Book Covers, page 3


Paddle Wheels and Pistols by Irwin Anthony

Illustrated by Manning DeV Lee and Lyle Justis

Published by Macrae-Smith, Philadelphia: 1929

329 pages and 7 x 9-1/4 front and back covers; 1-1/2 inch spine

Basically a historical novel, profusely illustrated, probably intended for a "young adult" audience but would appeal to adults. The history of the Mississippi River from the earliest days of the Native Americans on through the arrival of French and Spanish explorers, Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans, on through the Civil War and later attempts by engineers to tame the mighty stream. Plenty of detailed descriptions of the different styles of craft afloat on the water from flatboats, keelboats and the steamboats. Personalities from all walks of life and eras on the river are the characters. Steamboat races and riverboat gamblers are depicted in the 2 color plates to the left and right of the title page above. An enjoyable book for readers looking for an introduction to the saga and pageantry of the river's history Mississippi and will lead them to Sam Clemens' LIFE on the MISSISSIPPI which is still the classic "eyewitness" treatise on the subject.


The Haunted Showboat (Nancy Drew No. 35)

Front of dust jacket for this 1950's "mystery for young readers" 35th book in the young detective Nancy Drew series: "The Haunted Showboat" by Carolyn Keene

1958 | 192 Pages
Grosset & Dunlap

"Bess and George invite Nancy on a trip to New Orleans, to help their relatives solve a mystery. Their uncle wants to restore an old showboat, the River Princess, but no one will go near it. Mysterious occurrences are making everything believe the boat is haunted. Can Nancy uncover the truth?"


hand out for passengers published by STECKFUS STEAMERS, INC. at St. Louis in 1926. 4 1/4 X 6 inches.


Cornwell's Rob't E. Lee as a Sternwheeler for the cover of RioGrande by Matt Braun

Dean Cornwell's depiction of the ROB'T E. LEE (from his painting of the LEE's the the Race with the NATCHEZ) was modified into a sternwheeler by an illustrator for the cover of the mass marked Western paperback novel RIO GRANDE (previously titled THE STEWART WOMAN) by Matt Braun, published by St. Martin's Press 1998. The boat in Chapter 1 was called SOUTHERN BELLE.

"Tom Stuart takes risks - in war, in love, and in card games, from St. Louis to Mexico. And the hard-drinking, fast-talking steamboat captain - who knows every shoal and eddy of the Rio Grande from the Big Bend to Brownsville, has a dream of building a shipping empire that will span the windswept Gulf of Mexico to rich, exotic New Orleans. But this is a kind of gamble he's never faced before: with a woman to win, a woman to lose, and a dangerous man standing in the way. Now, Stuart is plunged into a fight that will engulf his very soul. And to the winner will go the mighty Rio Grande."


Front cover 7.40 X 10.40 inches of Volume 6 of the 16 Volume Series THE GOLDEN TREASURY OF KNOWLEDGE, 1961

Cover artist Alton Tobey appears to have chosen photos of the GORDON C. GREENE (background) and the GOLDEN EAGLE (foreground) as references for his painting. Tobey depicted the EAGLE's smokestacks as being cylindrical until about a third of the way up from the deck, then they arbitrarily began to taper upwards so they stacks are narrower at the top which I don't recall seeing on a photo or illustration of any Mississippi and tributaries style of steamboat. Outside of that and a rather bilious color scheme this is an interesting illustration.

One of the 28 articles in Volume 6 is devoted to THE FIRST STEAMSHIPS pages 460-63


Chileren of Noah, by Ben Lucien Burman, drawings by Alice Caddy.


Deep Dark River

James Preston is credited with the dust jacket art work for this 1935 novel by Robert Rylee who was born in Memphis and spent most of his early life in Tennessee and Mississippi. The steamboat in the bottom illustration is reminiscent of a 12 June 1869 engraving in Harper's Weekly of a steamboat tied up to a wharf boat on the Ohio River in Cincinnati.

By Robert Rylee

Mose has incurred the hatred of an overseer, and kills the man sent to kill him. Racial pressure prevents Mary Winston from having the case settled out of court, the jury is "fixed", the witness intimidated, and Mose sentenced to life imprisonment.

There he finds happiness, with his patch of earth and his preaching. It is fundamentally the picture of likable, humbly intelligent Mose, never hysterical, taking the downs of fortune in his stride, slowly coming to an understanding of his part. Nothing here of the ""quaintness"" or playfulness usually portrayed in negro stories, but rather their puzzlement, their unaffected dignity, the overtones of a decaying white race.

Published June 26th, 1935
Farrar & Rinehart on Murray Hill, New York

An unusual novel, presenting the picture of the fight for justice for a negro in Mississippi, in the hands of a woman lawyer.



"JOHNNY SMOKER" 2 juvenile novels by Mildred H. Comfort

Two historical juvenile novels by M.H. Comfort about a Mississippi sidewheeler named JOHNNY SMOKER and the adventures of a live aboard family in Minnesota. The "Winter" novel is in my collection and I have scanned a detail of the dust jacket. The photo of the graphic cover binding for "Treasure" is from an online source.

By Mildred Houghton Comfort
Illustrated by Henry C. Pitz

William Morrow and Company
New York, 1943

A story of Mississippi sidewheeler days, and of a winter spent, icebound in the upper reaches, with a family living on board the Johnny Smoker, and cutting a stand of timber, while spare time is spent unraveling the mystery of the clue to how the boat should be loaded for best performance. On board is - in secret - the grandson of the man who built the boat. But it is the family of the Captain, and particularly the youngest daughter, aged ten, who unearth the solution. A good story, with a touch of mystery, good early American background and characterization.

by Mildred Houghton Comfort

Illustrated by James MacDonald
William Morrow and Company, Inc.
New York 1947


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
Please contact for permission for commercial use.*

All captions provided by Dave Thomson, primary contributor and historian.