Stanley Steamboat of Sacramento
by Nori Muster
Comments from Donna Torres' 2nd grade class:

"I have never read a story about a steamboat. This story was great!" - CJ

"I thought the story was great." - CB

"This was my kind of story." - WD


This story published exclusively for the Sacramento Reads book festival. For more stories and steamboat information, visit the Steamboat Learning Center at All rights reserved, copyright 1999 - Nori Muster.

Back in about 1914 or there about, a couple in California wanted a steamboat to ferry passengers up the river to Sacramento. They owned a barge that was like a small dock. Finally their dreams came true: their steamboat arrived and it changed everything. They divided up the jobs of engineer, pilot, deck hand, captain, steward and purser, and they were both busy all the time. Stanley the Steamboat loved his crew and he loved the barge where he tied up at night. Most of all he loved the water and the sky and he started up the river with great courage.

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After some years the little steamboat began to get weary. Where was that courage he needed so much now? The other boats laughed at him whenever he had to stop for the drawbridge. They cut in front of him all the time and always seemed to be in his way. Stanley hated it the most when they sailed into his wake and got a free ride bobbing up and down.

Stanley wished for a big brother. Heck, even a big sister would help. Stanley felt like he was the only steamboat anywhere in the world. He had never seen another steamboat and knew nothing about them from the writings of Mark Twain. He had never heard jazz, the music that spread across America on the great steamboats of past times.

Stan basically felt like the biggest, ugliest boat that ever sailed the river. He overlooked his gentle turning paddlewheel that everyone else adored so much. He forgot to consider the large enclosed decks where passengers gathered to pass the travel time. Many wonderful things had taken place over the years, but Stanley would have none of it. He felt all alone.

Although alone, Stan could still enjoy the water rippling around his bow, the whistle as it called to oncoming boats—a greeting between two strangers Stanley often felt. One day when the sun was pouring down and the water felt so heavenly, Stanley said, "Old Man River, if there are other boats like me in the world, I would like to see one." That night when he was going to sleep he remembered his request and wondered if he was asking too much.

Old Man River actually heard Stanley's words and smiled, because he knew that the answer was already on the way. Far away in Scotland, two big steamboats were already being built. They were destined to come to the very river where Stanley lived and he would see both of them every day for the rest of his life.


Then it happened. Two gigantic, beautiful, white boats appeared. They were both five stories high, with beautiful, big red paddlwheels. They both called out "Stanley" at the same time and all three boats paddled up and down the river together.


From that day on, all the little boats looked up to Stanley. A few of them apologized for teasing him and they all wanted to be his friends. Stanley accepted their apologies and became a good friend, too. He appreciated the little boats a lot more than before, and he knew that with those big boats around, the river would be a lot more fun from now on.

The End