Towboat Photos, Page 1


Unusual real photo postcard. Scan came through with warm and cool tones. It's just in from eBay.

Sternwheel Towboat
Built in 1899 at Dubuque, Iowa for $24,800.
Owned by Mississippi River Commission; USE (1905)

Way's Steam Towboat Directory - T2702;

In October 1901 she burned her cabin and pilot house off at O'Donnell's Landing, Arkansas below Cairo. She was transferred to USE, St. Louis in 1905 and then transferred again to USE (or could that be USACE for the United States Army Corps of Engineers?), Memphis by 1917. In April 1926 she made a trip to St. Paul with five barges loaded with water ballast to test the possibility of an upper Mississippi River extension of the Federal Barge Line. At Island 17 the barges went aground and after they were freed the General Ashburn completed the trip. On August 4, 1929 the WYNOKA hit a rock and sank near the Rock Island bridge. The boat was repaired at Keokuk. She took part in the dedication of the new Peoria, Illinois terminal in June 1931. Sold to the Bissos and renamed BISSO in 1935.


"On the ways" at Gasconade, Missouri, 1933.
The JOHN JAMES is either being pulled out of the river or being lowered back into it.

JOHN JAMES (Towboat, 1931-1943?)

Sternwheel Towboat

Way's Steam Towboat Directory T1416

Built in 1931 at Paducah, Kentucky
Owned in 1931 by Massman Construction Company; and in 1940 by the Burke Line
Captain C.H. VanHorn (master), Murrel Wade (chief engineer)
Operated on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers


Nice sharp photo from the Detroit Publishing Co. collection
The Ohio River circa
"Canal locks at Louisville, Kentucky."
8x10 glass negative
Detroit Publishing Company 1906

Sternwheel Towboat
Way's Towboat Directory Number T2463
Built in 1889 at Brownsville, Pennsylvania by the Axton yard

While owned by John Hoffman she was a harbor boat at Louisville, Kentucky.
In April, 1901 she sank at the Louisville harbor while moored at shore with four loaded coalboats; one of the coalboats sank and pulled the other three and the Transit down.
In March, 1912 Captain Dan Varble died on the Louisville levee enroute to catch the Transit.
She was later owned by the Combine (MCC) and in March, 1918 they brought her to Pittsburgh. John F. Klein bought her in October, 1920.
In 1925 she was rebuilt at the Ayer & Lord ways at Paducah, Kentucky and renamed A.W. ARMSTRONG. At that time she was owned by Ayer & Lord Tie Company


This 1928 photo was online a while back on the California state capitol's newspaper the Sacramento BEE. The DOVER No. 2 (1891-1935) was built in a characteristic style once plentiful on the Sacramento River. Boats like this appeared in that 1931 "talkie" HEAVEN ON EARTH that was based on Burman's novel MISSISSIPPI. The DOVER is literally "towing" two barges behind her, each barge was steered by pilots in the individual pilot houses which were necessary to keep the barges on the same course as the DOVER. In the Mississippi valley the barges are attached to the front end of the towboats and become in effect part of the towboat steered by the pilot all day and night, visibility permitting.

This can also be found at the Sacramento Room digital site oclc.org


Madison Coal & Supply Company chairman Charles T. Jones took his family on summer vacations aboard the diesel sternwheel towboat LAURA J (built in 1929).

In a 2013 on portky.com Captain Eric Grubb wrote that the LAURA J. had been purchased by Lawson Hamilton who named her MOMMA JEANNE and keeps her at Port Amherst, West Virginia on the Kanawha River.

In one of the photos that Cap't Grubb posted of the MOMMA JEANNE in that article everything but the sternwheel had been remodeled so extensively that the boat no longer possessed the authentic vintage appearance that the LAURA J did.

This print that I scanned was mixed in with some photos from my '93 DELTA QUEEN voyage that began at Memphis. I may have taken this after disembarking from the DELTA QUEEN at Cincinnati and took a rental car up along the Ohio River.

This could have been taken at Aberdeen, Ohio (across the river from Maysville, Kentucky), Gallipolis, Ohio or Marietta, Ohio. The opposite shore reminds me of what I could see across the river from Gallipolis while taking photos of the JUANITA there in 1990.


From a good quality poster print. Our hero Fred Way Jr. was one of the two pilots on this towboat in 1935, In the winter of 1919 the IRON CITY was chartered to a movie company for NORTHWARD MALICE, filmed along the Allegheny River. So far I have not found any additional information regarding this "silent movie." The name may have been changed and some of the footage of the IRON CITY may have been "recycled" for use in "talkies" filmed after the advent of sound beginning in 1929.

Sternwheel Towboat

Way's Steam Towboat Directory Number 1199

Built in 1912 at Parkersburg, West Virginia at the Pope docks for Iron City Sand Company

Officers and Crew 1935:
Captain Tom Potts, Master
Chris Bigenho, Chief Engineer
Clayton Wiley, 2nd Engineer)
Clarence W. "Heavy" Elder, Pilot
Fredrick Way, Jr., Pilot

In December 1926 she was stranded for a time on Deadman's Island on the Ohio River. In the winter of 1919, she was chartered to a movie company for making the film "Northward Malice" along the Allegheny River. In August 1934 she burned to water's edge and was completely rebuilt. In November 1935, she made a trip for the American Barge Line. Dismantled in 1948 by the owners, the Crain Brothers.


Towboat, 1898-1935
Kanawha River

BUILT: 1898 at Raymond City, West Virginia

Burned at North Bend, Ohio in August 1935


Captain Ed Woodward (master, circa 1898-1916); Walter Thacker (pilot, before 1908); John Mahan (pilot, before 1908); Thomas Oliver (chief engineer); Captain William D. Curry (master); Captain John F. Rust (pilot); William H. Patrick (pilot)

Way's Steam Towboat Directory No. T1982

Captain Burt Chambers supervised the original construction of the Otto Marmet; she was later lengthened at Cincinnati. On January 29, 1935, she broke a shaft at St. Joe in lower Cincinnati which caused her to run through herself on both sides. She was not repaired and burned in August 1935


A favorite photo of a jaunty little boat. One of those perfect profiles with a beautiful reflection on the water. This is a craft one could live aboard and navigate the rivers with for a lifetime.


Sternwheel Rafter/Towboat
Built 1896 at Clinton, Iowa by C. Lamb and Sons
Burned on September 4, 1927
Clinton Sand and Gravel Company
Captain John W. Lind
Mississippi River
Way's Towboat directory - T0166:
"Was used as the bow boat for the Chancy Lamb when towing log rafts; did raft work in early years."


This is an original albumen print that I loaned to Ralph DuPae and he had it copied for the Murphy collection.

JOHN MOREN (Towboat, 1885-1907)
Sternwheel Towboat
Built in 1885, Brownsville, Pennsylvania at the Axton yard
Burned at Cairo, Illinois on November 8, 1907
Owned in 1885 by Moren interests
Captain James Moren (master)
Ohio River
Fred Way's Steam Towboat Directory Number T1424

The Moren interests in Pittsburgh operated the Advance Coal Company. The John Moren was called the "Irish Ram" by rivermen. December 1895, Captain James Moren left her to become master of the James Moren. Once in the MCC Combine (1900), she was laid up ca. 1903-1906. She came out again in October, 1906 and burned at Cairo, Illinois on November 8, 1907

old steamboat photo

A Culver picture captioned on back "Loading rock phosphate."

Sternwheel Towboat
Way's Steam Towboat Directory Number T2163
Built in1925 at Morgan City, Louisiana
She left Morgan City, Louisiana on January 20, 1928 for Sheffield, Alabama under a contract to Tennessee Valley Sand and Gravel and was purchased by that firm.


This just in today 4 January, 2016 excellent, very sharp real photo postcard,


Sternwheel "pool style" Towboat in the manner of the W.P. SNYDER JR.

Way's Steam Towboat Directory Number T1323
Built at Ambridge, Pennsylvania by American Bridge Company, 1922, as the WM. G. CLYDE.

Ran on the Ohio and Monongahela rivers.
Renamed JAMES E. LOSE in 1937 after being purchased by the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Company, Pittsburgh.

Renamed CHARLES R. COX in 1948.


2.30 X 4.15 snapshot of the SUTER on the Missouri River near St. Joseph, MO.

Fred Way's Towboat Directory "biography":

Stw tb sh 1928-1952. b. Gasconade, MO, 159x30x5. Condensing engines 12's,24's-6 ft. stroke by Shelton. Water- tube boiler, oil burner. Owned by USE and a sister boat to BIXBY. Capt. Robert H. Wilson was master for some time on the Missouri River, Charles Weiher, chief engineer. Sold at public sale to Capt. I W. Menke, St. Louis, February 7, 1952 for $8,307.77. He renamed her CHAPERON and moored her with his showboat GOLDENROD at St. Louis. The CHAPERON was non-operating except to supply steam and electrical power for the showboat.

SPRAGUE_1968_COLOR_Some cables & wires removed REDUCED for NORI

SPRAGUE at Vicksburg, 1968 from a high resolution scan of a vintage Kodachrome slide.


Vintage 35mm Kodachrome Color Slide 1959-1962

SPRAGUE "Port of Baton Rouge, Louisiana" under her name at stern

Looks like this was taken at Vicksburg in the same location as the other color slide we have which was taken at a later date from a lower angle


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.*