Steamboat Photos, Page 13


Artist Michal Blaser sent this today with some other image files. Michal's a friend of Don Sander who owns the CLYDE. Michael is doing a special painting of the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE in honor of her upcoming 100th birthday.

CLYDE was built by Ed Newcomb in Pepin, WI from 1991 - 2001.

The CLYDE. was named after the Rafter CLYDE., the first iron hulled boat (1870) on the Upper Mississippi River.

Ed Newcome's grandfather, Frank Newcomb, was pilot on the CLYDE and his brother Ike Newcomb was Master.

When Ed was a kid, his dad built a 20' sternwheeler with a 6 HP Briggs, and "this started the whole deal", Ed recalled.

On May 17, 2012, Captain Don Sanders, long-time steamboat Captain; former Master of the DELTA QUEEN, the P.A. DENNY and many other paddlewheel vessels, bought the CLYDE from Mr. Newcomb and with the help of a friend, Everett Dameron, brought the sternwheeler under its own power from Alma, Wisconsin, on the Upper Mississippi, to Aurora, Indiana on the Middle Ohio River a distance of some 1,300 miles.

The CLYDE presently calls Aurora home.


From the Library o' Congress a photo of the BISCAYNE on the Miami River in Florida in 1901. Named for an Island called Key Biscayne just off the Florida coast.


Lady Grace

May 9, 1959.

On June 20, 1963 the new U.S. Mail Packet boat Lady Grace will leave Wheeling that evening to re-enact a historic but commonplace event which occurred 100 years ago when West Virginia became the 35th state.

A formal contract has been entered into between the U.S. Post Office Dept. and Walter McCoy, President of the newly organized Wheeling, Sistersville & Charleston Packetboat Co., of Sistersville, W. Va. to carry U.S. Mail between Wheeling and Charleston by way of the various cities along the West Virginia shore of the Ohio River.

The Lady Grace is owned and operated by Capt. F. Way, Jr. who is well known in Marietta and who is the famous river pilot, author, historian as well as "Mr. Ohio River".

The Lady Grace is an authentic miniature replica of the old-time 1863 sternwheel packet boat which operated on the inland rivers a century ago.

Capt. Way will be assisted by Capt. Walter McCoy of Sistersville and President of the newly organized Packet boat company.

Bob Henderson, Postmaster of Sistersville will act as "Route Agent" for the U.S. Post Office Dept.

The new packet boat company has prepared an attractive cover to be used on this trip and the cachet will combine the West Virginia statehood theme with the river packetboat motif.

In addition to the printed cachet each cover carried will be endorsed with a rubber stamp indicating it was carried by riverboat.

The postage on all covers will be paid by using the West Virginia Statehood U.S. Postage stamp and the mail taken on at Wheeling will bear the "First Day" of issue cancellation.

The Lady Grace will stay at Wheeling all day to receive mail and will leave late evening on Thursday, June 20, 1963 and will make stops at Moundsville, New Martinsville, Paden City and Sistersville on Thursday, June 21st.

On Friday, June 22nd stops will be made at St. Marys, Williamstown and Parkersburg.

On June 23rd stops will be made at Ravenswood and Pt. Pleasant and the final destination of Charleston up the Kanawha River will be reached June 24th.

All mail picked up at the ten post offices on this route will be "back stamped" at Charleston upon arrival and will then be forwarded to the proper destination.

For "First Day Cover" collectors and philatelists this event should be unique and of unusual interest.

The last "packet boat" mail issue was provided in October 1929 during the celebration of the complete canalization of the Ohio River.

People interested can purchase First Day Covers at .50 and the complete set of ten Covers including Wheeling at $3.50.

This is what is known as a Full Service package offer.


Photo taken by "Round and Round's" sharp-eyed camera on special invitation at the opening of the river celebration of the Pittsburgh Bicentennial, Saturday, May 9, 1959.

Capt. John W. Zenn is casting a wreath in the Allegheny River from the Lady Grace; Sea Scout David Woodford is watching.

Capt. Frederick Way, Jr. is in the pilothouse and the Sprague, the largest towboat ever built on the Inland Rivers, is in the background.

The Sprague was on a temporary loan for the Bicentennial from the city of Vicksburg, Miss.

The Sprague's steam whistles are housed in Campus Martius Museum here in Marietta.

See: wiki.cincinnatilibrary.org



The signage "BIRD's POINT Route 60" under the pilot house led me to the locale where the 1927 ferry TRAVELER operated between Cairo, Illinois and Bird's Point, Missouri.

Editor's note: there's a controversy over whether this is the correct location. If you have any information to resolve the location of this photo, please write in! (email)
On Mar 15, 2016, at 7:54 AM, T.R. wrote:

I am a lifelong resident of Charleston, Missouri. I've spent a lot of time in Cairo, Illinois, over the years.

The photograph of the Automobile Ferry Traveler on steamboats.com/museum/davet-photos13.html [here] was most certainly not taken at Cairo.

Evidence is there were never two rail bridges at Cairo. The two bridges also tie into a riverbank much higher than that at Cairo. It appears to be a bluff on the far bank of the river with buildings on it. On the far bank of the river at Cairo is a low, flat flood plain. Also, this river appears not nearly so wide as is the Ohio at Cairo.

There was ferry service for Highway 60 between Missouri and Illinois, and this ferry looks like it was used there. Interesting that it may have traveled further along the rivers or it had been sold elsewhere before this picture was taken.

Please, if you find information about where this picture was taken please advise me.

Dave Thomson replied:
Well Mr. Rolwing may be right but I'm not enough of an expert on Cairo and all the other river towns and bridges to know where to begin to guess where else it could've been taken. BIRD's POINT ROUTE 60 is painted on the boat and that is how the connection to Cairo was derived. Perhaps the boat was sold and then moved to operate in another location but the owners hadn't gotten around to painting out the lettering which gave BIRD's POINT as one of the ferry's ports of call.

You can add Rolwing's e-mail to the caption under the photo of the ferry TRAVELER where perhaps another river town resident will read it and tell us where those bridges are.

Editor's note: good news, we have received more information about the location of this photo from Bill Hunter.
On Nov 16, 2016, at 10:51 PM, William Hunter wrote:

Saw the photograph of the ferry Traveler. I agree that there are no double bridges of that type near the Cairo, Illinois / Birds Point. Missouri area. My guess is that this photograph was taken on the Mississippi River from the Arkansas shore looking towards Memphis, Tennessee. The bridges would be the Hanrahan and Frisco bridges built in 1916 and 1892 respectively.
Bill Hunter

On Nov 22, 2016, at 6:11 PM, David Thomson wrote:

Thanks Bill! Appreciate that . . . Dave T.

Neat photo for steam ferry and vintage automobile buffs. The Coca-Cola sign on the front of the pilot house is another unusual detail.

Traveler (Ferry, 1927-?)
Built 1927 at Howard Ship Yard at Jeffersonville, Indiana
Owner's residence in 1927 was given as Key West, Florida

Cantilevered through truss bridge over the Mississippi River on U. S. Highway 60/62 between Birds Point, MO, and Cairo, IL

Location: Cairo, Alexander County, Illinois, and Mississippi County, Missouri

Built 1929; tolls removed 1954; rehabilitated 1983, 2005, and 2011

Builders - American Bridge Co. of New York (Superstructure)
- Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. of Leavenworth, Kansas (Substructure)
- Waddell & Hardesty (Consulting Engineer)


Cantilevered Warren through truss

Length of largest span: 700.9 ft.
Total length: 5,175.5 ft. (1.0 mi.)
Deck width: 20.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 17.8 ft.

contemporary paddlewheel steamboat

Here's another boat photo with a spiritual aura to it . . . I arrived at Keokuk on Friday at sunset before last to attend the Midwest Buffs reception and for about 10 minutes the sun washed the Steamer George M. Verity while those outstanding clouds loomed in the background, only thing missing was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing a Heavenly Jubilation. Hallelujah, the Steamboats are Our Salvation!


George M. Verity being pushed into her final berth where she would sit on a foundation and the water drained back into the river. During high flood waters she appears to be floating on the river again when the water rises up all around her.

Excerpt from "The George M. Verity Story" by David Tschiggfrie:

Built in 1927 at Dubuque, Iowa by the U. S. government, as the S.S. Thorpe inaugurated barge service on the upper Mississippi . The first of four steamboats built for the revival of river transportation, it was the first to move barges from St. Louis north to St. Paul. It remained in service there until 1940, when it was sold to Armco Steel Corp. and put in service on the Ohio River. Armco renamed it the George M. Verity after their founder.

In 1960 the Verity was retired after 33 years of service on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, and on 1961, the boat was given to the City of Keokuk for use as a river museum.

Now berthed in Victory Park, it houses a museum of Upper Mississippi River history, and is open daily 9:00 AM--5:00 PM, April to November.


From several sources listed below I boiled them down into a brief history of the GEO. M. VERITY for you and attached 2 Murphy Library photos of the VERITY when she was active.

The photo of the stern provides a good view of the "helical"/"herringbone"/"V-shaped" paddlewheel which was designed to reduce the vibrations produced when the old straight "bucket" planks slapped the water and put a strain on the boat.

That percussive rhythm is transmitted "shock waves" throughout the boat which first time passengers and overnight guests on a sternwheeler have to get accustomed to.

When trying to get to sleep one experiences what feels like somebody is kicking the mattress all night.

I haven't found any testimonials from officers or crew of the VERITY which would assure us if the "V" shaped paddlewheel smoothed out the percussiveness that the flat buckets produced.

Model makers who tackle the VERITY must find the logistics of engineering a scaled down "V" shaped sternwheel considerably more complex than building a straight bucket paddlewheel.



In 1927 a Minneapolis-St. Paul group of investors formed the Upper Mississippi Barge Line Company and had 3 new towboats built including the S.S. THORPE, named after Samuel S. Thorpe, the first president of the Upper Mississippi Barge Line.

On August 15, 1927 the THORPE departed from St. Louis with three barges carrying 1600 tons of coal and was under the command of Captain Oscar Olsen and had a crew of 28.

For the next thirteen years the THORPE worked for the Federal Barge Line on the Upper Mississippi River.

With the advent of more powerful diesel powered towboats the THORPE was sold to the American Rolling Mills Company, better known as Armco Steel, in 1940.

The name of the vessel was changed to the GEORGE M. VERITY, in honor of Armco Steel's founder.

Several modifications were made to the vessel before it began its service on the Ohio River.

Four staterooms and a lounge were built into the new Texas deck to accommodate company visitors.

In 1945 a new "helical" herringbone "V-shaped" sternwheel replaced the original conventional paddlewheel which had 16 straight bucket planks that slapped the water with jarring force, producing vibrations which put a strain on the boat's hull and frame.

The hull was also widened by adding on fuel tank extensions.

By the time the VERITY ended its service in 1960 it had made 1,018 trips between West Virginia and Ohio and delivered 10,108,000 tons of coal.

In 1960 the Keokuk River Museum Committee was formed after Harold Heule, an Ohio riverboat captain from Keokuk who notified the Lee County Historical Society that the George M. Verity was to be retired.

The 575-ton sternwheeler was beached at Victory Park along the Keokuk riverfront by digging a trench, constructing concrete foundations, floating the George M. Verity into the trench, and finally filling the trench back in.

The George M. Verity was dedicated as a river museum on June 2, 1962.

In 1990 the National Park Service designated the George M. Verity a National Historic Landmark.

The boat gives visitors an opportunity to see in person an historic towboat with its original boiler, machinery, crew quarters and pilothouse.


Fred Way's Steam Towboat Directory: Page 82, Number T0921 GEORGE M. VERITY

Visitors Guide to George M. Verity River Museum greatriverroad.com

Verity celebrates 80th birthday with cake, party August 15, 2007 by Diane Vance in Keokuk's Daily Gate City dailygate.com


189 VerityStacksPilotHouseProfileSunset2010

Verity with a full head-on view with towing knees and even the hull somewhat visible . . . and a portside profile close up of the stacks and pilot house.


Here's a photo of myself from the '90's on the fantail of the GEO. M. VERITY at Keokuk. Spent a pleasant morning with curators Bob Miller and his son John that day. Bob has since passed on and John has excelled at photographing towboat and excursion boats like the TWILIGHT.

I've scanned most of these current files from original 35mm negatives. The Epson Perfection V500 photo scanner has "Digital ICE Technology" which removes most of the dust and scratches for me but I still have to finesse them to make 'em pretty.


This is a photo I took aboard the GEO. M. VERITY in their museum in the main cabin interspersed among the staterooms.

Hope that the proprietors there will have this fancy broadside scanned in high resolution because it could then be restored to its original splendor.

Had to shoot this at and angle to prevent the flash from reflecting off the glass in the frame. Didn't measure it at the time but the size is probably somewhere between 16 x 20 and 18 x 24 inches.

Although most of the text can be read fairly easily the lines "WARSAW CANTON AND QUINCY" AND "TRY US" have faded to the point that they are difficult to read.

The towns of Canton and La Grange Missouri are the next fair sized communities north of Hannibal, Missouri.

Traveling Men!
Take the Daily Packet Steamer
in the mornings for

Leaves Keokuk 6:30 A.M.     Leaves Quincy 3 PM
Warsaw 7     La Grange 4:40
Canton 9:45     Canton 5:30
Warsaw 7:30
Arrives at Quincy 10:30     Arrives at Keokuk 8:15

TRY US and treat yourselves to a rest from the dust and noise of the train, to a clean quiet, pleasant trip on the river.



In Sept 2002 I was fortunate to be a guest aboard the luxurious towboat PATRICIA GAIL for 5 days from Cape Girardeau, MO to Memphis, TENN.

Attached some photos I took and one that one that the Ben Bolden took of me 'way out on the barges the towboat was pushing.

The gentlemen in the lower left photo on deck with the capstan are Mate Ben Bolden and deckhand Wally Goza.

That trip was a magical experience and seems almost more like a dream in recollection than something that actually happened.

I invited a world traveling married couple from Hannibal, MO to join me on the voyage and the husband Curt Lees said it was better than any trip he had taken elsewhere on the planet. Curt's wife was Ann Sundermeyer, head librarian at the Hannibal Public Library. Ann passed away in 2007.

Four years after my voyage on that towboat a reporter was a guest on the same boat and wrote a great three part article about the PATRICIA GAIL; the Captain and many of the same crew members were aboard and are mentioned (see below).

Backstory: A river runs through them

Part 1 of three
Mary Wiltenburg,
Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
APRIL 17, 2006

Backstory: Those whom the river beckons
Part 2 of three
Mary Wiltenburg,
Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
APRIL 19, 2006

Backstory: Navigating the 'wiggles'
Part 3 of three

Mary Wiltenburg,
Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
APRIL 21, 2006


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