Saga of The President Steamboat
2015 UPDATE - an explorer located the remains of the President Sidwheeler in Effingham, Illinois. scroll down or click here for photos and more information.
2009 NEWS ON THE PRESIDENT (updated 9/21/2009): Unfortunate news about the President steamship. Our correspondent has informed us that he saw the President steamboat cut up into truck-shipping-size pieces in a field in St. Elmo, Illinois. The man who did this is David Campbell and the trucker who moved it is house mover Jeremy Patterson. There is an effort underway to acquire the President's engines and get them to a secure location so they may be preserved. Our informant said he walked around inside the President's hull and it appeared perfectly sound. Therefore, we do not see any reason why the boat was removed from the water and chopped up. To see photos, scroll down.
OLD NEWS ON THE PRESIDENT (updated 8/13/2009): The President is up around St. Louis (or Davenport, Iowa??), and the machinery has all been removed. It is being used as a Casino Boat. (The machinery from the President was vertical engines, and could not be used on a stern wheel. The Presidents machinery was designed for a side wheeler.)
OLD NEWS: The PRESIDENT was decommissioned in 2000. A few years ago her fate was in question, as she was for sale by Isle of Capri Casino, resting on a shallow on the Yahzoo River near Vicksburgh, MS. Built in 1934; 280 X 80 X 9.0.
More photos, including one when the vessel was under construction:
Fate of the President Sidewheeler
This video shows the happy workers dismantling the boat and putting it up on the bank.
July 4th 2009 - I'd say it is the President, St. Elmo, Ill, I 70, x 76. Cut up and trucked 100 miles, costing what?
Crank end and cross head connection 40" low pressure, aft end 22" x 40" x 9' stroke, I 70 St. Elmo, Illinois. President cut up, stacked up. St. Elmo, Ill . . . why I 70, x 76.
Crank end, low pressure 40" cylinder, 22" x 40" x 9' President St. Elmo, Ill x 76 - why? "Over a very short time river engines left outside fill up with rain water. Rust freeze split. Capt. Michael sad.
President engines 22" x 40" x 9' stroke big pitman (pitmen) beam lays rotting on the ground. Non condensing by Charles Barnes Shops, Cincinnati, OH.
Original hull narrower and curved - outer hull flat. Bow section cut up side wheeler President. This will be put back together? Elmo, Ill I 70 x 76. Mike Giglio 07/01/09, it is all in pieces. Right side of hull, 296' (315) 395-0831 Mike.
Happy - does Michael look happy? Yep, in a farmer's field, it is all here, hull, 4 decks, etc.: President in St. Elmo, ILL I 70. 07/04/09.
The President - New Location Found
I may have some information on the whereabouts of the sidewheeler - The President. I live in the area where your webpage mentions the last known whereabouts of the boat and I know some of the local people involved. I also enjoy a pastime called geocaching (geocaching.com) in which we seek out places of interest, place a small log or cache at the site and then register it on the geocaching website. It is kind of like a GPS version of a scavenger hunt that takes people to local places of interest. I was thinking of The President and putting a cache at it's location. The last time I saw the boat it had been moved from the tower lake area in St. Elmo IL to a location nearby. I have since gone by that location and noticed the parts for the boat were no longer there. After a little research I discovered it has since been moved from St. Elmo Il to a place near the business owned by the owner, Mr. Dave Campbell. When I did a search using Google maps it looks like I found the location of the decks and material just East of Ad Worx. (goo.gl/KgYWmn) On this map, which seems to be dated 2015 at the time of this writing, you can clearly see the parts of the boat. I plan to travel to the location to verify that the parts are still there and that this is indeed The President.
As for the plans for the boat I plan to talk to Dave and see what his plans are and get permission to place a geocache at the site. I know that five years ago he was looking for financing to restore the boat and dry dock it as a hotel, casino, and entertainment venue. I am not sure if that is still the plan.
I just thought you might want to know and update your page. I hope it is the low spot on a unbelievable restoration story.
Charlie (April 13, 2015)
Screenshot of location. Click here to see it in Google maps.
Photos sent April 14, 2015
I did go by the site today and verified that what I was seeing were the parts of The President. Once I got there, there was no doubt. The wheelhouse is still all one piece and most of the deck plate is still in large pieces that it was cut into for shipping to St. Elmo. I took some pictures. Here is a link to the pictures. [Click here to see Charlie's photos on Google Drive: goo.gl/55G1Le. Or scroll down.]
I stopped by the business of the owner Dave Campbell and talked with Dave about the boat. He indicated that he still plans to re-assemble the boat and use it as an entertainment venue. This made me happy for two reasons. One - the business across the street from where the boat parts are right now is a metal recycler. It would be REAL easy for him to tell them to go across the street and start processing the parts for scrap. Two - for my OWN reasons - I got permission to place a geocache on the site. Dave said at this time he does have "a backer" who is interested financially and a contractor who has done similar projects and is interested in doing the work. What he does NOT have at this time is a good site for the rebuild. He wants a site that is near the interstate highway to make it easy for patrons to find it and to draw in travelers. When I asked him how much of the original material he thought he would be able to use in this reconstruction he indicated that they want to use as much as possible but he guessed it might only be 50% of the original material.
So it looks like The President will not ever be launched on water again but there is a chance she still may come back together for people to experience. That would be a great for people of this area who are a few hours from a river that may have a steam ship and in many cases it would be the ONLY steam ship they would ever see in their lives.
Hope this all helps. I will try to forward the geocache info. once we get it all set up and posted. We will be looking for a good hiding spot this weekend so it may be a week or two before we get that hide in place.
Editor's Note: Thank you, Charlie. The treatment of The President Sidewheeler is a sad example of the effects of time on our history. History does not save itself. Thank you for looking into this and sending an update.
Charlie's photos, taken April 14, 2015:
Two readers recently, coincidentally, sent in photos of their remembrances of the President last week. We thank them for their support. This was a much-loved vessel, now in a dire state.
Shown above, reader's sister and cousin on the deck of the President (the same deck now seen above in a salvage yard).
Photo of the President in better days, sent in by Ben Collier.