Steamboat Documents, Page 6


Babcock & Wilcox watertube STEAM boilers letterhead 1907

Babcock & Wilcox Watertube Steam Boilers letterhead from 1907 Main office in New York City with branch offices in the river cities of Pittsburgh, PA and New Orleans, LA who would have provided boilers for steamboats on Inland Waterways on the Ohio & Mississippi rivers.

Jim Hale wrote us about the preference for watertube boilers in an e-mail in which he advised on a technical question about boilers from one of your correspondents a while back.

"Their ability to work at higher pressures has led to marine boilers being almost entirely water-tube."

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

A watertube boiler (also spelled water-tube and water tube) is a type of boiler in which water circulates in tubes heated externally by the fire. Fuel is burned inside the furnace, creating hot gas which heats water in the steam-generating tubes. In smaller boilers, additional generating tubes are separate in the furnace, while larger utility boilers rely on the water-filled tubes that make up the walls of the furnace to generate steam. The heated water then rises into the steam drum. Here, saturated steam is drawn off the top of the drum. In some services, the steam will reenter the furnace through a superheater to become superheated. Superheated steam is defined as steam that is heated above the boiling point at a given pressure. Superheated steam is a dry gas and therefore used to drive turbines, since water droplets can severely damage turbine blades. Cool water at the bottom of the steam drum returns to the feedwater drum via large-bore 'downcomer tubes', where it pre-heats the feedwater supply. (In large utility boilers, the feedwater is supplied to the steam drum and the downcomers supply water to the bottom of the waterwalls). To increase economy of the boiler, exhaust gases are also used to pre-heat the air blown into the furnace and warm the feedwater supply. Such watertube boilers in thermal power stations are also called steam generating units. The older fire-tube boiler design, in which the water surrounds the heat source and gases from combustion pass through tubes within the water space, is a much weaker structure and is rarely used for pressures above (350 pound per square inch). A significant advantage of the watertube boiler is that there is less chance of a catastrophic failure: there is not a large volume of water in the boiler nor are there large mechanical elements subject to failure. A water tube boiler was patented by Blakey of England in 1766 and was made by Dallery of France in 1780. Marine Their ability to work at higher pressures has led to marine boilers being almost entirely water-tube. This change began around 1900, and traced the adoption of turbines for propulsion rather than reciprocating (i.e. piston) engines - although watertube boilers were also used with reciprocating engines.



Mississippi Packet Co. stationery letter February 1907

Of the 3 sheets of paper that this 1907 was written on I have only scanned the first page and composited the scans of the front and back onto the attached file.

Have transcribed the whole letter below which was very legible for the most part. The "N" word is used so I blurred it in the attached file and only left the first letter and last two letters in the transcript which I figured you would prefer.

The first paragraph is the most interesting.

Handwritten letter on 3 pages paper, horizontal format 5.90 X 8.70 inches

Sent in a 3.60 x 6.60 inch manila envelope 2 cent stamp post marked NEW ORLEANS FEB 23 8 30 AM 1907

addressed to:

Mr. Geo I. Reeves
904 B St. S.W.
Washington D.C.

from "Miriam"

Post marked Received in Washington D.C. FEB 25 3 AM 1907


Mississippi Packet Co.


Long Distance Phone Main 3734

Dear George -

This afternoon I was up on the roof thinking, and it occurred to me that perhaps I spoke in my last letter about watching the paddle-wheel in a way that would make your blood run cold.

The thing has a fascination for me, but I don't take any chances of falling into it. Ever since you educated me last summer on the etiquette of gun-play I've seen the foolishness of taking unnecessary chances or tempting providence by putting yourself in dangerous places just for fun. I was disgust by watching the ship's mate and two young men passengers target-shooting with a .22 repeater right across the heads of the deck-hanks who were at work getting out & sorting up the freight for the next landing. They would laugh and thing a fine joke when one of the "n - - - - e rs" would be walking across near their targets (glass bottles stuck out on the gang plank) and they could care him half to death by smashing a bottle close by him when he wasn't expecting it, - and they didn't always hit the target either. I called them pretty poor. The target couldn't have been over fifty feet away and they had some good sized bottles, big potatoes, etc. for targets.

We landed at Baton Rouge just before noon and had an hour to look around. I took a picture (?) of the State House and we took a ride around town on the street-car. In front a quaint old-fashioned house we stopped to admire a strange shrub in bloom, and a young girl about highs school age stepped out and offered us some flowers. They are Japonicas and look at a little distance like double pink roses, but the petals are thicker and set more regularly, so the flower is more rosette-like.

At New Orleans we were told that two French war-ships were expected soon. I came out in this morning's paper tat one of them came in last evening and collided with a fruit steamer going out, cutting the latter clean in two amidships & sinking her inside of five minutes. No lives were lost and not damage done to the Frenchman. There were a lot of cross-ties on the merchant man's deck, designed for R.R. work in Central America, and many of the crew escaped by using these as floats.

-------- 7 pm Fri Feb 22. New Orleans 1016 Canal St.

We got in about 11 am and went to the P.O. first thing - and I got your enclosing Dr. t.s (?) Mari pries (?)

What did he send you 65 copies for, if only 25 them are free? Does he think we want to buy 40 more copies when I can make all I want? He's trying to soak us.

Alfs & Grandma's. I've "squoze it some, but there's more in it." (Probably a private joke, sounds like it could refer to something "dermatological")

Only five more days till we start home, and about five weeks I suppose until I see you. I wish it was less than five minutes.

Mrs. H. shied at staying any longer in N.O. when she found she must pay $1.50 per night for her and Grace's lodging & meals extra, so she is going out to the Abarrs to visit them for the rest of her time in the south. They're awful nice, cordial people of course but they are our friends not hers, & I hate to have her sponge on them.

As we got off the boat we were in time to see a section of the U.S. coast artillery - stationed here - set up their apparatus and fire - steen (somewhere between 13 and 19?) salutes in honor of Washington's birthday. The French & Italian men-of-war were all strung up with pennants of all colors & they responded politely to the salutes.

We were out at Audubon Park this p.m. & visit(ed) the La. State University, Sugar Exp. station. We saw all the machinery & tasted real molasses & sugar but they were not grinding (probably referring to sugar cane) this time of year.

Supper time - Miriam



Letterhead with typewritten 1931 correspondence from:

operating the

New Orleans, Louisiana dated 28 April 1931

from L.D. Chaffee
Gen'l Freight Agent

to W.E. Weatley
Big Sandy and Cumberland RR in Columbus, Ohio

This was a follow up to a letter to W.A. Weaklin of the BIG SANDY & CUMBERLAND RR that was also from L.D. Chaffee and dated 16 April, 1931 but with a different letterhead:

operating the


This apparently involved a dispute or misunderstanding between Weatley (whose name may have been deliberately misspelled "Weaklin" (which may have been taken as an insult implying that Weatley was somehow considered to be a "Weakling."

The text of the letter above gives some idea of the controversy which originated with some disagreement over an expected response to a "General letter" from the Southern Freight Association dated 1 April, 1931. Which could have somehow been misunderstood as an "April Fool's Joke"(?)

I have not found a reference to a Warrior River but have found the Black Warrior River:

"The Black Warrior River is a waterway in west-central Alabama in the southeastern United States. The river rises in the extreme southern edges of the Appalachian Highlands and flows 178 miles to the Tombigbee River, of which the Black Warrior is the primary tributary." wikipedia


1913 Mississippi River Commission correspondence

Attached type written letter dated 22 October, 1913 from a Major in the Corps of Engineers of the Mississippi River Commission office in St. Louis to an unspecified person at Brown & Anderson in Memphis concerning maps of and changes to the Mississippi River.



We have Captain Charles J.R. Peterson's photo in my collection but thought you'd also enjoy having his thank you note to Erba and Elizabeth Heckel of Riverside, CA.

The sisters sent him the photo one of them had taken of him in August, 1938 during their voyage on the DELTA QUEEN.

The Captain advised them not to take too seriously a news article written by then Chief of Naval Operations (Peterson refers to the office as "the Bureau of Navigation"). William Daniel Leahy took an enviable inspection tour of all boats that navigated on the Mississippi tributaries then wrote a "spoof" article about it. Will have to look for that, it sounds like it would be a "hoot." Surely Fred Way knew about it. I also have a letter from Elizabeth to Erba and one from the girls' mother to Erba, both of which were written aboard the DELTA QUEEN on the same stationery during a 1937 cruise.


Fleet Admiral William Daniel Leahy (May 6, 1875 - July 20, 1959) was an American naval officer who served as the senior-most United States military officer on active duty during World War II.

He held multiple titles and was at the center of all the major military decisions the United States made in World War II.

In 1933, Leahy came ashore in Washington as Chief of the Bureau of Navigation for two years.

He went to sea as a vice admiral, and Commander Battleships Battle Force.In 1936, he hoisted his four-star flag in California as Commander in Chief Battle Force.

He was appointed Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), took the oath of office in January 1937 to serve until August 1939 when he was placed on the retired list.On that occasion, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said "Bill, if we have a war, you're going to be right back here helping me run it."

As Chief of Naval Operations from 1937 to 1939, he was the senior officer in the Navy, overseeing the preparations for war.

After retiring from the Navy, he was appointed in 1939 by his close friend President Roosevelt as Governor of Puerto Rico. In his most controversial role, he served as the United States Ambassador to France 1940-42, but had limited success in keeping the Vichy government free of German control.

Transcript of Peterson's hand written letter:

Sept. 18 - (19)38 [ON BOARD] Delta Queen

Misses Erba & Elizabeth HeckelDear Friends

I have just received your letter, pictures & clipping. I appreciate them all very much and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for them. The pictures are very clear which speaks well for a good camera.

The clipping is the creation of a joke by Capt. Leahy of the Bureau of Navigation, Washington D.C. when he was on an inspection tour of all vessels on the Mississippi river and its tributaries, there is no serious thought connected with it.


Just as I was sitting here writing this letter to you a crowd of 350 people came aboard the Delta Queen at Sacramento from the Western Pacific Rail Road depot to see the boat. I took them around and showed them everything and they all seem to enjoy it. We are still carrying big crowds and the weather is ideal for traveling. The boat is sold out tonight and what a noisy crowd they will be.

Hoping this finds you well and happy.

I am truly yours
Chas. J.R. Peterson
528 Grove St S.F.
or str. Delta Queen Pier 3.

dixie printing plate




Scan of an original letterhead in electrotype format on a printer's block measuring .70 x 5.70 inches attached to a custom sawed backing of wood. "Electrotypes have a copper printing surface backed with stereo metal and are approximately 12 points thick."

A "proof" of the printer's block was created by reversing the negative image to a positive mirror image in Photoshop. Mention of the S.R.T. Co. is made in "The Report of the Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1891- 93" On page 3375 in Appendix 10 - in Capt. Thomas W. Symons', Corps of Engineers report pertaining to the upper Columbia and Snake Rivers, Oregon and Washington in 1893:

"The Snake River Transportation Company reported that their steamer NORMA has done nothing during the past year, with the exception of making one trip of 8 miles from the foot of Bay Horse Rapids to Huntington Bridge, where she still remains tied up. On this trip she carried no freight or passengers."


Exceptional 1875 pass for the Evansville, Cairo & Memphis Steam Packet Co. that also had an had office Paducah, Kentucky. They operated the steamboats ARKANSAS BELLE, the IDLEWILD and the QUICK STEP. There are many pieces of very early sheet music which had the subheading Quick Step (a fast paced step in "social dancing") including the STEAMBOAT QUICK STEP which sounds like an Irish jig.

The term was revived and compressed into one word: the Quickstep in the 1920's as a fast paced dance step to accompany ragtime and jazz numbers which became a musical "craze" in those days.

Love that name "Quick Step" for a steamboat. Reminds me of the ancient Greek "Terpsichore" which is synonymous with "delight in dancing." Terpichore was the goddess of dance and chorus - one of the nine female muses in Greek mythology.


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