Moonlight Excursion Boats


Moonlight Excursion Ticket for the Steamer BELLEVUE (Packet, 1890-1912)

August 5th, 1892
Price 35 cents
Steamer BELLEVUE leaves foot of Walnut Street at 7:45 P.M.

BELLEVUE (1890-1912)
Sternwheel Packet
Way's Packet Directory Number 0546
Built at 1890 in Levanna, Ohio
Captain Joe Webb; Louisville and Evansville Packet Company
Ohio River
Built to run between Cincinnati and Bellevue, Kentucky, replacing the Florence Shanks which had proved too small. An electric car line ran her out. After Captain Joe Webb bought her, she towed stone from Moscow, Ohio to Cincinnati. The Louisville and Evansville Packet Company bought her for the Owensboro-Evansville trade. After she retired, her equipment was used in building the towboat RED SPOT. Retired about 1912


Promotional card announcing Moonlight Excursion on Sept 16th, 1919

M.W.A. apparently stands for Modern Woodmen of America, founded in 1883 as "a fraternal benefit society that protected families from financial hardship after the death of a breadwinner."

VERNE SWAIN 1913-1929

Way's Packet Directory Number 5553

Side wheel packet, excursion boat

Built in 1913 at Stillwater, Minnesota by Captain David M. Swain built her to replace the FRED SWAIN.

Primarily an excursion boat with a full length dance floor

She ran excursions on the Illinois River until she was sold to Fred Hornbrook in the spring of 1918.

Captain David Swain died delivering this boat to Pittsburgh in July, 1918.

Captain Hornbrook ran her in the Pittsburgh-Wheeling packet trade.

In 1923 Captain J. Orville Noll ran excursions with her in the Wheeling area for the Anchor Line until March 1927.

Subsequent owners included D. B. G. Rose, Louisville, Kentucky who renamed her ROSE ISLAND and the Pittsburgh Amusement Company, Captain Griffith W. Shaw and others, who renamed her ROOSEVELET in 1929.

Circa 1932 she was called City CITY OF MEMPHIS.


STEAMER SIDNEY and moonlight excursion ad from the Hannibal Labor Press newspaper for June 7, 1919.


Advertisement, Pass and Printer's block for Steamer WASHINGTON

Sternwheel Excursion boat

Top: 1928 Hannibal Lions Club moonlight excursion ticket for Tuesday Sept 5th Center: Original lead printer's block identical to the one that printed the newspaper ad below it.
Bottom: 1921 Hannibal Labor Press excursion advertisement for a Monday, May 16th cruise

Note that Fred Way, Jr. served as one of the pilots aboard the WASHINGTON from 1934 to 1937.

Way's Packet Directory Number 5711;
Built in 1880 as the SIDNEY the hull was made at Murraysville, West Virginia and the balance of construction completed at Wheeling, West Virginia. Rebuilt at Mound City, Illinois in 1921 and renamed WASHINGTON.

Had four boilers from the GREATER NEW ORLEANS; operated on the Ohio River Owned by Streckfus Steamers, Inc., St. Louis and was managed by Captain D. Walter Wisherd, based at Cincinnati, then at Pittsburgh.

The WASHINGTON damaged her bow when she struck the lower lock gate at Dam #8, Ohio River on August 16, 1936, with no injury to passengers. In 1937 she operated part of the season, and was dismantled at St. Louis in 1938.

Captain Coburn Pratt (master); Captain Edgar F. Mabrey (master); Captain C. W. Elder (master); Lee Willis (pilot); Grover Litten (pilot); Homer Litten (pilot); Charles H. Ellsworth (pilot); William I. Weldon (pilot), Phil C. Elsey (pilot); William S. Pollock and Fred Way, Jr. (pilots, 1934-1937).


Hannibal Labor Press ad for excursion aboard the St. Paul on Sept 11, 1918

Sidewheel Packet/Excursion boat
Way's Packet Directory Number 4965
Built in 1883 at St. Louis, Missouri

Her engines were from the ALEX MITCHELL.

She ran St. Louis-St. Paul under the Diamond Jo banner for many years.

In December 1886 she was chartered to Anchor Line and ran St. Louis-Vicksburg.

She was rebuilt in 1892-94 by Diamond Jo and was on the ways at the Eagle yard in Dubuque for over a year.

In 1903 she was rebuilt at Dubuque.

On August 27, 1909 she collided with a moored barge while she was making a landing at Fountain City, Wisconsin.

A hole was created in the hull about 2 feet above the water line.

Damage was estimated at $100.

From 1911-1917 she continued in the St. Paul trade under Streckfus Line ownership.

In 1917 she was rebuilt into an excursion boat for St. Louis.

She went to Pittsburgh in the summer of 1937 and ran Ohio River excursions based in Pittsburgh from 1938-39

Rebuilt and renamed SENATOR at Paducah, Kentucky 1939-40.


FRIDAY, JULY 29, 1898.
TICKETS : : : : 50 Cents

Columbia (1892-1913)
Sidewheel Ferry/Excursion boat

Way's Packet Directory Number 1245
Built in 1892 at Jeffersonville, Indiana at Howard Ship Yard
Her engines and doctor came from the NEW SHALLCROSS.

Owned by Louisville and Jeffersonville Ferry Company
Original price, $17,750.

The fire that destroyed her Jeffersonville, Indiana on January 20, 1913 was discovered by watchman George Canary while the COLUMBIA Columbia was in her winter quarters at the foot of Watt Street in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

The loss was estimated at $30,000


Original excursion boat "broadside" . . . letter press print for a "Moonlight Excursion" sponsored by the Retail Clerks Ass'n of Hannibal, MO to go up river to Quincy, Illinois and back. A lock and dam opened below Quincy in 1938 which would have made these voyages more time consuming after that date.

Way's Directory No. 5500 UNCLE SAM
Sternwheeler Sterling Island, Illinois, 1898, originally the excursion steamer JACOB RICHTMAN.
Prior to 1904 bought by Clat Adams and his brother of Quincy, Ill.. Burned in Quincy Bay, 1904, having been renamed.
Rebuilt and by 1910 was owned by the Missouri River Excursion Co., Capt. E. H. Mattheus, master.
While backing away from the landing at Kansas City, Mo., on May 18, 1910, she collided with a sand barge and sank after having been run ashore.
There were 95 passengers on board but no life loss due largely to John J Pryor, one of the owners who, although he could not swim, stood by and saw all safely ashore.


1.80 x 3.70 inch ticket for a Special Trip aboard "the beautiful SAINT PAUL" for United Dance Clubs opening Excursion and Moonlight Dance that left the foot of Washington Avenue at 8:30 p.m. "rain or shine" on May 9th which fell on a Monday in 1938 so this cruise may have been initiated at Pittsburgh the last year the ST. PAUL was operating there before she went to Paducah in 1939 where her name was changed to the SENATOR.

Note: A 1954 Pittsburgh Legal Journal includes the following: "Washington Avenue was a thoroughfare, which we believe corresponded with the road now extending from the Liberty Tubes through Dormont and Mt. Lebanon and thence on to Washington, Pennsylvania."


Excursion Steamer WASHINGTON promo from August 1937

I was able to narrow down the year that this excursion steamer WASHINGTON promotion referred to by doing a calendar check which confirmed that August 29th, 1937 fell on a SUNDAY, also historically "Swing Music" was not in common usage to describe what dance bands played until the 1930's and a year earlier, on August 21st 1936 the Portsmouth Daily Times ran the following article that confirmed that the WASHINGTON was active on that stretch of the Ohio during the last years of her career:

"The new Montgomery island dam in the Ohio river east of here will be dedicated by United States engineers on Saturday, August 29. Colonel W. E. R. Covell of Pittsburgh, chief of engineers, will head the war department delegation. A steamboat parade, with the excursion boat WASHINGTON as the flagship, has been planned. Numerous towboats, the packet GORDON C. GREENE and scores of small motor craft will participate."


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
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All captions provided by Dave Thomson, primary contributor and historian.