Steamboat Photos, Page 4



CAPITOL at New Orleans x 2 - 1920's

Have scanned the attached files from some tiny little proof prints that had been made from stereoview negatives by an outfit in London. Had expected these to be contact proofs from regular sized stereo negs but the graininess of the images suggests that they were made from 35mm negatives. Here are two of the Streckfus steamer CAPITOL at New Orleans credited to a photographer named J. Dearden Holmes circa the 1920's. The CAPITOL's short stacks looked rather truncated but they were probably designed that way for ease of passage under bridges.


dramatic hi contrast 8 x 10 press release photo with the following caption on the back:
September 9, 1941

The sternwheeler UMATILLA, the last of the Columbia river craft which participated in the wheat run from The Dalles and Umatilla to Portland, quietly sank at her Shaver Transportation company moorage Sunday night.

Engines, boilers, etc., had been removed last autumn when she was retired. The UMATILLA was last used for a quarter boat for feeding workmen on conversion of the U. S. S. NEVILL, navy transport, last spring.

She was built at Celilo 33 years ago for government dredging in the upper Columbia river."
footnote from
Report of the Chief of Engineers U.S. Army

By United States Army Corps of Engineers



Government Printing Office

excerpted from page 2213:

"The steamboat UMATILLA , which was 50 per cent completed at the beginning of the fiscal year, was finished and accepted from the contractors in the latter part of November. She was at first put to work raking shoals at Biggs Rapids, and on December 23 proceeded to Homly Rapids, 117 miles above Celilo, where she was employed during the rest of the season, when the conditions permitted, blasting rocks, raking shoals, and removing boulders. High water finally put a stop to operations, and she proceeded to Lewiston, where she arrived May 9, and was laid up for the freshet season. The UMATILLA traveled 1,600 miles, acting as tender to scows, making inspection trips, etc."


Left and right halves of a recently obtained original panoramic photo print published by STAR PHOTO of St. LOUIS, MO Copyright 1907

The panorama was taken on October 2nd, 1907 from a high vantage point. Overall size of the print is 9 1/2 X 39 1/2 inches.

The Eads Bridge in the distance on the Mississippi with the steamers ALTON and SPREAD EAGLE are prominently displayed in the left half of the panorama (in the top spot).

The photo below that (the right half of the panorama) includes the steamboat U.S. Inspection steamer MISSISSIPPI which had transported Roosevelt from Keokuk. The MISSISSIPPI is the first boat on the left recognizable from her outsized pilot house, visible on the far side of the Lee Line Wharf Boat.

An honor guard is lined up on either side of the ramp leading from the wharf boat to the levee and a procession of dignitaries probably including President Theodore Roosevelt is filing in single file down the ramp to the levee. About half a dozen fancy horse drawn carriages can be seen on the waterfront who will take the honored guests first to the Jai Alai building where Roosevelt gave a speech, a facsimile of his manuscript is online here:

"Roosevelt addressed the City of St. Louis advocating the financial benefits of thoughtful transportation development, drawing comparisons to the Suez and Panama Canals. He also discussed the importance of maintaining and developing the Navy."

From the Jai Alai building the guests were taken by carriages to the Jefferson Hotel where luncheon was served. A contemporary newspaper article below gives an account of the lavish hospitality of St. Louis gave Roosevelt that day.

Aspen Daily Times
Aspen, Colorado
Published October 3, 1907

President Arrives at St. Louis on River Steamboat
Distinguished Assemblage Greets the Popular Chief Executive
St . Louis , MO.
October 2, 1907

* * *

For the first time within the memory of the resent generation a chief executive of the nation today arrived in the Mound city by steamboat and departed from the city in the same manner.

President Theodore Roosevelt on hoard the steamboat MISSISSIPPI from Keokuk , reached St. Louis shortly alter 1 o'clock this morning.

Accompanying him on another craft were the members of the Inland Waterway commission.

The President found St . Louis awaiting his arrival in gala attire.

Steamboats and other craft bedecked with flags filled the river.

Not since the palmy days before the war has St . Louis seen so many steamboats at one time.

They came from Evansville , Cairo, Alton, Kansas City, Keokuk and other river points and bought delegations of business men and others desirous of impressing upon the president and the members of the waterways commission the importance of the river traffic and the urgent necessity for improvements in the Mississippi and its chief tributaries.

As the president's boat came into sight it was greeted with deafening shrieks from the steamboat whistles, which were echoed by the cheers of the thousands of people who lined the river front and occupied positions of vantage on the wharfs and on the two great bridges spanning the Mississippi river.

It was a distinguished assemblage that greeted the president when he landed near the foot of Locust street. Included among those present were the governors of more than twenty states, members of congress, the mayor and other representatives of the city of St . Louis and a reception committee of the Business Men's league, which had the general arrangements in charge .

After the exchange of courtesies the president and his party were taken in carriages to the Jai Alai building , where he delivered his address. The route lay through Washington Avenue, Twelfth Street , Pine Street , Grand Avenue, Lindell Boulevard and other leading thoroughfares.

Flags were flying from every staff in the downtown section and the city was bright with bunting. Pictures of President Roosevelt greeted the eye at every turn.

Crowds lined the streets , anxious to get a glimpse at the chief magistrate and his appearance was always the signal for tumultuous cheers .

After the exercises at the Jai Alai building the president was escorted to the Jefferson hotel where he was entertained at luncheon.

Covers were laid for 400 and among the guests were the visiting governors and numerous other persons of note.

From the hotel the presidential party proceeded at once to to the wharf to re-embark on the Mississippi .

The departure was the signal for another great river demonstration similar to that which had greeted the president's arrival in the morning .

Scores of boats will accompany the president's boat down the river as far as Cairo, which is to be the next stopping point and which city will be reached according to schedule at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning.


Brand new photo measuring 3.20 x 5.60 of a "rouster" (roustabout) who had hoisted some 4 footed cargo (a pig) onto his left shoulder to unload it from an unidentified steamboat and stopped on the swinging stage to pose with his burden for the photographer.


On the "coupe" auto parked on the deck is what appears to be a vintage Ford Moto-Meter radioar cap hood ornament with wings. This photo from an eBay auction displays a similar radiator cap. "The Moto-Meter Co, Inc" - Long Island City, NY USA" (9" wing span ... 4" high meter/cap).



History of the steamer CASCA from
The CASCA was a wooden sternwheeler, 180 feet long, with 36.5-foot beam and 5.6-foot hold.
She had one deck, was of carvel build, with a straight head and transom stern, and had 5 bulkheads.
Over the winter of 1936-1937, the CASCA was partially constructed at Vancouver for the British Yukon Navigation Company with pre-fab units then shipped to Whitehorse for assembly; most of the boat was then built at Whitehorse
Licensed for 180 passengers in 1937, she was the plushest ship on the upper river, used for most British Yukon Navigation Company tourist runs.
On June 20, 1974, the CASCA and the WHITEHORSE stood side by side out of the water on the ways when they were lost in a fire at Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.
They were occupied by squatters at the time who probably started the the blaze by accident with a cooking fire.
Fortunately the Yukon steamboats KENO (now at Dawson City, Yukon Territory) and the KLONDIKE (now at Whitehorse) have been preserved, restored and can be visited.
Below is a portion of an informative online article about the Klondike River "Five Finger Rapid not Rapid[s]."
"Highway #2—North Klondike Highway, Km. 380 - FIVE FINGER RAPID"
During the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush, thousands of prospectors navigated their homemade boats and rafts 1300 800 miles from Bennett Lake to Dawson City.
Five Finger Rapid was a major obstacle along the route and more than a few stampeders ended up in the water after choosing the wrong channel.
". . . a great barrier looms up a mile ahead—five great irregular blocks of reddish rock ranging across the river like the piers of a bridge—making two principal channels. That on the left is growling ominously over shallow rocks, so we turn to the right and drop into a small eddy a few hundred feet above the great wall. We climb up and look at the rapid. It seems by no means dangerous. The opening is about one hundred feet wide, with vertical walls, through which the river drops a couple of feet, the waves rising angrily in a return curl, then dancing on in rapidly diminishing chops until lost in the swift current below."
" We turn our prow squarely for the middle of the cleft; a drop, a smash, a few quarts of water over the sides, and we are shot through into the fast current, without even looking back."
Tappan Adney, The Klondike Stampede.
Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press
Only one of the Five Finger channels was deep enough for the sternwheelers, but the current remained very strong.
At low water, the boats could steam right up and through it.
At high water, the falls created a 1 to 2 foot shelf.
A sternwheeler ascending the rapid could only move up over the shelf until the wheel lifted out of the water and then the vessel lost power.
A cable was attached to the rocks so sternwheelers could winch themselves up stream.
It took 15 - 20 minutes for a power-capstan on the deck to pull the sternwheeler through the channel.
In 1903, the sternwheeler Mary F. Graff touched bottom at Five Fingers and cracked several hull frames.
In 1911 there were complaints that nearly every season there was an accident caused by a steamer striking the rocks at Five Finger.
Blasting work started at Five Finger in 1900 and continued until at least 1927.
Rock was removed and the channel widened by 20 feet. . . .
The Five Finger islands and riverbank are composed of conglomerate rock (pebbles and boulders embedded in a sand-to-mud matrix) that is more resistant to erosion than surrounding mudstone layers.



The Dredge William A. Thompson

Since 1937, the Corps of Engineers Dredge William A. Thompson kept the Mississippi River navigable by maintaining channel widths and depths.

This large vessel measures 267 feet in length, was operated by nearly 70 crew members, and was originally propelled by 650 HP engines.

As the last of its kind, the Dredge Thompson was decommissioned when new machinery was brought in as a replacement in 2006.

In Sept 2002 after the voyage on the towboat PATRICIA GAIL from Cape Girardeau, MO to Memphis, TENN, I drove upriver to Hannibal, MO and the riverside home at "Scipio" of Curt Lees and Ann Sundermeyer who had accompanied me on the trip.

Curt took me out on his pontoon boat while I was there so I could take photos of the dredge WM. A. THOMPSON at work in the Mississippi near Turtle Island which you've seen in other photos I've sent of this part of the river. It was a miraculous clear day with great sunshine on the boat and beautiful reflecting water. History and current status of the THOMPSON below

The Dredge William A. Thompson arrived in Prairie du Chien on June 13, 2012, and is currently moored in the backwaters of the Mississippi near the Prairie du Chien Marina. Boaters and passersby—as well as those who greeted the vessel upon its arrival—have probably noticed its imposing size and distinctive shape: 267 feet long with the cutter head projecting from the bow and two spud towers rising from the stern. Community Development Alternatives of Prairie du Chien acquired the Dredge in the spring of 2012 from the Corps of Engineers, which desired to find a community willing to receive the vessel and preserve its rich history of service on the Upper Mississippi River. CDA is currently developing plans to convert the Dredge into a Museum of River Transportation.

The Dredge William A. Thompson is a wrought iron hull, self-propelled, cutter head suction dredge fabricated in 1936 by the Dravo Company of Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), St. Paul District. The largest and only remaining example of its type used by the Corps, the Thompson was generally considered the best of the fleet and served as a basis for future design of large cutter head dredges. The Thompson holds a distinguished place in the evolution of marine dredge craft. The Thompson is the most original of two cutter head vessels built for the Corps that incorporated self-propulsion via diesel and electric engine systems, on-board crew quarters, and dredge mechanism on a scale not achieved since (McCroskey 5).

The Dredge will tell the story of its role in transforming the Upper Mississippi River into a transportation artery, opening the doors for Midwest agribusiness to national and world markets. The museum itself will be a unique integration of political, social, and environmental history, featuring one of the few and best-preserved dredge artifacts in the United States. No other restored dredge can claim the Thompson's singular place at the intersection of two historical movements: the effort to establish a nine-foot channel on the Upper Mississippi to expand national commerce beyond the rail system; and the technological advancements necessary to develop the machinery to accomplish the task.

Once the Dredge is permanently set in its final location, it is envisioned that an access structure would be constructed to provide the public access to the main deck and upper decks. Upon boarding the Thompson, visitors will be greeted by a fully-preserved cutter suction dredge. The four interpretive strategies as determined by a team of academic scholars—Upstairs/ Downstairs (social theme), The Machine, The National Story, and The River—will be accomplished in separate sections of the vessel that comprise different components of the overall Museum tour.

Prairie du Chien offers a fitting location for the Thompson. More than 100 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, two Frenchmen with five other voyageurs entered the Mississippi River at the mouth of the Wisconsin River. Father Marquette and Joliet laid eyes on what is now Prairie du Chien on June 17, 1673. By 1685, another Frenchman—Nicolas Perrot—built trading posts or forts at various locations, one at the southern limits of Prairie du Chien. River traffic was the only practical means of transportation for personal goods, and Prairie du Chien was strategically located for this purpose. In 1823, the first steamboat to navigate the upper Mississippi River, named 'Virginia,' arrived on the Riverfront in Prairie du Chien. With the arrival in 1857 of the first rail line connecting Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River, Prairie du Chien soon became a transportation hub—where land, rail, and river transportation came together.

Congo sternwheeler SERPA PINTO for NORI exp

Here is an old photo of a small African sternwheel steamboat named SERPA PINTO after a Portuguese explorer and colonial administrator of southern Africa. The gentleman's full name was Alexandre Alberto da Rocha de Serpa Pinto, Viscount of Serpa Pinto ("Serpa Pinto" for short who was born in April of 1846, embarked on his African adventures during the 1860's and died in Portugal in December, 1900.

Portugal laid claim to the land on either side of the mouth of the Congo River in 1484 and ran naval patrols near the mouth of the Congo, exacting tariffs from British adventurers and entrepreneurs for the right to trade along the river, who would often traffic in slaves who began as captives stolen from rival tribes and then sold or traded to slave traders who transported them by sailing ships to the Americas.

This sternwheeler appears to date from sometime between 1915 and the 1930's.

Fore and aft are what appear to have been covered and mounted machine guns that patrols could use to intimidate or fire upon people considered to be trespassing on boats or on shore without paying the requisite tariff.

Of course this scenario is mostly conjectured, a historian specializing in the history of Southern Africa during the Colonial era could provide a more definitive story.

Illustrated engravings of this sort of craft could be found in boat yard catalogues aimed at a special clientele who would order boats for "Tropical Waters" that could be delivered assembled or in parts shipped by large ocean boats to the coast of Africa, South America and other tropical regions and assembled on the banks of a river and subsequently provide an efficient means of navigation for explorers, merchants & traders, missionaries and enterprising Captains who transported all manner of cargo from captured animals and ivory to civilian and enlisted passengers along narrow streams that wound their way through vast jungles often in uncharted territory.

recent acquisitions

W. W. (Excursion boat, 1905-1922)
Sternwheeler built as the City of Winona in 1882 at Dubuque, Iowa
Owned by Captain John Streckfus (1905); Captain Frank T. Rounds (1917); John F. Klein (1920) and Captain Ralph Emerson Gaches (1921)
Operated on the Mississippi; Ohio and Cumberland Rivers

From Fred Way's entry Number 5666:

Renamed the W.W. in 1905 in honor of Captain Walter Wisherd. The W.W. and the J.S. were popular excursion boats on the upper Mississippi River. Captain Rounds bought the W.W. in 1917 to replace the Golden Girl. She ran excursions and in the summer of 1918 was in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1920 owner John Klein used her to tow barges loaded with pipe from the upper Ohio to the lower Mississippi. In 1921 she was bought by Captain Gaches who used her to tow his showboat. The show was boycotted at one point by people of of Crown Hill, West Virginia who assumed that the name of the boat, "W.W.", stood for Woodrow Wilson. Captain Gaches replied that the initials stood for "Western Waters" and so the show went on. The W.W. was lost in a windstorm at the head of Brush Creek Island on the Ohio River in the spring of 1922.

recent acquisitions

A scan of my favorite from a group of press photos taken on Lake Washington east of Seattle in 1970.

The camera angle, the beautiful sky & water, the perfect contrast and focus showcased the snag boat W.T. PRESTON beautifully.

While visiting Anacortes, Washington in October 2006, I was not aware that the Preston was retired there and only a short distance from an antique store . . . After leaving Anacortes (which I erroneously assumed was named after a lady named "Anna Cortez" I was not able to return. Maybe someday I'll get back up there and see the boat.

Below is an edited-down version of an online article on the Anacortes Museum & Maritime Heritage Center website:

The snagboat W.T. PRESTON was built in 1929 and retired in 1981, the last sternwheeler to work in Puget Sound.

Her crew aboard the PRESTON removed navigational hazards from the bays and harbors of the Sound and from its tributary rivers.

The W.T. PRESTON was named in honor of a distinguished civilian engineer who worked for the Seattle District Army Corps of Engineers.

The PRESTON operated as far north as Blaine and south to Olympia and Shelton. She worked 11 months out of the year, retrieving thousands of snags, piles, floats and other debris, including a damaged airplane, fish boats, derelict scows, and houseboats. In addition to her snagging chores, she was used as a pile driver and icebreaker, and dredged about 3500 cubic yards of material in an average year.

By the 1960s recreational boating increased on Puget Sound, necessitating more maintenance of these wider waters. In these circumstances, the W.T. PRESTON as a shallow-draft river vessel found itself vulnerable. One noted storm with a prevailing 40-knot wind blew the boat sideways during a hair-raising passage to Port Townsend.

The PRESTON continued to run until the costs to operate and maintain the snagboat became prohibitive.

The W.T. PRESTON was placed on the National Register for Historic Places in 1979. In 1981, the Corps retired her from duty and solicited proposals to preserve the snagboat.

Impressed with the plan offered by the city of Anacortes, Washington the Corps transferred title to Anacortes in March 1983. The city allocated $40,000 to prepare a waterfront site for the PRESTON beside its old Burlington Northern Railroad Depot.

After being towed to Anacortes, the PRESTON was taken out of the water and on June 22, 1983, hauled overland to her new resting site. She was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989.
W.T. Preston Steamboat Full Video Tour in Anacortes, WA


24 inch wide print in color Elevation of Snag boat W.T. PRESTON
Draftsman was Herbert E. Carlson 1975. The total length of the boat in the print is 24 inches wide and it's matted and framed with non-reflective glass. I scanned it in 2 halves and assembled it in Photoshop.

recent acquisitions

Emily's Reel is my favorite "anthem" to evoke Hannibal, Missouri and steamboating circa 1840's and '50's,
So much energy and subtle excitement . . . like being aboard a big packet going full speed ahead.

"Emily's Reel" was composed by Mark O'Connor and dedicated to Emily Ma.
Mark O'Connor, violin.
Yo-Yo Ma, cello.
Edgar Meyer, bass.
It was featured on the 2000 recording "Appalachian Journey."


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.*