Steamboat Paintings, Page 1



Detail of the lower left hand corner of an 1870s Robert E. Sticker painting. A wonderful depiction of the towboat ALICE BROWN that is well worth sharing with the folks who tune in to our channel for nostalgic steamboat imagery. Also attached Bob's high angle point of view of the SPREAD EAGLE at Laclede's landing. Obituary for Bob Sticker from 2011 follows.

Published in Scranton Times on May 23, 2011

Robert E. Sticker, 88, of Pleasant Mount, died Saturday after a brief illness. His wife of 47 years is Nina Giuliano Sticker.

A native of New York and distinguished marine artist, Bob was a legend in the field of marine art. His interest in painting was lifelong. Growing up in Staten Island, N.Y., and watching the incredible activity in New York Harbor sparked an interest in the sea that intensified over the years. When World War II was declared, Bob enlisted to serve his country and chose the Navy for his love of the sea. He was assigned to officers candidate training and appointed captain of the crew of a PBY.

Over the years, he created a body of work that is singularly compelling and dramatic, and reflects the honor, respect and integrity with which he lived his life. He is widely recognized for the accuracy of his research and his unique ability to depict the drama of the human aspect of life at sea, with great compassion and poignancy, and has quietly amassed a national following for his unique and beautiful paintings.

Bob was a founding member of the American Society of Marine Artists and was also the recipient of awards from the Franklin Mint and Mystic Seaport. His paintings are included in Bound for Blue Waters, a book that is a definitive collection of the best American marine art of the 20th and early 21st century. His work is also included in the corporate collections of IBM, Union Carbide and AT&T and in numerous private collections

Also surviving are two beloved children: a son, Robert Edward Sticker Jr. and wife, Reiko; and a daughter, Marisa Sticker Volz and husband, Rick; and his equally beloved grandchildren, Reimi Gabrielle Sticker and Ale Richard Volz.

The funeral will be Wednesday from the Lawrence A. Gabriel Funeral Home, 74 N. Main St., Carbondale, with Mass at 9:30 a.m. in St. James Church, Pleasant Mount. Interment will be in St. James Cemetery, Pleasant Mount.

Friends may call Tuesday, 4 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Marian Community Hospital, 100 Lincoln Ave., Carbondale.

city of monroe assumption

Painting of the Assumption by Wilhelm . . . in front of Jim Hale's model of the City of Monroe for comparison.

Freedomland USA Amusement Park Excursion Boat 1960 Postcard
Nice artist's rendering of the 110 foot long steamboat AMERICAN on the "Great Lakes" at "Freedomland, U.S.A." - the short lived (1960-64) Bronx, New York theme park that attempted to approximate Disneyland on the East Coast. The AMERICAN also had an identical sister boat at Freedomland called the CANADIAN which for a while floated on a mill pond as part of Raymond Schmitt's "Johnsonville," a collection of historic 19th century buildings at East Haddam, Connecticut. The current whereabouts of the AMERICAN and the CANADIAN are unknown.

Two nice photos of the steamboat AMERICAN at Freedomland U.S.A. can be seen at this theme park blog:

I was on the website and looking at the Dave Thomson Collection. I am searching the web for photos of the Freedomland U.S.A. theme park sternwheeler "The Canadian" in its post-Freedomland life. The park closed after the 1964 season. I write about the park and oversee our Facebook page (see link below). My search led me to the website.

I saw the information you have posted under an artist's rendition of one of the sternwheelers. I can provide updated information for you.

"The American" still floats. After the park closed, it ended up as "The Showboat" docked along the Byrum River in Greenwich, Connecticut. Today, that same boat is on the other side of the river on the Port Chester side (Westchester County NY) and it is privately owned and used for private parties. The boats never could fully run on their own power. They were simply barges.

"The Canadian" was taken in 1966 to Johnsonville Village in East Haddam, Connecticut. It was placed on a former millpond that was part of this fictitious old village built on an old mill property and started by millionaire Raymond Schmitt. After Schmitt purchased the boat, he had it floated up the Moodus River and then carried for a distance by truck to place it in the pond. I have found some news clips, a website and a Facebook page about the village. The boat didn't operate at the village. In either late 2004 or early 2005, this sternwheeler was chopped up and trucked away with destination unknown.

Hope this helps. BTW, that's "The American" in the photo. If you go into the photos section of the Facebook page and look for albums, find the one that says Sternwheelers and Tugboats. You will find pictures of "The American" as it appears today in that album. On some of the videos in our video section you will find film of the sternwheelers in operation.

Best wishes,
Mike Virgintino
Here's the link to the Freedomland FB page:
Freedomland U.S.A. - The World's Largest Entertainment Center - Facebook Page


John Stobart painted this in 1978. This is a detail and an appealing composition, that is the deck of a sailing ship in lower left corner . . . Original limited edition prints of this are expensive but can be found on eBay if you've got a windfall and want to invest in a deluxe Stobart.


This ROB'T E. LEE was the second boat bearing that name; she was nicknamed "Hoppin' Bob." Launched April 1876, at Jeffersonville, Indiana where she was built at the Howard boat yard. Lost in a fire at Yucatan Plantation, Louisiana in September of 1882. The first ROB'T E. LEE beat the NATCHEZ in a race from New Orleans to St. Louis in 1870.



Original oil painting 18 x 24 inches by Joe Rigsby of the CINCINNATI recently obtained through a friend and art dealer in Alton, Illinois. Also included a photo of the boat from La Crosse which the artist must have based his painting on.

CINCINNATI Sidewheel Packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 1033

Hull built by Midland Barge Company, Midland, Pennsylvania and completed at Cincinnati, 1924 for John W. Hubbard of Pittsburgh;

Navigated the Ohio and Mississippi rivers

This boat had a double cabin, parlor rooms, baths, separate dining room, steam heat and all the trimmings.

She was designed by marine architect Tom Dunbar as a single-cabin packet for the Cincinnati-Louisville trade.

Before completion, the stateroom capacity was vastly enlarged by the building of a second passenger cabin.

The original cost of this boat was $417,000 of which she made back about $200,000 in the first eight years of operation.

The boat was owned by John W. Hubbard, Pittsburgh and operated by the Louisville and Cincinnati Packet Company.

She made Cincinnati-New Orleans Mardi Gras trips without a break from 1924-1930 and cleared $40,000 on her first Mardi Gras trip.

She was in Pittsburgh on several occasions, and brought the 31st annual convention of the Ohio Valley Improvement Association there in October, 1925.

She appeared for the 1929 celebration of the completion of the Ohio River locks and dams.

Her principal business was regular summer operation in the Louisville-Cincinnati packet trade.

On May 24, 1928 while between Carrollton and Madison, she collided with the MV BELMONT and engineer Homer Johnston was killed.

Hard times came with the Louisville and Cincinnati Packet Company having financial troubles.

The Cincinnati was sold to Streckfus Steamers, Incorporated, St. Louis IN 1932.

Streckfus tore her down to the hull and built a superstructure for an excursion boat named PRESIDENT.


Attached scan of painting by Bill Reed with text by Fred Way, both from the cover of the 1968 Christmas edition of the REFLECTOR. This is one of Reed's better efforts. I "plumbed it up" and cropped it a bit and also desaturated the color to enhance the aesthetics.

Published by Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen

Vol. 5, No. 4

Marietta, Ohio

December, 1968

The steamboat above is the TARASCON, and that is a pretty name, French, and the Tarascon family built sailing ships at Pittsburgh starting in 1801. Soon after that they were making flour, and had a rope-walk and other interesting affairs at the foot of the Louisville Falls. The Tarascon Mill was a landmark at Shippingport for years after.

William E. Reed painted this picture just a month ago for Bert Fenn.

The TARASCON was built in 1895 at the Howard Ship Yard and for about twenty years ran in the packet trade between Louisville and Evansville. That's why Bert Fenn cherishes the boat; he remembers seeing her at Tell City, Indiana. Bill Reed was generous to allow us to reproduce this, and Bert Fenn even more so. While we messed around three weeks getting this color picture made, Bert was biting his fingernails, maybe not literally, for he hadn't yet seen the original oil.

So this is a special Christmas present to all S&D members particularly from Bill Reed and Bert Fenn. They join with S&D's editor and wife, and with the S&D officers, in wishing each and all a steamboat-load of joy delivered aboard the Str. TARASCON waiving the usual bill of lading exceptions.

Folk Art Steamer SPRAGUE on banner ELEANORA on paddlebox for NORI

This folk art style painting was made with a lot of precision. It looks a bit fanciful as if it was dreamed up by the artist rather than an actual boat. The pennant on the flagstaff says SPRAGUE but on the paddlebox is the name ELEANORA.

The flag at the stern looks features a spread eagle in the style of a Union army battle flag during the Civil War.


Burny Myrick's 1976 painting of the CITY of CAIRO from his art book TIMELESS RIVER. The painting had a predominantly yellow ochre cast to it which I cooled off by giving a blue cast to the sky and the steamboat then a blue green cast to the water while retaining the original orange cast to the flags and the lettering on the paddle box. The Timeless River: A Portrait of Life on the Mississippi, 1850-1900

by Burny Myrick

Oxmoor House, Inc.

Birmingham, Alabama, 1981

CITY or CAIRO 1882-1896

Way's Packet Directory Number 1056;

Built in 1882 at Jeffersonville, Indiana by Howard Ship Yards for the Anchor Line.

Home port or owner's residence circa 1882, St. Louis, Missouri.

Original price $75,350. Hegewald and Company built her engines. Usually ran St. Louis-Vicksburg.

Had the roof bell from the EMMA C. ELLIOTT, awarded by the line to the boat making the fastest run.

She gave up the bell to the CITY OF MONROE shortly before she was wrecked in a severe tornado at St. Louis on May 27, 1896. Value at the time of her loss, $40,000

recent acquisitions

In the early '90's I bought this large painted illustration (by an artist whose name I can't recall), from a dealer in New York City who shipped it to the warehouse of the animation studio I was working for.

The dealer packed it in a cardboard box instead of in a wooden crate and I suspected that someone in the warehouse out here deliberately put a big hole through the box which penetrated the canvas, damaging it significantly. The dealer offered to have the painting repaired but I opted to send it back for a full refund instead.

The A-frame brace from which the swinging stage is suspended in the front of the steamboat looks anachronistic to the era in which the white folks on the Lower Mississippi cotton plantation are dressed in antebellum costumes. The style of the painting may have been influenced by Dean Cornwell but this picture has the appearance of a relatively quickly done oil sketch while Cornwell's illustrations are usually much more finished. See our Dean Cornwell collection, click here.

LOOMIS steamboat Painting 33 percent

Back in the mid 1990's I bought this nostalgic steamboat painting by popular American illustrator Andrew Loomis (1892-1959) from an antique store in Montrose.

It was a huge canvas, about four feet wide and apparently painted by Loomis during his later years (he died in 1959 at age 67) on commission from a publisher who then made a run of prints from the painting at about two thirds the size of the original.

I have a bunch of copies of those steamboat prints and one made from a painting Loomis produced at the same time of a stagecoach arriving on a wild and wooly Western street where it was welcomed by a cowboy wearing chaps, some "dance hall girls" in upstairs windows and other exuberant townsfolk.

The antique dealer who sold me this told me that the nurse who took care of the fellow who had commissioned Loomis to paint this (so he could have prints made from it) gave the painting to the nurse who took care of him during a long illness. The nurse kept the canvas rolled up under her bed for something over 30 years before it resurfaced and the dealer had the canvas remounted on stretcher bars.

While I liked this painting for its brilliant use of color, draughtsmanship and brush work I felt it was a bit cloying and more of a fanciful nostalgic representation of steamboat days than a true-to-life one.

Loomis was born in Syracuse NY in 1892, but raised on the Muskingum River at Zanesville where he would have seen plenty of steamboats that came up through the locks from Marietta at the mouth of the Ohio River about 100 miles southeast of Zanesville.

But Loomis did not seem to use much if any of his eyewitness experience of river commerce at turn-of-the-century Zanesville in this painting. The steamboat appears to have been based on the "Gary Wayne," a steamboat in a nostalgic piece of early 1950's calendar art by Paul Detlefsen called RIVERBOAT DAYS.

The building next to the wharf in the painting by Loomis has signage which says STEAMSHIP CO. - DEPOT & TICKET OFFICE. Since when would a steamBOAT line on one of the Inland Waterways ever have called itself a steamSHIP company?

Some years after buying this painting I put it on consignment with Illustration House in NY City who sold it in an auction and got a good return on my investment.


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
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