Dave Thomson owns a wheel that came from the pilot house of the Peerless. Originally built by Captain Norman Staples in 1900, they christened the ship the "James T. Staples." On January 11th,1912 at Powe's Landing, Alabama the boiler exploded killing 26 persons and injuring 21 others. The wreck floated down and sank below Bladon, Alabama. Mr. James Little, president of the Peoples Bank, bought the wrecked boat. He raised it, rebuilt it, and put it back into business as the Peerless in 1915. In 1924 Little sold the Peerless to Captain O. F. Burke, who renamed it the Helen Burke for his sister. The boat was abandoned in 12 Mile Marsh above Mobile and "rotted down" as Fred Way says, during the years 1929 - 1930.
Jim Hale took this photo when the Peerless pilot wheel was hanging as a chandelier at Weidmann's Restaurant in Meridian, Mississippi. Weidmann's also owned the large mural, then later Dave acquired it from a Meridian antique dealer.
The Peerless pilot wheel now hangs in Dave Thomson's townhouse in Los Angeles County. Here is a close up of the wheel since restoration with old holes drilled for light fixtures gone and lustrous sheen to old wood brought back to life.
Here Darlin, Cody, and a cubist Dave gather for some steamboat wheel appreciation. (Dave T. is also an artist who does surrealist art.)
Inside Dave Thomson's steamboat museum, including a steamboat whistle (above left) and a telegraph (above right).
Dave sent this jpg, the steamboat room poem!! Enjoy! Maybe this will inspire our visitors to start a steamboat room of their own! (Yeah, we all have them, he he.) Originally printed in the Waterways Journal, May 21, 1955. Poem written by W.J. Devine.
The pilot wheel is from the little sternwheeler Blue Wing which
operated out of Keokuk, Iowa early in the 20th century.
The sternwheeler City of Monroe is a 5 foot generic model
based on Captain Cooley's boat the America. It was built
by James Hale of Sylvan Springs, Alabama in 1975. The
whistle, steam gauge and engine room telegraph are original.
Not visible is a pilot house telegraph and speaking tubes
for pilot house and engine room.
Half of the library consists of books on the history of the Western Rivers including steamboats, river cities and river towns as well as fiction inspired by river history. The other half of the book collection is made up of all of Mark Twain's books including many illustrated foreign language editions of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and local history books about Hannibal, Missouri.