Ferry Boat Photos, Page 2



Walker Evans 1936 photo of the ferry GEORGE W. MILLER at Vicksburg

Attached celebrated photographer Walker Evans classic photo of the GEORGE W. MILLER taken at Vicksburg, Mississippi in February 1936. A lot of contrast and brightness adjustments had to be made from the large format that is reduced here. For comparison's sake am also attaching a La Crosse photo of the MILLER from the 1920's before her boiler deck was glazed in with windows. It appears that a dump truck is dropping tar on the main deck to surface it for traffic traffic from vehicles.

"Ferry GEORGE W. MILLER and wharf goods"

Black and white film transparency 4 x 5 inches

Library of Congress


Sternwheel Ferry

Way's Packet Directory Number 2312

Built for the Mississippi River Ferry Company in 1926 at Jeffersonville, Indiana by Howard and used there along with the ferry CHARLES J. MILLER until the bridge was built. Both boats later were converted to excursion boats. The GEORGE W. MILLER was on the Coosa River in 1944 and later ran on the Chattahoochee River while owned by the Hardy Lines. The boat was sold for debt September 4, 1947 at Columbus, Georgia. It was sold June 1950 to Charles E. Gower and in 1952 to Thurston C. Crawford, both of Columbus, Georgia, and later it was dismantled


Walker Evans (November 3, 1903 - April 10, 1975) was an American photographer and photojournalist best known for his work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) documenting the effects of the Great Depression. Much of Evans's work from the FSA period uses the large-format, 8x10-inch camera. He said that his goal as a photographer was to make pictures that are "literate, authoritative, transcendent". Many of his works are in the permanent collections of museums and have been the subject of retrospectives at such institutions as The Metropolitan Museum of Art or George Eastman House.


From a friend in Alton, Illinois. The ferry MILL BOY had a rough and ready, home-made quality. Here she is as a "luxurious" excursion boat. The passengers got to use their imaginations.

Written in margin:

"Str. MILL BOY and BARGE #1. Excursion from Washington to Augusta, MO. August 19, 1908"

MILL BOY Sternwheel ferry

Fred Way's Packet Directory Number 3928

Built at Hermann, Missouri in 1893

41 tons. 89.2 x 18.8 x 2.8. Engines, 8" 2 ft. One boiler.

Owned by Frank Blaske and others. Destroyed by ice in winter quarters at the head of the chute opposite South Point, Missouri on the Missouri River, on January 1st, 1910.



Way's Packet Directory Number 0763

Sternwheel ferry built New Haven, West Virginia in , 1897

38 tons. 79 x 20 x 4. Engines, 7" 3 ft. One boiler, 50" by 13 feet

Owned 1906 by the West Memphis Ferry Co.

Rebuilt in 1907 after having been caught on a ringbolt during a flood.

Capt. Miles Bridgewater was master at Memphis in 1902.

Off the lists by 1910.

The written caption on the back of this photo differs when it comes to the state and the year that the HUGO was built:

"STR. C.H. HUGO Built by Frank L. Blaske at New Haven, Missouri (on the Missouri River) in 1895."



Two photos by John Miller of the cabin aboard the former steam ferry CITY OF BATON ROUGE provided by co-owner Carrie Stier in recognition of the recent Centennial celebration of the ferry which serves as wharf boat for the riverboat TWILIGHT at LeClaire, Iowa.

The classic nautical architecture of the arches and skylights evokes a nostalgic glimpse of what passengers experienced on steamboats in the Mississippi valley during their long golden era on our inland waterways.

Adapted from an article in the Quad City News: Centennial birthday celebration and re-christening of the "City of Baton Rouge"

LeClaire, Iowa

A centennial birthday celebration and re-christening of the former steam-powered ferryboat, City of Baton Rouge, was held on Saturday, May 28, 2016 at 1 p.m. on the LeClaire riverfront.

Hosting the celebration were Captain Kevin and Carrie Stier, co-owners of the Riverboat Twilight. Local river historian Judy Patsch served as christening official. Travis Vasconcelos, riverlorian and acting docent, gave a performance on the calliope. Historical commentary was provided by the editor of the S & D Reflector, Dave Tschiggfrie.


The City of Baton Rouge was built in 1916 at the Howard Shipyard in Jeffersonville, Indiana, for the sum of $22,000. Operated by the Baton Rouge Transportation Company, she served as a ferry boat on the lower Mississippi river between Baton Rouge and Port Allen, Louisiana.

Her steam engines were manufactured in 1915 by the Gillett, Eaton and Squire Company of Lake City, Minnesota, and were required as part of the building contract to provide enough power to make a seven-minute crossing between the two landings.

She has a catamaran hull and was formerly powered by a single center paddle wheel. The City of Baton Rouge had a capacity for 500 passengers and 21 cars. She operated as a ferry until April 1968 when the opening of a new bridge over the Mississippi ended the need for ferry service.

About this time, Captain Dennis Trone was just beginning to realize his vision of building an authentic steam-operated riverboat. By November 1968, Captain Dennis Trone had completed the purchase of the City of Baton Rouge, and she was on her way upriver to Dubuque, Iowa, to have her steam engines, paddlewheel and other equipment salvaged for use on Trone's new steamboat, the Julia Belle Swain.

While at the shipyard in Dubuque, the City of Baton Rouge was remodeled to function as a dock boat for Trone's new excursion boat company operating out of Peoria, Illinois. A ticket booth was added, a full kitchen and food storage area was built in place of the center paddle wheel, the main deck was opened up to provide a sheltered area for passengers waiting to board the Julia Belle Swain, and eventually the upstairs passenger area was divided into small staterooms to house the crew.

On the evening of August 9, 1980, a strong thunderstorm—some say it was a tornado—blew through downtown Peoria, and the resulting winds tore off the old pilot house and damaged the roof, forever altering the iconic look of the historic ferryboat.

In 1987, the City of Baton Rouge was lashed to the front of Trone's newest excursion boat, the Riverboat Twilight, and Trone's fleet (the Julia Belle Swain, the Twilight, and the City of Baton Rouge) traveled downstream to Grafton, Illinois, and then up the Mississippi River to LeClaire, Iowa. The trip of almost 435 river miles took three full days. Traveling through the night required excellent piloting skills as the Twilight was most definitely not designed to do the work of a tow boat.

Once the trio arrived at LeClaire, the City of Baton Rouge was permanently moored to the shore and began her third career as the home dock for Trone's Mississippi River cruise operations. She continues to this day to serve as a passenger boarding area for the Riverboat Twilight. She also serves as storage area, workshop, and crew accommodations. Her second deck has the best seat in the house to watch LeClaire's annual TugFest fireworks.

During the centennial re-christening, in addition to celebrating 100 years of service for the City of Baton Rouge, the former ferry was also re-dedicated her to her last "Captain"— Captain Harry Alsman, who passed away in August 2014. One of the first LeClaire residents to come down to the riverfront to welcome the new riverboats to town, Alsman ended up with a second career, lifelong friends and countless memories.

He and his wife, Joanie, assumed responsibility for the City of Baton Rouge and the grounds where she was moored. Joanie started a beautiful garden, and Harry made sure the boat looked her best and was present to welcome every passenger.

Harry Alsman hauled the lines back to the wharf, waved to the passengers at every departure, and was always on time to throw out a line when the boat returned to the City of Baton Rouge. He knew every crew member and often just shook his head at their antics. He drove the crew to the bus station, the mall, the doctor, the hospital, and anywhere else they needed to go. He was a father figure, a shipmate, a co-conspirator, but most importantly, a friend to everyone.



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 [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.

W. HARLOCK small passenger ferry 2 photos

W. HARLOCK a quaint passenger ferry on the upper Mississippi

The image on top is from a real photo post card off eBay, plumbed and cropped to fit above a detail of the same boat from a high angle photo in the Murphy collection. The top image that I bought is more quaint with the rather funky, rough and tumble condition is in. Even without a sternwheel it's an interesting and unusual craft for the Mississippi. The folks posing in the top picture are a great bunch of characters.

Screw propeller Ferry

Way's Packet Directory Number 5670

W. Harlock had the ferry built at Lyons, Iowa and gave it his name.

She ran on the Mississippi River between Fulton, Illinois and Lyons, Iowa.

Judging from her appearance the ferry could only accommodate passengers and a limited amount of cargo but no vehicles except for bicycles.

Navigating the ferry's route was made challenging by sand bars and in order to get aboard, customers had a long walk out to the end of the government pier located on the dam near the end of Tenth Avenue in Fulton.

After the bridge company started bus service in 1915, customers for the ferry slackened off.

In 1918, the W. HARLOCK steamed away to the Illinois-Mississippi Canal (now called the Hennepin Canal) and later put to work in Chicago.

She was documented at Rock Island, Illinois in 1908 and at Des Moines, Iowa in 1918

old boats

3 1/2 X 4 1/2 snap shot circa 1920's on what looks like a ferry boat, perhaps crossing the Mississippi in Louisiana from New Orleans to Algiers.

Written in bottom margin: "Bobby & His Mother Sailin' Down the Missis(sippi)" tail end of last word cut off with missing corner lower right.

If anyone recognizes this boat or thinks that it may belong on a river other than the Mississippi I'd be glad to hear from them.

It's possible that whoever wrote the caption was just joking about this being on the Mississippi.

Mother looks a little annoyed and Bobby not much pleased either.

As if they were saying to the photographer "Choose your words carefully before you speak to us again Mister!"

Behatted and besuited gents seated on the bench further down the deck.

A metal awning extends out over the side from the deck above which probably provided shade on sunshiny days.


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.*