Illustrated Steamboat Postcards


ST. LOUIS The Levee
Color lithograph Post Card
Circa 1890's

Raphael Tuck & Sons
"Art Publishers to Their Majesties the King and Queen"

Post Card Series
No. 2220, "St. Louis"

Printed in Germany

Sternwheel Packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 1135

Built at Jeffersonville, Indiana, Howard Ship Yards, 1889; homeport or owner's residence St. Louis Missouri; original price $13,000. She was built for the St. Louis & Tennessee River Packet Company to run St. Louis-Tennessee River trade; they chartered her to the Lee Line to run out of Memphis in September 1895. She was acquired by Captains A. E. and L. P. Cummins to run Memphis-Vicksburg. She sank at Shiloh Landing, 60 miles above Vicksburg on September 18, 1897, and was raised. She burned at the Memphis, Tennessee wharf March 9, 1898. The WARREN was chartered to replace her, and then the CUMMINS got the Ouachita for the trade


Detail from vintage postcard entitled:

"Two different styles of Mississippi Steamers."

Published by F. v Bardeleben, New York. Made in Germany.

Sidewheeler ST. PAUL Way's Packet Directory Number 4965

Sternwheeler DUBUQUE Way's Packet Directory Number 1616


"DOWN UPON THE MISSISSIPPI" post marked card 1906

Information on verso:

Raphael Tuck & Sons' Post Card Series No. 23709 "In the Land of Cotton." ART PUBLISHERS TO THEIR MAJESTIES THE KING AND QUEEN.

Sternwheel Packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 3252
Built in 1884 at Jeffersonville, Indiana
Owned by the Parisot Line.
Operated on the Yazoo River.
She was a cotton packet.
Still listed as of 1886 and perhaps later.


Colorful post card from my collection of the sternwheel cotton packet NATCHEZ published by F.M. Kirby & Co. New Orleans post marked 23 Sept 1910. Have not been able to determine how many bales were in her "record cargo of cotton." The previous nine steamboats named NATCHEZ were all sidewheelers.

This boat, built in 1891 was the first sternwheeler named NATCHEZ.

Sternwheel packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 4111

Built in 1891 at Jeffersonville, Indiana by Howard Ship Yard

Original price of Natchez was $43,000 and her home port was New Orleans, Louisiana.

Owned by the aging T.P. Leathers, the Natchez was commanded by his son, Captain Bowling S. Leathers and his daughter-in-law (Captain Bowling's wife), Captain Blanche Douglass Leathers.

Captain Blanche obtained her license in August 1894 and she was a no-nonsense executive and ran a tight ship.

Captain T.P. died in New Orleans, June 1896.

The Natchez was the only sternwheeler ever owned by the Leather's fleet and was their last boat.

The Natchez had several accidents over the years: November 1896, three miles above Natchez, Mississippi she sank with 1,700 bales of cotton and 8,757 sacks of seed.

Accident occurred as a result of dried hull seams.

In early February, 1897 she hit the shore at Cottonwood, 20 miles below Vicksburg. Mississippi and tore away the jack-staff and stages and toppled her chimneys.

She also sank at Ford's Crossing, 12 miles below Natchez in November, 1899.

In 1902, Captain William A. Duke became master.

She received new boilers in July 1914 and in 1915 was sold by the U.S. marshal for $6,500 to Capt. Duke.

Captain Duke ran her in the New Orleans-Cariola-Grand Lake trade where she was often laid up for long periods.

In 1918, she was dismantled.


1891: Captain T.P. Leathers

1896: Captain Bowling S. Leathers and Captain Blanche Douglass Leathers

May 1915: Captain William A. Duke

Officers & Crew:

1891: Captain Bowling S. Leathers (commander)
1894: Captain Blanche Douglass Leathers (clerk)
1899: Captain William A. Duke
1902: Captain William A. Duke (master) & T.C. Sachse (clerk)


Nice coloring job on this old postcard and with flags upgraded 'tis a thing of beauty . . .

Packet/Excursion boat

Way's Packet Directory Number 4043

Sidewheel Packet/Excursion boat

Built in 1901 at Jeffersonville, Indiana by Howard Ship Yard

Owned by:

Louisville and Evansville Packet Company (1901-1910)

Captain Walter Blair (1910)

Coney Island Company (1918)

Her bell came from the CITY OF CINCINNATI.

Ran in the Louisville-Evansville trade. She was taken to Cincinnati in 1910 and had 25 feet added to her length forward of the boilers. She then ran in the St. Paul-Davenport-Stillwater trade under the command of Captain Walter Blair.

In the summer of 1911 she ran a special cruise from Davenport to New Orleans and out to the Jetties and return.

A similar excursion planned for April 1912 was canceled due to high water; instead she ran an excursion from Davenport-Cincinnati and back.

In May 1914 she made a special trip from Davenport to the Tennessee River. By June 1914 she was back running in her usual trade.

In the fall of 1915 she made a tourist trip from St. Louis to New Orleans. In May 1916 she made a Davenport to Florence, Alabama trip.

She was sold in spring 1918 to the Coney Island Company of Cincinnati to replace the Princess.

She was made into a full-scale excursion boat continuing in the Cincinnati-Coney Island trade until she burned at Cincinnati on November 4, 1922.

The fire was caused by a watchman boiling tar on the galley stove for roof repairs.

Her roof bell went to the GENERAL WOOD while she was in the Coney Island trade.


Sternwheel Packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 1059

Captain Jesse McMahan (first owner);
Captain L. V. Cooley (master); M. E. Fahy (clerk)
Ouachita River; Red River; Alabama River; Mississippi River

Built in 1893 at Jeffersonville, Indiana by Howard Ship Yards
Original price $19,000. Home port or owner's residence circa 1893, New Orleans.
Ran New Orleans-Camden on the Ouachita River. Also made trips up the Red River
Got in a hurricane at Mobile (1906) and was blown out on mud flats and dismantled in 1910.


From the 1930's and into the '50's one of the "fashions" in post cards with jumbo letters that each contained photos of the town, city or state that it depicted. I scanned the one of HANNIBAL, Missouri then cleaned up the sides and replaced all the images with my own. In this particular composite I placed the whole thing over a detail from an aerial photo I took from a little single engine plane flying over Hannibal and the Mississippi in October 1995. It worked out pretty nicely. I also placed the design over other photos of Hannibal that included the river and familiar landmarks.


Promotional post card for the Memphis & Arkansas City Packet Co. featuring the first Kate Adams. Major John D. Adams was owner of the boat and head of the company. Nice old timey advertising.

steamboat illustration

This is the Steamer Choctaw; one of my favorite post cards. Captioned: "Wharf Scene, Little Rock. Arkansas." Can't remember if I ever sent it previously.

The boat is so simple and modest, yet the retouch artist managed to get carried away and surpassed themself by creating something approaching a work of art. I can't quite put my finger on why it's so intriguing, maybe it's the dynamics of the vertical and diagonal lines and of course the color, particularly the magenta hull, and those rather over-simplified clouds. Probably just another banal day's work for the retouch artist but somehow they managed to glorify the commonplace into something out of the ordinary, perhaps even bordering on the surreal? Well, you'd know better about that than me.

Photo postcards


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.*