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Remembrance of Lewis Verduyn
October 10, 2019

On Oct 6, 2019, at 8:26 PM, David Thomsonwrote:

I had not heard from New Zealander Lewis Verduyn in quite a while. His site Steamboat Times is a great resource and I hope that it will continue to be available online since his passing. An intuition on my part led me to search for him online today and I was shocked and deeply saddened to discover that he passed on at age 60 on the 21st of August 2019. A ceremony to scatter his ashes in his beloved Clutha River occurred (yesterday) the 5th of October, 2019.

Lewis was a wonderful correspondent and his e-mails were always full of tales of his life, times and many adventures as a river rafter and conservationist. I will miss him and wish that we had met in person.

Message from Lewis 23rd December 2018:
Hello Dave,
It's one of those clear sky and calm mornings here, and I sure hope we get a breeze later, otherwise it will be mighty hot. Tomorrow, Christmas day, the temperature is supposed to be 31Celsius (equivalent to about 88 degrees Fahrenheit) but unofficially, down the river valley, it is usually several degrees hotter. I must get outside before it heats up. When the days are like this, I like to pump my water from the river into my tank in the mornings (using my old circa 1930s electric windmill water-pump), and I also like to check my plantings including my vegetable garden.
I hope all is well with you, and that you have a very pleasant and peaceful Christmas and New Year. Your friend on the riverbank,

Published in Southland Times from Aug. 21 to Aug. 24, 2019

Sadly Lewis passed away at his home in Luggate; aged 60 years. Much loved youngest son of Catherine and the late Jacob, loved brother of the late Roger, a much loved nephew, uncle, and cousin of all his family in New Zealand and Holland. In accordance with family's wishes a private cremation has been held.

Memorial service for Lewis Verduyn was held at 2.00 pm
Saturday 5th of October 2019
The memorial will be in order to pay tribute to the life of a friend, teacher and visionary. Lewis' ashes will be scattered at the river and there will be anvopportunity for those who knew him to say some words. Bring a cup for Manuka Tea.

Red Bridge River Park Charitable Trust

We are fundraising to create and maintain a river park and native recovery centre at the Luggate Red Bridge near Wanaka. The Clutja Mata-Au River Parkway Group, New Zealand, was formed in October 2003 in response to land development issues along the Clutha Mata-Au River corridor, much of which has high scenic and recreational values.

The project aimed to establish a regional river parkway, including a river trail, along the entire 338 km river corridor from Lake Wanaka to the Pacific Ocean. The project was initiated by Lewis Verduyn, a rafting operator on the Upper Clutha Mata-Au who has rafted the river since 1981. Lewis became Chairperson of the project and was known as an advocate for river protection and conservation.

Rafter Clyde For Sale
August 12, 2019

Here's a description of the boat from Captain Don Sanders:

Fifty-three by thirteen-foot authentic stern hydraulic paddlewheeler. Powered by 35 HP Kubota, four-cylinder diesel engine. Full galley, Captain's Quarters and Pilot Bunk. Full bathroom (head) with toilet, shower, and sink. Holding tank. for black water. Potable water tank plus three diesel full fuel tanks and one hydraulic oil tank. New Bow Thruster Tunnel installed last year. Bottom prepped and coated with coal tar epoxy and four coats on Bar-Rust 235 two-part epoxy bottom paint. Marine hull survey completed, June 2018. The CLYDE is on the Middle Ohio River and is accessible to all points wherever the rivers flow. Will consider any and all reasonable offers.

Contact the Captain at - RafterClyde @

Listing on

Nine-thousand photos of the CLYDE are on

My phone # is: 859-445-8912. The first cal anyone will likely need to leave a voice mail.


Editor's Note: Find more about Rafter Clyde at this site: Steamboat Museum.

Footage of Gordon C. Greene Cruise Emerges
August 5, 2019

Our thanks to Shawn Douglass for unearthing this rare 8 mm footage of a steamboat cruise aboard the Gordon C. Greene. Shawn located the footage while going through his grandfather's home movies, then shared it with and He also posted it on Youtube and asked that we share it! Enjoy.




Grieving today for the victims and their loved ones in El Paso and Dayton.
Fight hate speech with love.
Ban civilian use of military weaponry.

Delta Queen in the News
July 4, 2019

The Delta Queen Steamboat was in the news again - two days in a row! "The Delta Queen Will Set Sail Once Again in 2020," by Mackenzie Manley, came out July 2 in Cincinnati's City Beat. The story includes quotes from Phillip Johnson, who along with Cornel Martin and Leah Ann Ingram, make up the Delta Queen Steamboat Company. Read the article:

American Flag   Happy Fourth of July!

Preservation News:
Delta Queen Steamboat Saved and Safe

July 1, 2019

Today Preservation in Mississippi highlighted a recent article about the Delta Queen Steamboat with updates. Read the articles here:

Delta Queen Coming Back to the River
By Elmal Vaney, July 1, 2019

Saved and Safe, Beloved Steamboat Looks Forward to 2020 Launch
By Carson Bear, May 9, 2019

New Exhibit at Steamboats Online Museum
June 28, 2019

Learn all about the history of the sternwheelers of Freedomland USA, a theme park in The Bronx, 1960-1964. Our thanks to Mike Virgintino for sending history and photos from his collection! Click here to see the exhibit: Freedomland at

New Steamboat Exhibits!
June 15, 2019

We just added rooms full of photos to the Steamboat Museum - see the new items:

Steamboat Art - new gallery 1
Steamboat Art - new gallery 2

Steamboat Photo - new gallery 1
Steamboat Photo - new gallery 2
Steamboat Photo - new gallery 3

Also check the main directory for steamboats in all categories - museum index.

These photos are from the private collection of Dave Thomson, primary contributor and historian for

New Twist to a Classic Delta Queen Logo
June 15, 2019


Warren Stitchtenoth created the logo for the Delta Queen Steamboat in the 1960s. Tie dye added at - just for fun.

Delta Queen Steamboat in the News
May 7, 2019

The National Trust for Historic Places published a great article about the Delta Queen, including her history, and the successful effort to get the Congressional exemption reinstated. The article said,

Along with other passionate advocates, the National Trust helped tell her story to lawmakers who had the influence to impact her future.

Phillip Johnson explains that thanks to the 11 Most listing and National Treasure designation, "we were able to get the word out and get people actively calling their congresspeople to save the boat. It made our issue important to representatives."

After years of petitioning local representatives, alerting the media, and asking Delta Queen fans for their support, the steamboat's advocates were successful; the Coast Guard Authorization (S. 140) passed Congress and was signed into law in 2018, enabling her return to operation as an overnight passenger vessel.

With her exemption well in hand, Delta Queen LLC is now in the process of a multi-year restoration. She's in need of over $10 million in repairs, including fire safety updates, more efficient generators, and sewage upgrades, as well as a litany of mechanical updates. Still, according to Johnson, it's important to maintain her historic mechanical character. "What the passengers will hear and see is what the Delta Queen is largely known for," he says.

Read the whole story:


Old Town Sacramento in History
January 12, 2019

Editor's note: we recently heard from KV Bunker, who recognized these photos were taken near Old Town Sacramento. I've traveled there many times to stay on the Delta King Steamboat Hotel - but never picked up the connection.
On Dec 11, 2018, at 6:44 PM, KV Bunker wrote:


I just stumbled upon the wonderful site today and was just poring over the movies section.

Since I was born and raised in Sacramento, I instantly recognized this:


The very rural scene showing the 'Cotton Palace' being shoved toward shore more likely was shot on the Sacramento River side channel known as "Steamboat Slough" - or just as easily a similar stream on the eastern side of the main river, "Georgiana Slough." The main Sacramento is nearly always betrayed by taller California-style levees and a broader water surface, which are aspects quite so typical (especially before the 1940s and '50s) in the paralleling sloughs.


The earlier shot (above) was shot from the Yolo County bank opposite Sacramento, with what we now call "Old Sacramento" (back then "Skid Row") and the Southern Pacific Railroad's waterfront freight dock and railroad freight station in the background, and the CA State Capitol dome in very far right background; the mansard roofed building in far center distance is the landmark 926 J Building, which my late dad formerly served as building superintendent (it's now the Hotel Citizen). I have a hunch the steamer heading downstream mid-river was the old 'Napa City' but would have to study her details a lot more closely.

Old Sacramento got a long head start before Delta King arrived, having been instituted (slowly, at first) when Interstate 5 ripped through. The present Old Sac district was the original intended path for that freeway, and locals fought hard to get it move three blocks east. Sacramento thereby lost other historic buildings and most of the old Chinese district, but at least the original townsite was rescued. It took the establishment of California State Railroad Museum (where I worked about 15 years) and Old Sacramento State Historic Park in the late '70s to really put impetus to get the rest of the district (98% private commercial properties) either restored or reconstructed.

I recall when DK was rescued from her precarious situation near Rio Vista, and had gone on board her the first time after she was raised from the mud. I then joined others that triumphal day when her tired hulk was towed up to the old River Lines dock and went aboard numerous times during the two initial restorations. Of course we all celebrated when the Coyne Brothers finally managed to get DK to the state we now know and love, especially after the replicated sternwheel was installed. I must say how I'd get goosebumps climbing or descending Delta Queens grand staircase in my October 2004 cruise, recalling the same path on the King, and feeling their connection much more vividly thereby. It was fun talking with DQ officers and crew about DK; those who had never been aboard the King were very interested to learn anything they could about the other sister, particularly DQ's captains - one of them a young woman and 4th generation river pilot.

Anyway, cheers for a great site!

Best wishes and Happy Holidays,

K.V. Bunker
Editor's Note: the woman river captain was Mary Greene, see: Mary Greene at

Cincinnati is selling the Showboat Majestic, a National Historic Landmark
January 12, 2019

If you are interested in this boat, read more:

old boats

The 2019 calendars are here!
Click here for historic stern wheel towboats
Click here for Delta Queen


The Senate passed the Save the Delta Queen bill November 14, the House passed it November 27, and the president signed it December 4.

Official statement by the Delta Queen Steamboat Company:

Media coverage: (1) (2)RailwayPreservationNews (1) (2)maritime-executive.comjournaltimes.comnatchezdemocrat.comstartribun

2019 Sternwheel Wall Calendar is Available!
December 5, 2018



Back by popular demand, the 2019 calendar features early photos of sternwheel towboats. The calendar contains 13 large photos printed on heavy card stock, suitable for framing.


This calendar is our best yet, with higher quality images, extra images, and added color throughout!

Each month features a specific boat along with its history, and a complete calendar page, with holidays marked. The boats featured for 2019 include:

LIBERTY (and AMERICA showboat)

The 2019 calendar marks our 18th year of wall calendar offerings!

Calendar Price: $15.95
Plus Shipping: $ 4.50 for one calendar.
(add $1 for each additional calendar)

Please mail check or money order to:
Draftware Inc.
41 Ems W32
North Webster, IN 46555

Online credit card ordering is available on our web site:

Editor's note: we are pleased to offer the Sternwheel towboat calendar featuring historic boats (above) and the Delta Queen calendar, below.

2019 Delta Queen Calendar Now Available
December 1, 2018



On Nov 29, 2018, John Weise wrote:

My new 2019 Delta Queen Calendar is back from the printer.
Get your order in as soon as possible to fully celebrate the 2018 exemption!
This is the twelfth year in a row that it has been published!
The photos were taken between 1989 & 2008.
The price of the calendar $15 remains the same.
The price of mailing an individual calendar is $3 or two calendars for $4.
You can reach me at 513-385-2381 in Cincinnati
Or by e-mail - click here @ jrweise @
Or by snail mail:
John Weise
5552 Dry Ridge Road
Cincinnati, OH 45252-1800

Editor's note: We thank John Weise for his dedication to the Delta Queen, and to his photography of all paddlewheel riverboats that pass through Cincinnati, one of the great Steamboatlandia cities. All photos by John Weise. We urge you to place your order soon, since his calendars sell out every year.

Call Your US Rep. Today for the Delta Queen
November 26, 2018

Tomorrow will be a historic vote for the Delta Queen Steamboat. As your US Representative to vote YES on the Coast Guard Authorization bill, S 140, which includes provisions for the Delta Queen. The bill passed the Senate last week.

Following is a press release from the Delta Caucus:
"Delta Queen Movement on the Verge of Historic Victory—Contact US House for Delta Queen Bill Set for Vote tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 27"

CONTACT: Lee Powell, Director, Delta Caucus (202) 360-6347

Delta Queen supporters are on the verge of victory in our decade-long movement to allow the historic Delta Queen to once again travel America's rivers—the US House votes tomorrow on the Delta Queen (DQ) bill. Contact your US representatives and urge passage of the bill.

The Delta Caucus and other DQ supporters have been advocating for this legislation ever since the last required Congressional exemption lapsed in 2008—it has taken 10 years but we can now see victory near. DQ supporters need to continue doing our due diligence in backing the bill today and up until tomorrow's vote.

NOTE: The Delta Queen has an exemplary safety record, extensive upgrades will add new boilers, generators, rebuild the paddlewheel, complete a system of state-of-the-art safety requirements, create additional exit routes, and the Coast Guard has to give a rigorous safety inspection (as it does all publicly operated vessels) before the DQ can travel one inch off the dock. Allegations about a "terrible fire hazard" are simply bogus.

Opponents often make the false claim that the boat is entirely made of wood, but this is bogus: the boat consists of 75% steel and other non-combustible materials. The wooden portion is only about 25% and will be further reduced. The boat has a steel hull and state of the art safety systems.

As expected, the bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate by a vote of 94 to 6 on Nov. 14.

The bill also adds a requirement for replacing 10% of combustible materials each year, thus adding additional layers of safety to a boat that was operated safely for decades on America's rivers. Again, if the Coast Guard finds any safety issue, they will prohibit the boat from traveling until the issue is resolved, in the unlikely event that there is any issue after all the upgrades are in place.

The Delta Caucus asks our supporters to contact your US House representative and urge passage of S. 140, the Coast Guard Authorization Bill including language that will allow the Delta Queen to return to overnight cruise service, for a vote on Tuesday. The bill will require a 2/3rds vote for approval, but prospects for passage are strong.

The exemption is for the Safety of Life at Seas (our italics) Act of 1966, which as the name clearly states was intended to apply to ocean-going vessels, not a riverboat like the DQ which is never more than a few minutes from land.

The boat is a National Historic Landmark, and the bill has been endorsed by the International Seafarers Union, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the American Maritime Officers, and many other historical preservation organizations.

Allowing the DQ to resume its travels will preserve a national historic treasure, educate many travelers about the history of steamboating across America's heartland, promote appreciation of our region's natural resources with the first-hand exposure to the beauty of the region by travelers, create about 150 jobs, and generate tourist dollars in the ports where it stops.

Most importantly, passage will reward Cornel Martin and his team's exemplary efforts to go above and beyond the call of duty by adding so many layers of extra safety precaution on the boat.

This does not require any taxpayer funding, but merely legal permission for the boat to travel again.

We commend the many Members of Congress in both Houses who have championed this legislation, including Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Rep. French Hill (R-AR), Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Rep. R-Ohio, and the many other members of Congress (too numerous to list here) who support this bill.

The center of opposition to the bill is led by a competing steamboat company, American Cruise Lines that operates out of offices in Connectict and also owns a shipyard in Maryland. They have complained that if the DQ is allowed to travel again it will harm their business, although there has been a major resurgence of steamboating on the Mississippi and its tributaries in recent years and there is plenty of opportunity for a number of steamboats on our rivers.

American Cruise Lines' lobbyist has also made erroneous charges about the safety of the DQ, in spite of its excellent safety record over 80 years of being safely operated on America's rivers and the many new layers of safety requirements in the legislation, the program of renovations planned by Cornel Martin, and above all the fact that the Coast Guard has to inspect the boat before it travels and will prevent it from traveling if any safety defect is found, until the issue is resolved.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Please note that the Coast Guard inspectors' actions in approving the boat for travel over the decades was the true meaningful statement about the boat's safety, and their inspections in the future if the bill passes will be the definitive action on this subject.

It is certainly true that when bureaucrats in Washington, DC at the US Dept. of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard of any other agency for that matter who know little or nothing about the DQ are asked slanted questions such as "There is this entirely wooden, old boat that is a terrible fire hazard called the Delta Queen. Do you think it should be allowed to travel on America's waterways again?" Of course they will say "No." But they are not informed about the facts of the boat's safety record and the new upgrades, and again the only actors who matter are the Coast Guard inspectors on the rivers who do the actual inspections.

American Cruise Lines has several boats on the river now and one in the Pacific Northwest. Their lobbying firm is Blank Rome. Their CEO, Mr. Charles Robertson has spent well over a half million dollars over the last several years with the Blank Rome firm trying to defeat any effort to pass legislation to allow the Delta Queen to return to overnight cruise service.

Good news Steamboat Delta Queen
November 15, 2018

Yesterday the U.S. Senate passed the Coast Guard bill, including provisions for rescuing the Delta Queen. Following is a statement from the Delta Queen Steamboat Company:
Today we're one step closer to returning the legendary DELTA QUEEN back to America's rivers with the passage of the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill passed in the U.S. Senate today. Special thanks to the tireless efforts by Senators Blunt and McCaskill for making this happen!

Now the bill will go before the U.S. House of Representatives. If you want to see the DELTA QUEEN sail again please make sure your congressional representatives know you want them to vote YES on the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill!

#FullSteamAhead #SavetheDQ
Following is a statement from Senator Roy Blunt:

Nov 14 2018

Blunt-McCaskill Bill to Get Historic Delta Queen Back on the Mississippi Cruises Through Senate

WASHINGTON - Missouri Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill today announced that their legislation to bring the historic 1920's riverboat Delta Queen back to the Mississippi River passed the Senate as part of the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill. The legislation reinstates a decades-long exemption to allow the boat to operate from its new home port of Kimmswick, in Jefferson County - creating jobs and strengthening economic growth and tourism. The Coast Guard Reauthorization bill now heads to the House and, if passed, will be on its way to the president's desk.

"I'm thrilled the Delta Queen is another step closer to making its way back to Missouri and once again cruising the Mississippi," said Blunt. "Getting the Delta Queen, one of our National Historic Landmarks, back in full operation will create jobs, boost economic growth, and strengthen our state's tourism industry. I'm grateful to all those involved in helping to bring the Delta Queen back to our state and look forward to seeing it at its home port in Kimmswick."

"We're finally full steam ahead to get the Delta Queen back home to the St. Louis region where she belongs," said McCaskill. "Buoyed by bipartisan support, her return means tourists up and down the Mississippi can once again enjoy the rich history of one of our historic landmarks, and will give Jefferson County an infusion of jobs and economic growth."

According to the Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation, returning the Delta Queen to the St. Louis area will create more than 170 local jobs. The Delta Queen is expected to begin and end a number of its cruises each year in Kimmswick, and will visit more than 80 other ports in the United States.

Built in the 1920s, the Delta Queen is an historic, wooden American steamboat that carried dignitaries (including three U.S. Presidents) and thousands of other passengers through the tributaries of the Mississippi River. The boat also served as a naval ship during World War II.

For more than 40 years, the Delta Queen was exempted from a law passed by Congress regulating passenger vessels carrying 50 or more passengers overnight on domestic U.S. waters. That exemption expired in 2008. The bill passed by the Senate today restores the long-running exemption and requires the Delta Queen, which is fully compliant with all other Coast Guard safety regulations, to annually modify at least ten percent of the wooden portions of the vessel's superstructure to comply with the federal safety law requirements.

The Delta Queen is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is classified as a National Historic Landmark. In 2013, it was designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

More articles: (caution: Roll Call dislikes the Delta Queen and this articles contains anti-Delta Queen lies) •

S.S. Columbia Event

Tue, October 23, 2018
7-10 PM EDT

Montauk Club, 25 8th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

This October, the SS Columbia Project is hosting its Fall Supper Soiree at Brooklyn's Montauk Club, gathering together to celebrate the season. A limited number of discounted Early Bird tickets are on sale now for $125 a ticket. Included in the price of ticket are dinner, an open bar, and live vintage jazz with Jason Prover and the Sneak Thievery Quartet. Don't miss this very special evening supporting the restoration of SS Columbia at the beautiful and historic Montauk Club. This is certain to sell out, so order your tickets now!

click here for tickets -

SS Columbia is the oldest remaining excursion steamboat in the United States, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, designated as an historic landmark in 1992, and in service from 1902 to 1991. Our goal is to bring her to the Hudson River and revive the grand old tradition of steamboats on the Hudson. Here, she will become a moving historic and cultural venue.


The Montauk Club.

P.S. Ryde Trust
Help Save the P.S. Ryde
August 28, 2018

You can help get the word out on the work to save this venerable British steamship built in 1937. Sorry, no wheel, but let's be fair! All steam vessels deserve preservation. Saving the past makes the present and future richer. Go to the P.S. Ryde Trust website to learn the history of this ship, and the contemporary efforts to save her.

From the timeline:
P.S Ryde 2018 - ??
At present Island Harbour and our Director Lisa-Marie Turner are in current talks and preserving this historic Solent paddle steamer , we hope that we can update this with good news soon. watch this space :-)
Go to the site:

Hidden Paddlewheel History
July 27, 2018

Hi - Great website. My granddad lived most all his life on the Mississippi in Burlington, Iowa, and I just developed an interest in the rivers and what all took place on them in this country. I've been involved with the mining industry in the U.S. for over 40 years now and yes taking a little time to stop by all the museums out there is very fun.
Best regards,
Grant B.

Editor's note: Grant found evidence of a long-gone paddlewheel boat in Utah. The Cliff Dweller is remembered in the Powell Museum. To learn more about the Cliff Dweller, visit the Powell Museum -, and there's a photo of a model of the boat at this blog:

Photo from

The model display offers the following history of the Cliff Dweller:
Stripping off the "City of Moah's" cumbersome superstructure and converting her to a stern-wheeler steamboat, Lumsden renamed his boat the "Cliff Dweller" in 1906 and turned to the tourist trade. She proved no more successful, however, so she was taken to Great Salt Lake the following year.
BOAT #2 - Grant found memories of another long-deceased paddle wheeler, the Bertrand, on display at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge





Model of the Bertrand and artifacts recovered from the boat. Note: The kerosene lamps were all recovered from the wreck of the Bertrand on Missouri River between Iowa and Nebraska. To learn more about the artifacts excavated from the Bertrand, go here:

The River, by Don Sanders
June 29, 2018

Ever since last December, the Northern Kentucky Tribune has carried a weekly installment from Don Sanders' memoir of his life on the river. Now, with express permission from the NKyTribune, the series is archived at click here to read The River.

The NKyTribune said:
Captain Don Sanders is a river man. He has been a riverboat captain with the Delta Queen Steamboat Company and with Rising Star Casino. He learned to fly an airplane before he learned to drive a "machine" and became a captain in the USAF. He is an adventurer, a historian and a storyteller. Now, he is a columnist for the NKyTribune and will share his stories of growing up in Covington and his stories of the river. Hang on for the ride—the river never looked so good.


The series is ongoing, so will collect Don's river stories for our archive.

Elinor Steamboat
May 15, 2018

One of our readers sent this photo, given to her by her aunt. It's the Towboat Elinor, built in 1905, and worked in the St. Paul area. We could not find any additional information. We're looking for information about the Elinor, including where this photo may have been taken. If you can help, please contact* We will pass the information along to Bonnie.

ElinorSteamerShipAuntVBonnieHamerphoto received an immediate reply from the Howard Steamboat Museum and sent the information along to Bonnie:

On May 17, 2018, at 2:12 PM, wrote:


The "ELINOR" towboat in the picture on your website answered a question for us this afternoon at the Museum. We have a picture of her bow showing alongside an ACOE Maneuver Boat on the ways at the Howard Yard. We didn't know the date. After further investigation we determined the boat in our picture is your ELINOR. Further, we found records to indicate she was at Howards in 1924 where she received a new steel hull. She was built in Jeffersonville in 1904. Not by the Howards. Probably the Sweeney or Barmore yard built her. Her home port was Rock Island, IL and she was owned by the Corps of Engineers.
The Corps sold her in 1940 and she was moved to Vicksburg, MS where she ran for several more years till scrapped.

Travis C. Vasconcelos
Administrative Assistant

1101 East Market Street, Jeffersonville, IN 47130 (812) 283.3728

2002 Steamboat Logo
February 19, 2018

Back in 2002, my mentor for building websites made this graphic for me in Flash. We never did anything with it, then after that it was lost on a disk for sixteen years. The other day while loading up a new hard drive, and tossing out old CD-Rom disks, the thing turned up! It brought back fun memories - and now it's online just for fun.


Here's a screen shot, but to see the original, click here: 2002 Steamboat Logo. (Only works with Flash Player.)


Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate
Reviewed by Nori Muster

This novel tells the haunting tale of five children who grew up in the Depression era on a shantyboat near Memphis. The Foss family was poor, but their parents made it work, and provided love and a feeling of security to the children. However, one night when the parents needed to rush to the hospital to welcome another baby, authorities kidnapped the children and put them in an orphanage.

The oldest of the children, twelve-year-old Rill Foss, tells the story of the children's journey. The Tennessee Children's Home Society included strict and cruel caretakers, and child abuse. My own father was orphaned in 1934 and spent part of his ninth year in an abusive Chicago orphanage. His older half-brother rescued him and got him into a better situation in a foster agency. Although my father had aunts and uncles on both sides, during the Great Depression, people were not looking for more children to support. The painful history of Rill and her siblings is beautifully told.

In alternate chapters, we meet Avery Stafford, a woman who lives in current times. She's born into a rich Southern family and her father is a politician in the midst of a re-election campaign. Avery expects she will follow in her father's footsteps. She takes up temporary residence with her parents in Aiken, South Carolina, to help her father through a health crisis.

While there, Avery strikes up an unlikely friendship with May Crandall, an elderly woman who has a mysterious connection with Avery's grandmother. Further, Avery has a connection to the Depression Era orphans that comes to light at the end of the novel. The fun is in the pursuit of the truth, which Avery pursues with a local man who inherited all the secrets from his father, a private investigator who "finds people."

The book is a matter of finding identity, holding onto identity, and realizing roots are precious, and truth is sometimes hard to bear. Due to her privileged background, Avery looks down on poor folks who grow up on shantyboats, and cannot exactly accept that her own roots may be much different than she was led to believe growing up. While on the track for the truth, she comes to realize she is torn over whether she really wants to know the truth.

The novel is based on a true story, a story shared by many who grew up as orphans during the Depression Era. The author, Lisa Wingate, is a masterful storyteller with more than twenty novels to her credit, and multiple awards. She says the history of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children's Home Society inspired Before We Were Yours. She explains,
I wasn't familiar with the scandal surrounding the TCHS orphan houses of the 30's and 40's, but after stumbling across the story, I was shocked and horrified that such a thing was possible in this country and not that long ago. I wanted to tell the stories that hadn't been told - those of the thousands of children who became caught in Georgia Tann's web. I did travel for research. Visits to Memphis were invaluable, as was spending time at Mud Island and along the river, learning about the life Rill and her siblings would have lived on the family's shantyboat before they're taken to the TCHS orphan house.

We also thank Lisa Wingate for contacting us during her historical research, and we were glad to share pictures of shantyboats at this site in the Dave Thomson Collection.

Selected Mississippi Queen Blueprints Now Online
January 24, 2018

For years I had a link to a set of 253 Mississippi Queen blueprints (now offline: These were the real thing. At the time, I got the impression they wouldn't be there forever, so I made copies. After the link died, I received the following request:

On Apr 6, 2017, at 4:40 PM, AE wrote:

Ms. Muster,
I would like to inquire about the blueprints of the MQ. Would it be possible for me to get a hard copy or digital copy of the plans? The MQ has a special place in my heart. I was seven when I witnessed her first arrival and commissioning at Cincinnati in 1976. So sad that she's gone. Do you know what eventually became of her hull?
Thank you!
Anthony Eichhorn

Unable to email the large files, I eventually sent him a disk. In exchange, he promised to go through the blueprints and choose the best ones to post at the site. About a month ago he sent me his choices, and now they're posted! Click here to see selected blueprints of the Mississippi Queen.

2018 Steamboat Calendars are Here

Make 2018 a steamboat calendar year!
Two available:
Delta Queen - click here & Sternwheel Towboats - click here
or scroll down

Mississippi Queen Memories
December 29, 2017

Earlier this week on Facebook, Travis Vasconcelos posted several photos from the Mississippi Queen Steamboat's first trial run. The first leg was down the river, which went fine. I arrived in time for part two - going back up the river to Cincinnati with the help of a towboat. One of the photos from Travis is this one of my dad and Betty Blake. Dad was just two weeks into his fiftieth year at the time.


Betty Blake and Bill Muster on the starboard wing of the bridge, Fourth of July, 1976, during the first voyage of the Mississippi Queen Steamboat. To access the Mississippi Queen Steamboat page at this site - click here.

Ask Your US Representative to Save the Delta Queen Steamboat
December 12, 2017

A new article in the Louisiana Weekly outlines the continuing struggle to pass HR 619 in the House and save the Delta Queen Steamboat. As the article reports, American Cruise Line owner Charles Robertson is lobbying against the Delta Queen bill. It's difficult to understand why a two hundred passenger ship poses any threat to his company, which is building multiple gigantic cruise ships for the Mississippi River system.

Rather than fight the Delta Queen, Robertson would be better off to embrace the historic steamboat that will draw positive attention to river cruises on the Mississippi. Read the article, then ask your US Representative to call for a vote on HR 619. Read now:

Model Photos
December 4, 2017

Photos from John Fryant show one folk art model and one that's a scale model of a real boat. Here at we love 'em all!


The Queen City folk model.


The Betsy Ann scale model.

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