Illustrations - Bird's Eye Views
Attached is a detail of sternwheeler and sidewheeler from the lower right quadrant of an 1885 Currier & Ives "Bird's Eye View" lithograph of New Orleans. Looks like the graphic started out as a drawing rendered with charcoal pencil and then color added later during the lithographic process.
Bird's Eye Glassport, Pennsylvania on the Monongahela River
Bird's Eye detail of Glassport, Pennsylvania on the Monongahela River in 1902
Steamer FRANCIS J. TORRANCE on the right.
FRANCIS J. TORRANCE
Sidewheel Excursion boat
Way's Packet Directory Number 2118
Built in Marietta, Ohio at the Knox Yard, 1900 for the Monongahela and Ohio River Transportation Company, with about sixty stockholders and F. J. Torrance president. She ran excursions on the upper Ohio and Monongahela Rivers.
Captain R. M. Boyd was first master, with Aaron McLaughlin, pilot.
She was sold November 1905 to the Coney Island Company, Cincinnati, Ohio; Lee H. Brooks was president.
Bird's Eye of Atchison, Kansas with great drawing of the H.S. TURNER
Detail from a bird's eye view of the city of Atchison, Kansas on the Missouri River in 1869 that was created by Albert Ruger and published by the Merchants Lithographing Co. of Chicago, Illinois.
Albert Ruger (1828 - 1899) was active and lived in Ohio, Germany and the Russian Federation. Ruger is best known for his bird's-eye town views. Many of them were of towns and cities on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers
I have viewed many of Albert Ruger's rivertown "bird's eye maps" and am of course always especially interested in his steamboats.
This detail of the drawing of the H.S. TURNER by Ruger in his Atchison, Kansas bird's eye view has an almost 20th century illustration style to it. This is the absolute best that I've seen so far of the boats that Ruger drew. Some of the others look like they were done in great haste to meet a deadline but this one is his most aesthetically pleasing depiction of a steamboat.
Donald McKay, the artist who illustrated Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and a juvenile biography of Mark Twain among other books that included steamboats, may have derived his way of drawing them in part from drawings like these which is very reminiscent of McKay's work.
Way's Packet Directory Number 2505
H. S. TURNER
Built in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1866
763 tons. Ran in the St. Louis & Omaha Packet Co., Capt. James A. Yore, 1867.
In 1869 ran New Orleans-Bayou Sara twice weekly, Capt. V.B. Baranco, with Allen Jumel, clerk.
Sank at Island 16, Mississippi River, on the night of January 6,1871, Capt. W. J. Rusk.
Captain Rusk observed that this was the seventh boat he'd been on which came to grief and ticked them off on his fingers:
NANNIE BYERS, CREOLE, WESTMORELAND, W.R. ARTHUR, ST. CLOUD, SUNNY SOUTH, and now the H. S. TURNER; several burned. However in two weeks he had the TURNER afloat. He was still running her to New Orleans in 1873.
In 1875 she was a regular Cincinnati-Evansville packet, Capt. W.C. Tichenor, with W. R. Shaw, clerk. On May 7,1876, was at Pittsburgh taking a full load to St. Louis, towing alongside a barge also laden, Capt. Henry U. Hart.
The TURNER was dismantled at Cincinnati, 1877.
LOUISVILLE by Ruger 1876 detail of MARY HOUSTON
Another Ruger item for "Details of steamboats from Bird's Eye Views"
LOUISVILLE 1876 detail of MARY HOUSTON in 1876, the year before she was dismantled according to Fred Way (below)
Bird's eye view of Louisville, Kentucky 1876 by Albert Ruger Charles Shober & Co. & Chicago Lithographing Co.
All of these Bird's eye views are in the Library of Congress digital collection
Way's Packet Directory
Sidewheel Packet Boat
Built at Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1868. 255 x 39 x 7. Engines, 221/2 's- 7 ft. Five boilers.
Built for Capt. L. B. Dunham and others, and ran Louisville-New Orleans.
In 1870 her clerks were H.H. Walker and Len P. Seabrook.
Through tickets were offered New Orleans passengers via Iron Mountain Railroad to St. Louis.
She was at New Orleans for the start of the famed race ROB'T. E. LEE & NATCHEZ in 1870.
Dismantled 1877 and much of her equipment went to building the NEW MARY HOUSTON.
The hull served as a wharf-boat at Monroe, Louisiana and sank there Sept. 2, 1880.
Detail of bird's eye view of Memphis in 1870.
Unidentified boats in Memphis.
Link and screen capture from a Western adventure computer game which includes a steamboat called SILVER STEAM. This "bird's eye" view of the boat at a landing at night looks pretty accurate except that instead of swinging stages suspended above the bow there are inexplicably heavy wooden posts stuck into "hawsepipes" in the hull below the deck. In another view of this graphic in the preview video there is a cutaway showing the central cabin and a portside stateroom. Look forward to seeing the next museum update sometime before January 1st 2015.
The game can be purchased and downloaded from this link:
Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive
Action, Strategy Gamer
Released: Nov 20, 2013
Publisher: Nordic Games
"Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive" is the first strategy game ever to combine a movie-based and story-driven atmosphere of an adventure game with the intellectual challenge of a real time tactic game. Western setting El Paso, Texas and vicinity.
Nice bird's eye view painting of the QUEEN CITY on the the front of the dust jacket for the1943 Farrar & Rinehart edition of Fred Ways' PILOTIN' COMES NATURAL.
the old Mississippi on a rampage
Attached file of an 1875 "bird's eye" view of Muscatine, Iowa to accompany the excerpt from a novel about an adventure on the Mississippi from a book by Butler below.
C A P T I O N:
Ellis Parker Butler was a native of Muscatine, Iowa which he called "Riverbank" in a number of his novels. His first Riverbank novel called "DOMINIE DEAN" (1917) was about grown up characters.
In 1920 came SWATTY, a portion of the exciting first chapter from that book I've included below. The chapter starts off relatively slowly in a classroom but once the boys recklessly venture out onto the Mississippi in full flood stage the action is right out of a big screen special effects movie with hair's breadth escapes and lots of suspense. Very much in the vein of Mark Twain's Tom and Huck stories. Butler also wrote 2 novels about another Riverbank boy named "JIBBY JONES." Chapter 1 of SWATTY tells of near disaster on the river. "Swatty" is the nickname of a boy named "Schwartz" who was probably based on Butler's boyhood friend Fred Schmidt who the novel is dedicated to.
A STORY OF REAL BOYS
BY ELLIS PARKER BUTLER
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN 1920
TO FRED ERNST SCHMIDT OF MUSCATINE, IOWA
THE FAITHFUL COMPANION OF MY BOYHOOD
THIS BOOK IS MOST GRATEFULLY INSCRIBED
from Chapter One
The Big River
(The river) went rushing along, all big and muddy and foamy, and she was half covered with floating stuff—bark and whole haystacks and old trees and boards and boxes and things. It scared a fellow just to look at her. It made me feel the way a little baby feels when a big twelve-wheel mogul engine comes roaring up to the depot platform, only ten times as scary. It was like a whole ocean starting out to rush away somewhere. We just stood and looked at it, and pretty soon Swatty says, "Gosh!" Only he always says "Garsh!" And I said, "Gee!" That was all we said, and Bony didn't say anything. He just stepped backward three or four steps and looked frightened. That's the way you always feel when you see the old Mississippi on a rampage. You feel as if you ought to do something to stop it, and you know you can't—that nobody can. When it gets going it is going to keep right on. So we went down to the levee.
Well, there wasn't any levee! Our levee is just a long down-hill of sand, and it wasn't there. The river had backed clean up to the railroad tracks and was sploshing against the second rail of the outside track, and at the down-river end of the levee it had gone under the tracks and was all over Front Street at the corner. The ferry dock, that was usually away down at the bottom of the levee, was tied right up close to the railroad track, and the ferry was tied in behind the steamboat warehouse, so she wouldn't wash away. The water was clean up over the floor of the steamboat warehouse, too, and nothing looked the way it used to look. It was worth forty lickings just to see how different everything was. We just stood and looked and couldn't believe it.
"Come on," said Swatty, all at once, "let's have some fun. Let's take off our shoes and stockings and have some fun."
We went across the street and asked a man if we could leave our shoes and stockings in his store, and he said we could, and then we went back and began to wade where the water wasn't very deep. There were a few other boys there, wading, and a lot of men standing around, looking at the water. Some would come down and look a while and then go away again, and all at once Swatty said, "Garsh! What if our fathers came down here!"
So we got away from there, quick. We went down below the steamboat warehouse, where the ferryboat was tied, because nobody was apt to come down there, and nobody did. We played on the ferryboat a while and then we got off her, and Swatty saw where somebody had fastened a lot of logs and bridge timbers to the railway track. I guess they were stuff some men had gone out in skiffs to catch as they floated by, before the river got so rampageous. The way they fastened them was to drive a spike in one end and tie a rope to that, and then tie the other end to the railway track. So Swatty said, "Come on! Let's have some fun with these logs and bridge timbers," or something like that; so we did. We walked on them, and some of them would sink under us, and then we would jump to another.
Well, there below the steamboat warehouse the water made an eddy, and the bark and foam and some sticks kept going around and around in the eddy, and pretty soon Swatty said: "Let's ride on these logs," and that was all right, too, because we could sit straddle of a log or a bridge timber and paddle with our feet. So we did that. Swatty cut three of them loose, and we each took a bridge timber, because they didn't turn over like the logs did, and we paddled around in the eddy and played we were steamboats. I was the WAR EAGLE, and Swatty was the MARY MORTON, and Bony was the CENTENNIAL. We played that a long time and then we took boards for paddles, and we could go better that way so we played Indians in canoes, and I got on Swatty's timber and let mine go, which was all right because the timbers would just go around and around in the eddy. But Bony wouldn't get on with us, because he was afraid the timber would sink.
It got along to about five o'clock, and Bony said we had better go home. He was always the first to want to go home. He told Swatty that Swatty would be late going for his cow if he didn't start right away, but Swatty said he didn't care if the old cow never got home. He said it wouldn't hurt the old cow to wait a while, anyway. So we started to paddle around the eddy again, and that time we got almost too far out, I guess, and the end of the timber stuck out beyond the eddy into the swift water.
"Back her up! Quick!" Swatty yelled, and we both tried to back her with our board paddles, but it was too late. The swift water caught her on the side and swung her right out into the current. Gee, but she went! Right away she was half a block away from Bony and I began to cry, for there was no telling where she'd stop. You couldn't expect her to stop this side of St. Louis or New Orleans. So I began to cry, and I stooped down and hung onto the timber with both arms. It was all I could think of to do. But Swatty let on he wasn't scared at all. He tried to paddle toward shore, but there was so much driftwood and stuff floating that he couldn't do it.
"Aw, shut up! Don't be a cry-baby!" he yelled at me. "This ain't nothing. Grab your paddle, and we'll paddle out to the Tow Head and we'll be all right."
The Tow Head is the big island in the river below town, but more to this side of the river than to the other side. It is shaped like a horseshoe, with the two ends down-stream. Me and Swatty knew it pretty well because sometimes we used to row down there. It was all trees except a strip of sand on each side, and in low water there used to be a sandbar below it. It looked like a good idea to get to the Tow Head if we could; but I was afraid to sit up so I just stayed the way I was. But Swatty paddled like a good fellow. I guess the current helped him some. In low water there are two channels, one on each side of the Tow Head, but when the river is on a rampage it don't care anything about channels—it just goes. But it kind of bends below town and I guess that helped Swatty.
He kept yelling at me not to be a 'fraid-cat and to paddle, but I didn't dare. So he paddled, and pretty soon I saw he was going to hit the Tow Head all right. That made me feel better and I kind of raised up on my hands and stopped crying, but when I looked I was scared worse than ever. It looked as if the Tow Head was coming up-stream like a big packet at full tilt. It didn't look as if we were floating down to it, but as if it was tearing up-stream toward us, and it was coming lickety-split. At its nose, where the water hit it, the river reared up in a big yellow wave, like the bow wave of a ship, and was cut into foam and spray where it hit the trees and then rushed away on either side like mad. So I saw Swatty had made a mistake in trying to land on the Tow Head.
There wasn't really any Tow Head to land on. The river was way up in the branches of the trees, and I guess the water was ten feet deep all over the Tow Head, or deeper, and rushing through the trees like it was crazy. But we didn't have time to think much about it. We just had time to be scared, and to see the old Tow Head come rushing and foaming at us, and then it sort of nabbed us, like a cat nabs a mouse. It was all a big swosh of water noises and a big swosh of tree branches being slashed by the water, and then me and Swatty was splashed all over, and the bridge timber banged into two trees and stuck. Swatty went off the timber like a stone out of a sling shot, but I hung on. I've got a black and blue spot inside my leg yet, where it hit the edge of the timber. Right away the water began to surge over the timber like a giant pushing against me, and I saw I couldn't hang on there very long, so I reached up and grabbed a branch of one of the trees and hoisted myself up and got up in the tree. And there was Swatty! He wasn't in my tree, but he was in the tree next below mine.
"Garsh!" he said, and that was all he said right then. So I began to cry. It would make anybody cry to be there, up in a tree, with the whole Mississippi River rushing along under him, so near he could stick his toes down into it. It's an awful thing to think about. You can sit in a tree and look at a creek run under you and you don't care, but when the Mississippi is on a tear it is different. It's the biggest and strongest thing in the world, and there was all of it rushing along right under us, and the tree sort of waving back and forth.
So I cried.
"Aw, shut up!" Swatty said. "What are you crying about?"
Well, I guess we were in a pretty bad fix—worse than we thought we were. No boat there ever was could get at us where we were. No boat could come at that Tow Head the way we did and last a minute, because it would smash against the trees. And even if anybody knew where we were they couldn't get to us. Even if the strongest men in town tried to row a boat up-stream from below the Tow Head they couldn't get to us, because they couldn't row among the trees on it. So I cried.
"Shut up!" Swatty yelled at me. "Ain't it bad enough without you bellering?"
So there we were.
When Bony saw us go out into the river he sat on his timber with his mouth open, and he couldn't even holler—he was so scared—and then he just paddled for shore and jumped off his timber and ran. He didn't know where he was running—he was just running away from there. He was scared stiff. When he come to, he was halfway home, and blubbering and panting, and then he sat down on a horse block and didn't know what to do. He thought we were drowned, sure. So he thought the best thing to do would be to not say anything about it. He was afraid. First he thought he would go home and act as if he had been at school and just stayed out playing a while, and not do anything else about it and let folks find out anyway they could; and then he thought that Mrs. Schwartz would miss Swatty when it was time to fetch the cow, and that she would come over to his house to see if Swatty was there, and he didn't know what else. So he thought he would go over to Swatty's house first and sort of keep Mrs. Schwartz from doing anything like that. So he went. He forgot he was in his bare feet, or that he had ever had shoes and stockings.
When he got to Swatty's house Mrs. Schwartz was on the front terrace in her calico dress and with a birch switch in her hand, looking for Swatty, because Swatty knew what time the cow ought to be fetched home. Bony went up to the steps.
"Do you want me to fetch the cow home, Mrs. Schwartz?" he asked.
"What for should you fetch the cow home?" said Mrs. Schwartz, as angry as could be.
"I thought maybe Swatty was late, and I didn't want to keep you waiting," he said.
"For why should you think he was late?" Mrs. Schwartz asked. She always talked in a funny way, because she was German.
"I thought maybe he was playing down at the river," said Bony. "Lots of boys were playing down there to-day."
"So!" said Mrs. Schwartz. "And he sends you home to get his cow, yes? He could get his own cows. I wait for him."
So then Bony didn't know what to say. He stood around. And after a while he said:
"Maybe he won't come home to get the cows."
"What do you mean?" asked Mrs. Schwartz. "Maybe he's drowned," said Bony. "Maybe him and Georgie went down to the river and—and—"
So then he began to cry, and the first thing anybody knew he had me and Swatty drowned and our bodies floating down to St. Louis or New Orleans, and Mrs. Schwartz wringing her hands and hollering for Herb. So Herb come out on the porch, and Bony told him me and Swatty had floated away on a bridge timber and got drowned, and Herb got Mr. Schwartz out of the house, and then he come over to my house to tell my father, and my father and mother and Fan and all the Schwartzes and a lot of neighbors all went running down to the levee, and took the Bony Highlander with them to show them where we had got drowned from. So that was why Bony didn't go home, and why he got licked when he did get home.
By that time it wasn't dark but it was getting dark. Me and Swatty just hung onto our trees, and that was all we could do; but all our folks and most everybody in town got down to the levee, because Tim Mulligan at the waterworks pump-house blew the alarm whistle. The firemen all came, too, with their hose carts and ladder trucks, but most of the folks just went around saying it was too bad, but that it was hopeless. Even the mayor said it was hopeless. You see, nobody knew we were on Tow Head. They thought we were drowned in the river, like Bony said. So there wasn't anything to do, because it was too hopeless to do anything. The only thing to do was to wait until the river fell, in a couple of weeks or so, and then maybe they'd find what was left of me and Swatty down-river, where we'd be washed up, if we ever was.
Well, that was what everybody thought. My mother cried, and Mrs. Schwartz cried, and I guess most of the women cried, and the men looked mighty sober, and said what a pity it was so hopeless; but what could they do? Everybody was sober or crying, I guess, except Fan, and I guess she'd been so mad at Herb she just couldn't be anything but mad. She was so full of mad that it had to come out, so while everybody was crying and all she just flew up in the air and went over and gave Herb a good raking.
"Well!" she says. "And you call yourself a man! Do you mean to stand around here like a bump on a log and do nothing?" she says. "I'm glad I found out in time what a helpless ninny you are," or something like that. She gave it to him good, I tell you! "This trash," she says—meaning the mayor and the firemen and the city council and everybody—"I don't expect anything else from, but I once thought you had some gumption." Or something like that. So Herb got red.
"Very well," he says, like a man ready to jump off the high school roof, "if you say so, I'll take a skiff and go out upon the river. You can't call me a 'fraid-cat, Fan. You'll never call me that." Or something like that, he said.
"Skiff indeed!" says Fan. "You'd have a nice picnic with a skiff, wouldn't you? Have some sense, Herbert Schwartz. What good is that ferryboat doing, tied up here?"
Well, that was what they done. At first Captain Hewitt didn't want to take the ferryboat out. He said it was hopeless, and that she was an old rotten hull, and that a log would go through her like a needle, and she'd sink, and she couldn't make headway up-stream against such a flood, and a lot more, but with all the folks in town there he couldn't keep that up long; so he went aboard and fired up, and sent up-town for Jerry Mason, who was the regular fireman. By that time it was dark enough for anybody, so Mr. Higgins, the steamboat agent, went and got the two flambeaux he uses when steamboats unload at night, and everybody that had a porch lantern with a reflector got that, and they put them all on the ferryboat. Flambeaux are big iron baskets on iron poles, and the poles are pointed at the bottom so they can be jabbed into the ground or a floor or anything. You fill the baskets with tar and wood and light them. So when that was all ready most of the firemen got aboard with their hooks, off the hook and ladder trucks, and a lot of other men got aboard with pike poles and grapple hooks, and Herb went up in the pilot house with Captain Hewitt, and they set out to find our bodies.
But me and Swatty wasn't bodies yet, we was still folks. We were feeling a little bit better, too, because Swatty found out that the tree he was in was a slippery elm tree, and he peeled off some slippery elm bark and chewed it, and he tossed some over to me, and I chewed that. So we wondered how long a fellow could live on slippery elm bark, and if Swatty would have the tree peeled clean before the river went down. If he did we'd starve to death; but Swatty said that, as the water went down, more and more of the tree trunk would be above water and we could peel it and eat it. So we both felt better, only there was a dead something had caught in the tree branches and when the wind changed it didn't smell very good. It smelled worse than that, even. So about then we began to see the lights come out on shore, and pretty soon we saw the big, smoky light the flambeaux made. We thought it was a bonfire on shore up at town.
Well, I guess we'd have been bodies before anybody got to us, anyway, if we hadn't had some bad luck. Me and Swatty was there in our trees chewing away at slippery elm when all at once something big and black come slamming down onto the point of the Tow Head. It looked like a house, but I guess it was only a cow shed or something like that, that had got floated off the river bottoms by the flood. It came all of a sudden, and before we knew what had happened it hit the Tow Head point and banged into the tree I was on, and the water began to rush over it, and then all at once the tree I was on began to give. It began to topple. It went slow at first and then it went quicker, and it fell over against the tree Swatty was in, and the shed came bumping after it, and then Swatty's tree keeled over, too, and me and Swatty went down under, and the shed come grating over us—right over our heads and pushing our trees down into the water.
All I ever knew was that the next thing I knew I was slammed up against the side of the shed by the water and pushed against it like a big hand was pushing me, and I was fighting to get more out of the water, and then the shed sort of melted and went to pieces and I was holding onto a board and going down with the current between the trees of the Tow Head. Sometimes the board hit a tree, and sometimes it didn't, but I thought I was all over with, anyway, and then right ahead of me I saw the water rushing and roaring up against something.
I didn't know what it was, but it was a log raft the mill folks had put in behind the Tow Head so it wouldn't get washed away. It was in the inside of the horseshoe, and all across the front of it was driftwood and trash and old boards and everything, and that was what the water was splashing against, and before I knew it I was slammed up against it—me and my board. And what I slammed up against was the bridge timber I had been on before, or one like it. If I had slammed up against where it was just bark and driftwood I would have clawed at it a while and then gone under, I guess; but I crawled onto the timber and just lay there and tried to get the water out of my nose. It looked like half a mile of driftwood was jammed in between me and the log raft—jammed in and pushed together the way a flood can jam it and push it.
Well, that timber wasn't any place to be. The water rushed against it and over it, so I was getting ducked all the time, and I put out my hand and tried the drift stuff, but it didn't seem like it would hold me up, but there was one board that was on top of the stuff, and I tried that. I slid over onto it and it seemed all right, so I edged along it, and when I got to the end of the board the drift stuff seemed firmer and I got on my stomach and edged out onto it. It was firm enough, but not very firm, but on my stomach that way I covered a good deal of it at a time, and I sort of wiggled along, and the more I wiggled the firmer it got. It had to, with all the river pushing it, and the driftwood back of it pushing too.
So it took me about an hour to get to the log raft, and when I got to the edge logs, that are chained together, I was all scratched and sore and I just sat down and cried, because I knew Swatty was dead.
And all at once he said, "Hello, Georgie!" and there he was, crawling along the logs toward me. He said he went under when the tree fell over, and that he went under all the driftwood and come up through a hole in the raft. Maybe he did. There were holes enough in the raft. But I didn't get there that way.
Anyway, there he was, and that made me feel a lot better, and we crawled around the edge of the raft, because we wanted to get to the lower side.
Swatty said maybe we could push a log under the outside chain of logs and paddle to shore on it, but I wasn't going to do it. Only I wanted to see him do it if he did it. So we got to the lower edge of the raft, where it stuck out below the Tow Head, and just then along came the ferryboat. She was back-paddling and going as slow as she could, and she looked like an excursion with all the porch lamps and the flambeaux. So me and Swatty hollered, but I guess they saw us before we hollered. Everybody came over on our side and that tipped the ferry over a little, and a lot of the men threw ropes at us and held out their pike poles, and me and Swatty grabbed them and they yanked us aboard. So then she whistled five times and waited and whistled five times again, and so on, because that was the signal they was to make if they found our bodies, and they had found them, but they were alive yet. So then Herb made the captain whistle long and steady without stopping, so maybe they'd know we were alive yet. But nobody knew it, because nobody thought we would be.
Well, the old ferry let out so much steam whistling she couldn't go up-stream. I guess she couldn't anyway. So they ran her into the shore just where she was and tied her to a big tree, and when we got to the road there was Mother and Father and Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz in a livery rig, because they had followed the boat all the way down. And Fan was in the rig, too. So they all pawed me and Swatty over and saw how bad we was scratched and all, and said we was suffering from exhaustion, but we wasn't. We was only played out.
So then Herbert said, "All right!" and started to go away, and Fan said, "Herbert!"
"What is it?" he said.
"I want you to ride up-town with us," she said.
"No," he said, "I'll go back and help Captain Hewitt get the boat in shape. I guess I've done enough to show you I've some gumption."
"But I want you to come," Fan says. "I want to talk to you."
So he came. Him and Fan sat on the front seat and drove and talked, and I guess their talk was all right, because they fixed everything up. And that was where Miss Murphy got left. Just because she wanted to lick Swatty she lost her beau. That's why I say I guess if teachers always knew how their lickings were going to turn out they wouldn't lick us fellows so much. Not when the fellow is the brother of their beau, anyway.
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