi.

The J. M. White, (whose time from New Orleans to St. Louis remained unbroken, until the race of the Robert E. Lee with the Natchez, a quarter of a century later), was to depart the same evening.

The Sultana, which held the championship from New Orleans to Louisville, the Duke of Orleans, which had won equal fame by beating all records to Cincinnati, and several other coast packets of acknowledged speed were among those to join in the contest.

From the moment it was known that these famous steamers were to go out together, the event became the principal theme of conversation, not only in New Orleans, but all along the river, for West bound boats had spread the news and bets were being freely made at all points as to the result. As Capt. Delaney had always borne the reputation of owning and commanding the fastest boat on Southern waters, his new venture was expected by his friends to sustain his reputation. Very little freight was taken on board any of the steamers, yet all were well supplied with passengers.

Early in the afternoon faint spiral coils of smoke began to ascend from the chimneys of the boats, indicating that they had already started their fires and were getting up steam.

The day, throughout, had been perfectly clear, but the artificial darkness, created in the furnaces of the boats, (which, by this time had become as so many living, vital creatures, chafing their chains, impatient of restraint), had filled time space above, through which the vague outlines of the sun floated in the West far above the housetops in Algiers. To those living at a distance, the heavens were ominous and served to remind them of an event they rarely failed to witness, the weekly departure of the Mississippi racers, which always occurred on Saturday evening.

Carriages bowled by and took their places a mile or two above the starting point, so that the occupants might get a good view of the boats. Idle sailors leaned over the sides of the ships that for miles lined the river front, and anxiously awaited their coming.

The same condition of things extended to Carrollton and beyond. The tops of the flatboats, near which the contestants would be obliged to pass, swarmed with human beings. Some of the coast packets had already rung their first bell, and the vibrant tones of the others now followed. There was an increased bustle about the ends of the gang planks on the wharf. The few belated passengers were hurried aboard. Another bell, and above an increased volume of smoke. Every man was at his post; the firemen, like so many demons, were hurling the fuel into the roaring furnaces. The planks by this time were all in but one. Another bell, "All aboard."

The J. M. White, with her usual spirit of banter, was the first to start. She swung out into the stream, and, simultaneously with the first stroke of her engines, fired her gun. Down came the flag from the jackstaff; quickly her backward movement was checked, and then, as if in brief contention with the fierce current for mastery, or, like a charger for a moment held back by his rider, she broke away from all restraint and dashed off with the speed of the wind. A score of roustabouts had already taken their places on the forecastle near the capstan, and began their parting song. The leader, mounted on the "bits," towering above the others, and with the palms of his hands pressed hard against his ears, so as to concentrate and strengthen his clarion voice, sang the stanzas, the others joining in the chorus.

Next came the Belle Creole, fresh and beautiful as a bride, with all her flags flying and responding to every vibration of her machinery with an alacrity that suggested the agility of an Atalanta entering the chase. The Sultana and Duke of Orleans were scarcely a length behind. One! two! three! The guns belched forth their notes of defiance, down came the flags, the rousters on each boat poured forth from the forecastle their parting songs and all were off.

The heavens by this time were one brooding canopy of smoke, while pouring from each pair of chimneys below, as if force by some superhuman power, were still denser columns, shooting upward for a moment, and then with a gentle curve falling over into the rear and lying like so many mammoth black, fire charred logs, in a horizontal position above the surface of the river. These plainly marked the track of the boats and changed from straight to serpentine in form, as it became necessary for them to alter their course with the curves of the stream. Just before they started there was a rush made by those near for the upper part of the levee, all wishing to see the contestants pass at full speed. As the J. M. White shot by (scarcely causing a ripple in the water; so delicately was she modeled), a spontaneous burst of applause rent the air. Before this had subsided the Belle Creole was abreast.

Amid the uproar, one among the crowd had uttered no cry of admiration for the leader. This was Blanche Dole, who silently stood among the spectators. In the scene that followed, however, there was a change. She leaped upon a pile of tarpaulins close by, waved her handkerchief, clapped her hands, and cried out, "Hurrah for Mr. Delaney." As the boat was not fifty yards distant, he waved recognition, and the next moment disappeared behind the shipping. The impression she received of him then aroused her as she had never been moved before.

The cheering continued as the Sultana and Duke of Orleans brought up the rear. There was not the distance of a hundred yards between the boats, each forging ahead in single file. The contest, in one respect, seemed unequal but this circumstance served to elicit the greater applause. The Duke of Orleans was scarcely more than half the size of the others, having been built to go through the Louisville canal. She was only one hundred and eighty feet long, and seemed like a pigmy competing with giants.

"She is little, but she is game," shouted one as a parting salute. For a time the crowd remained unbroken; all stood and watched the racers winding their way around the shipping, sometimes partially obscured by the masts and rigging, until at last all faded from the vision, except the dissolving coils of smoke that marked their track.

Among the passengers on each boat were the usual number of sporting men, who, at the time, were wont to infest the Mississippi, but in the excitement no one thought of gambling, except upon the result of the race. Watches were held on all the contestants, and the time to every given point noted. During the first hour neither could claim the advantage; possibly the Duke of Orleans had dropped back a dozen yards, but it was not measured against her. The positions of the J. M. White and the Belle Creole were unchanged.

Capt. Delaney, who was not disposed to force matters, remained at his post on the upper deck. He had a picked crew of officers and firemen in whom he trusted implicitly. In the meantime, the Sultana had been making every possible effort to increase her speed.

Pounded resin, in addition the best quality of pine knots, was being shoveled into the furnace and pokers were kept busy shaking up the fuel to admit of a fuller supply of oxygen. She had gained a little.

Capt. Delaney now left the hurricane deck and went below. The firemen, who kept a close watch on the other boats, gauging their efforts by the necessities of the moment, had become alarmed. Mr. Perkins, the chief engineer, had taken a position near the furnace, where he stood calmly eyeing the men, as if to stir them to greater efforts to increase the steam. Capt. Delaney by this time was at his side. The two held a brief conversation in low tones, when Mr. Perkins said to the mate, who, with several deck hands, was standing by, as if awaiting orders :

"Collins, roll several barrels of resin forward and open them up."

The order was quickly executed. A number of axes were employed and the material for combustion was soon in readiness.

"Try a little of that, boys," said Mr. Perkins, at the same time opening his knife and cutting the cord that bound together a dozen shining new shovels which had just been brought from the forecastle hold by one of the men.

"She nevah tas'e dat yit," cried the captain of the gang on watch, "but I reck'n dat she'll like it."

The coils of black smoke belching from the chimneys immediately became denser and the roar of the furnace louder, and it was evident that a higher tension had been reached. The reserve forces were being called into action. The Sultana was a fraction nearer; her crew, it was plain to be seen, were much elated over their apparent advantage. One great black rouster had gathered up the end of a large rope and stood lashing the nosing of the guard of the boat as if to goad her to the last extremity.

"Yo' kin whip dat ha'um gal ez much ez yo's aimin' to," shouted one of the Belle Creole's firemen, "but she'll nevah make dis 'ere craf' drink stun' watah."

Then came a roar of laughter in which the blacks joined.

The little Duke of Orleans was still a fraction in the rear, but by no means vanquished. Being small, she'd "hug" the shore and take advantages not possible with the other boats. The J. M. White was an easy leader, but had made no gain, the Sultana being the only one of the fleet that had moved forward.

"Don't increase your speed just yet, Mr. Perkins," said Capt. Delaney, as the two parted and he returned to his post above. He had just reached the hurricane deck, when Mr. Ostrander, the pilot, remarked:

"She's working a full stroke and making an effort to pass us."

The severe strain, Capt. Delaney knew, could last but a moment, for the steam would soon be exhausted; but, in the meantime, the Sultana had forged ahead and stood nearly abreast of the Belle Creole. Seeing the impossibility of accomplishing his object the pilot resorted to an unfair method, oftentimes practiced under similar circumstances. He flanked in against the opponent, locked her, and attempted to crowd her into the bank; the effort proved futile, however, for at this moment Capt. Delaney said to the pilot:

"Mr. Ostrander, tell Mr. Perkins to let her out."

The two communicated through the speaking tube.

Immediately the Belle Creole was given a full head of steam and shot away from the Sultana at a rate of speed that gave her the appearance of having relaxed all effort and given up the contest in despair. On the contrary, however, she was doing her best, though in a few moments she had fallen back to her old position in the rear and was still losing. The two had shortened, slightly, the distance between themselves and the J. M. White, but a little extra effort on the part of the latter soon adjusted conditions.

This wonderful steamer was equal to all emergencies. It was quite honor enough for the Belle Creole to hold its own with her, and that was all that Capt. Delaney, at the time, attempted.

It was now nearly nine o'clock and darkness had settled down, though there was a "sun to sun moon," a term conferred on this orb by pilots, when it was full, or nearly so. Sixty miles had been covered, and the Courtney plantation was at hand.

The J. M. White had already made two landings and had dropped a mile into the rear. The Sultana was in a like manner detained, and at this moment was lying at the bank more than a mile off, so that the Duke of Orleans had come to occupy second place.

By the time the Belle Creole had deposited the Courtneys and their effects upon the bank the Duke of Orleans had passed up. Now came the Belle Creole's opportunity. Her opponent would be obliged to stand out and be passed, or, under the cover of necessity, take to the bank.

In building the Belle Creole, Capt. Delaney had given her two inches more diameter of cylinder than necessary in order to exhaust the steam her boilers were capable of generating. He did this, he said, one day to Mr. Perkins, so that the boat would have, if need be, on certain occasions, reserve power. This reserve power was now brought into full play.

The brief delay at the Courtney plantation had been taken advantage of, and when she again took to the stream she had a full head of steam. Mr. Perkins saw his opportunity. He again "let her out," threw the throttle valve wide open, and the Belle Creole, in the language of the rousters, who noticed her wonderful speed, "fairly flew."

Anticipating what was to come, the Duke of Orleans had also husbanded her resources by shutting down and slacking her headway, until the time for the test of powers should arrive, but her efforts were unavailing, for even before she could feign a necessity to land, she was left struggling helplessly in the rear. When at midnight the watch was changed, Capt. Delaney went below before retiring, and addressing Mr. Walters, who had just relieved Mr. Perkins, said:

"Don't crowd her any more tonight ; she has proved her mettle. Let her go along easy."


Sidewheeler, built Cincinnati, Ohio 1845. 447 tons.
Ran New Orleans-Bends 1846, Capt. Champromere.
Burst a steam line Nov. 16, 1849, near New Orleans, five killed.
In New Orleans-Vicksburg trade, 1850, Capt. J . M. White.
Off the lists 1852.

Sidewheeler, built Cincinnati, Ohio, 1842. 307 tons.
Ran Cincinnati-New Orleans.
She was a five-boiler boat and noted for speed.
In March 1844 came up from New Orleans to Cincinnati in 5 days 18 hours, a record never beaten.
Her crew at the time: Capt. C.R. Sedam, master; Louis Krouskropp, clerk; E.W Cunningham, second clerk; Thomas L. Richardson, mate; Thomas M. Rowe, second mate; Isaac West, chief engineer; Wesley Reynolds, Andrew Sweeney and Enoch Clements, assistant engineers.
For several years after, a banner of canvas hung on the forward roof rail boasting of the triumph.

The QUEEN OF THE WEST tried to better the record and failed.
She departed New Orleans on Sunday, May 26, 1844, on this exploit.
Her fastest downbound time Cincinnati to New Orleans was 3 days 20 hours, probably also a record which endures.
Capt. Joel Green was master in 1845.
Burned at Ste. Genevieve, Mo., Apr 29, 1848.

2866 J .M . WHITE
Sidewheeler built Elizabeth, Pennsylavania, 1844.
200 x 30.5 x 7.6. Engines, 30's- 10 ft.
Seven 2-flue boilers.
Paddlewheels 30 ft. dia. working 12 ft. buckets.
She was said to be 233 ft. overall, and 62 ft. wide.

Owned by J.M . Convers, J.M. White and E. N Beebie, all of St. Louis and Convers was master 498 tons. She was designed for speed. A reporter from Spirit of the Age interviewed Captain Convers at Pittsburgh who said she would make the run from New Orleans to St. Louis under four days. Captain Convers was a native of Zanesville, Ohio and is buried there.

She left Pittsburgh on Mar 6, 1844, with passengers eating their noon meal and was at Cincinnati next noon, her time 24 hours 5 minutes-470 miles. During the first season she ran a "speed trial" from New Orleans to St. Louis and confirmed all expectations—came up in 94 hours 9 minutes. The pilots on that occasion were Isaiah Sellers and Nathan Way.

Later on posts were placed along the shores at the 24-hour mark, 48-hour mark, etc. as brags to all and sundry She was unequaled for speed; no other boat could touch her; her crew had to content themselves by surpassing their own records from time to time. Mr. W. Few, chief engineer, said she did the Cairo-St. Louis run a few years later in two hours better time.

Edward H. Beebie was her clerk on the 1844 run—later lived at Galena, Ill. Jonathan Warden, assistant engineer, was living at Independence, Mo., in 1870 and recalled that the valve packing in her engines was cotton and hemp which had to be constantly screwed up, and replenished every day He also recalled that her side-wheels had no circles and when running in drift were frequently pushed back on the arms, a circumstance which happened on the fast trip and she was not delayed to fix them.

The hull shape was designed by John Wakens from a half-section model whittled by William (Billy) King, Elizabeth, Pa. This half-section was a prized possession of Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Lincoln's war secretary, and hung over the door of his Washington office. A widely circulated tale was that Billy King destroyed the half-section with an axe to prevent anyone from duplicating the WHITE's superior lines. J.M . White, Esq. died at St. Louis, Sept. 26, 1846.

Capt. J .C. Swon afterwards ran the boat and remarked, "Convers has often beaten me in the speed of his boat, but he never before has beaten me half so badly as when he sold me the WHITE."

She was more of a plaything; not a commercial success.

Sidewheeler, built Jeffersonville, Indiana, 1843. 527 tons. 237 x 30.5 x 7.5. Enrolled at New Orleans July 3, 1844, Capt. Horace Pease, master and part owner, his partner being Abijah Fisk, New Orleans Capt. A.W Tufts took stock in November 1846 and took command. Capt. Pease was son- in-law of Capt. Tufts. Abijah Fisk was quite well-to-do and had high regard for Peace who was killed when the CONCORDIA exploded (see). This was the largest steamboat at New Orleans in her day.

A brief biography of Carter from

John Henton Carter, son of Dr. John James and Margaret (Hellion) Carter, (formerly of Liverpool England), was born at Marietta, Ohio, May 3, 1834. Dr. Carter dying while his son was yet an infant, his widow, with her two daughters and infant son, returned to her father's (John Henton) home, 93 Oldhall Street, (Henton Block) Liverpool, Eng., where they remained until their return to America, (Marietta, Ohio,) in 1838. Here Mr. Carter received his education.

Upon his mother's death, April 17, 1847, Mr. Carter went South, steamboating upon the Ohio, Mississippi and Red River of the North.

He was married in 1861 and the following year Mr. and Mrs. Carter, with their infant daughter, went to Columbus, Kentucky, and afterwards to Cairo, Illinois. At the close of the Rebellion they settled, with their three children, in St. Louis, where they have resided ever since, with the exception of five years in New York City.

Mr. Carter is an Author and Journalist. He has published numerous prose and poetical works, notably, "The Log of Commodore Rollingpin," "Thomas Rutherton," & "Duck Creek Ballads."

Mr. Carter did journalistic work for many years on the St. Louis Times ; since then he has edited his own publications —"Rollingpin's Annual," the "Veiled Prophets" (October Pageant Number), being especially noteworthy.

Mr. Carter is a member of Pilgrim Congregational Church, St. Louis, Mo., and is a cultured and genial gentleman.

Mrs. Carter, like her husband, was a member of Pilgrim Church, St. Louis, and was constituted a life member of the Womans' Home Missionary Union of Missouri by the ladies of that Church. She possessed a social talent which won her friends among old and young, also a cultured taste which was especially evidenced in art, but as wife, mother, grandmother and home-keeper, she was pre-eminent.

Address, 3323 Lucas Street, St. Louis, Mo.

Interesting that Carter was born in Marietta, Ohio where the Ohio and Muskingum rivers converge and now the S&D group meets every September, the Ohio River Museum is also thereand where the towboat W.P. Snyder Jr. floats at the museum landing on the Muskingum River.

Carter was born on May 3, 1834 and Sam Clemens was born the following year in Florida, MO on Nov 30, 1835.


Henry Lewis emigrated to Boston from England with his parents when he was 10 years old and at the age of 17 he moved to St. Louis where he was apprenticed to a carpenter and discovered that he was a natural born artist when he began painting scenic backdrops on canvas for the St. Louis Theatre.

Attached is Plate 2 from THE VALLEY OF THE MISSISSIPPI ILLUSTRATED by Lewis, consisting of 78 lithographs with informative text, that he made from sketches and paintings he had drawn and painted himself between 1846 and 1848 of towns and scenic wonders on the Mississippi River between St. Paul and the Gulf of Mexico.

Beginning in 1848 Lewis painted a 75 thousand square foot horizontally scrolling "Panorama" of the Mississippi which he toured with and narrated as an educational traveling show.

In the Panorama Lewis specified that the steamboat GRAND TURK was wooding at Commerce, Missouri.

In the lithograph, Lewis located the wooding scene on the Mississippi below the mouth of the Red River.

Source material:

Henry Lewis
"The Valley of the Mississippi Illustrated"
Edited by Bertha Heilbron
Translated from the German by Hermina Poatgieter
Published in St. Paul by the Minnesota Historical Society, 1967

"Painting the River: Henry Lewis's Great National Work" by Lisa Knopp

A copy of the German first edition "Das Illustrirte Mississippithal"
originally published in the German language at Dusseldorf circa 1854-58
was sold in New York City by Bonham's auctioneers in December 2010 for $61,000

Chapter 2 below has been edited and abridged from Hermina Poatgieter's translation for the 1967 St. Paul, Minnesota edition:



This illustration [Plate 2] represents one of the largest New Orleans steamboats wooding at night—a singularly wild and striking scene, which shows the character of the country below the mouth of Red River, where the Spanish moss, as it is called, is hanging in immense festoons from the trees, giving to the landscape a solemn and funeral-like appearance.

The appearance and construction of the Western steamboats—peculiar only to the Mississippi and its tributaries are characterized by their light draft, speed, and capability for carrying freight.

The boats are built with a perfectly flat bottom without keel and very sharp at the bow.

The hold in the largest class of boats is rarely more than six feet deep and the engine and boilers are placed on the deck, and not in the hold of the vessel as is usually the practice.

The boilers vary in number from two to eight according to the size of the vessel and are placed side by side forward, the mouths of the fireplaces being just under the chimneys.

The engines, of which there are usually two, are back of the boilers.

These are always horizontal high-pressure engines, as it has been found that none other will answer owing to the immense amount of sediment found in the waters of the Mississippi, and which directly cuts to pieces the peculiarly constructed valves of the low-pressure engines.

Back of the engines is the place called the deck, where all that class travels who cannot afford to go in the cabin.

The boats on the Mississippi all burn wood, and such are the immense quantities destroyed in this manner that, had not nature provided an inexhaustible supply, some other fuel would have had long since to take its place. The deck hands are always employed to assist in the operation of wooding.

The ladies and gentlemen's cabin extends the whole length of the boat, over the boilers and machinery, and there are no steamboats in the world which supply such comfortable accommodations and such good fare as those on the Mississippi. The whole of each side of the boat is occupied by the staterooms (as the sleeping apartments are called).

These rooms accommodate two persons each and, although not large, are exceedingly convenient. There are two doors to each room, one opening to a sort of veranda that runs round the boat and the other to the cabin, so that on a warm summer's day you can sit in your stateroom and see and hear everything that is going on in the cabin, at the same time watching the rapid and ever-varying panorama as you rapidly pass the shore.

The prices of traveling here in the cabin are very low considering the accommodations the traveler enjoys.

From New Orleans to St. Louis the average price is $15.

For this you receive your stateroom, three meals a day, all attention—and no servants or stewards to be paid—a practice the Americans do not believe in, and if any servant either in a hotel or steamboat is ever known to have asked for money, he is immediately discharged.

The upper deck of the boat or, as it is called, the hurricane deck, is the general promenade for the cabin passengers; no spot can offer more inducements after the heat of the day, and during a fine moonlight night, especially to the smoker and the lover; for many a delicate Havana has there wasted its fragrance on the desert air, and many a young heart has yielded itself up—a willing captive—to the tender influence.

The high tower-like building between the chimneys is the pilothouse, elevated in this manner so that the person steering can see ahead and detect the breaks and ripples in the water that indicate the presence of the dangerous snags, sawyers, and other impediments.

The rooms underneath [in the "texas"] are occupied as sleeping rooms for the pilots and engineers, and the high pole [called the "jack-staff"] fixed on the bow of the boat with the large black ball is for the pilot to take the range of objects ahead.

The time occupied in making the voyage from New Orleans to St. Louis is, at a good stage of water, about four and a half days, and if the water is low the boat has to run slower.

From St. Louis to the Falls of St. Anthony, 1,000 miles, the time taken is usually six days; at low water eight or ten, owing to delay at the rapids, where the boat has to take out a great part of her cargo to lighten her.

The fare charged on the Upper Mississippi route is from six to eight dollars.

The largest and finest boats are all found running below St. Louis, as there is generally not water enough for them on the Upper river.

These boats will average a speed of thirteen miles an hour against the current, while those that run above St. Louis, being smaller and of less power, will make only from eight to ten.

The Western boats, even with care and without serious accident, will not last more than four or five years; this is owing to the wear and tear in getting over sand bars, etc., at low water, and the frail construction of the boat; the engine and boilers are then taken out and placed in a new hull and the old boat is used as a wharf boat for landing goods and passengers upon, at the various small towns; sometimes they are turned into floating hotels and shops.


Towboat illustration from C.H. (Cornelius Hugh) Dewitt's illustrations for the book "The Story of the Mississippi" by Marshall McClintock, Harper & Brothers 1941.

The actual JOSEPH B. WILLIAMS (1876-1914) described by Fred Way as the largest and most powerful towboat on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers (at least up until the SPRAGUE came along). Dewitt shrunk the WILLIAMS down to a modest little feller in this pastel and colored pencil artwork for "children of all ages."


In the photograph of the RICHMOND from the Murphy Library both of the following unique features that Fred Way mentions in his history of the boat can be seen:

1. The "ladies observation pilot house" at the rear of the hurricane roof.
2. The sign painter's lettering above the boat's name on the side of the wheel house that reads "35 Pounds Steam LOW PRESSURE."

Excerpt from
Chapter 4
by Francis Parkinson Keyes

As the RICHMOND came floating into view, her clean-cut bow swelling gracefully back toward her great wheels, she rested with such apparent lightness on the water that the effect was almost one of some ethereal craft, gliding toward the shore of a magic lake, rather than that of a powerful river boat, slowly approaching a dingy city wharf.

. . . they had gone aboard and were passing slowly through the main cabin to their stateroom. Here was the thick-piled, rich-colored carpet, extending the entire length of the vast channel-like saloon. Here was the rosewood furniture, elaborately carved and upholstered in satin damask. Here was the concert grand piano, also of rosewood, also elaborately carved. Here was the great series of golden chandeliers, glittering with glass prisms, bright with a thousand burners. Here were the skylights of tinted glass, emblematically depicting scenes and products of the Southland—the cotton fields, the orange groves, the avenues of magnolias in full bloom. Here were the gilded mirrors and moldings, the fretwork and marquetry, the panels depicting the city of Richmond, to which this floating palace owed her name, and the city of New Orleans, which was her home port.

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


Sidewheel Packet

OWNERS: Captain J. Neal; Captain Nate Green and others (1870)

OFFICERS & CREW: Captain J. Stut Neal (master); William Winton (chief engineer); John S. Woolfolk (1st clerk); R.P. Lodge (2nd clerk); Wes Whitlow (mate); Anderson Lewis (steward); B.A. Congar (clerk)

From Way's Packet Directory Number 4753: The RICHMOND

Original cost, $240,000. The hull was built at Madison, Indiana by Vance, Armstrong and Company in 1867. The boat was completed by Alex Temple.

Five of her boilers were from the Jacob Strader; the sixth one was new and used as an extra for auxiliaries.

In the main cabin was a special steam gauge for all passengers to see.

On her wheelhouses, for a time, was lettered "35 Pounds Steam" as an advertisement of safe travel.

Her passenger cabin contained 70 "parlor" staterooms.

An unusual feature was a ladies' observation pilot house built on the skylight roof aft of the texas.

Access was gained by a spiral staircase which originated in the main ladies' cabin below.

The main cabin was graced with an oil painting titled "Richmond on the James".

Roustabouts called her "the Rebel Home".

A newspaper called The Richmond Headlight was published on board.

She ran New Orleans-Louisville. In spite of all her magnificence, she wasn't successful financially and was put into a U.S. marshal sale in 1870.

Captain Green and others bought her and took her to St. Louis for the New Orleans trade.

On April 7, 1870 she hit the bank 45 miles below St. Louis.

Cargo had to be jettisoned to keep her from sinking and she had to return to St. Louis for repairs.

She managed to turn a profit nonetheless. The Richmond has a major role in Frances Parkinson Keyes' novel, Steamboat Gothic.


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