Steamboat Engravings - Page 3


Heckraddamfer (in English translates to Sternwheeler) 1884 German engraving.

steamboat Illustrated Weekly cover

On the cover of the January 12, 1884 Frank Leslies' Illustrated Weekly. Not the greatest illustration of a pilot house. Kind of a skimpy pilot wheel. Lumpy human figures. Whoever did the original sketch may have been poorly served by the engraver, hard to tell.


"VIEW OF ST. BONIFACE" with the Sternwheeler INTERNATIONAL on the Red River of the North from the CANADIAN ILLUSTRATED NEWS 20 July, 1872, page 36 recently added to my collection The photo the INTERNATIONAL at Fort Garry, Manitoba on the Red River is from the La Crosse collection. The engraving from a drawing resembles a cartoon of a toy steamboat compared to the photograph of the same boat.

Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Saint Boniface is a ward of Winnipeg southwest of the city of Winnipeg on the Red River of the North in the Province of Manitoba. With the founding of a Roman Catholic mission in 1818, St Boniface began its role in Canadian religious, political and cultural history - as Mother Parish for many French settlements in Western Canada. St Boniface was incorporated as a town in 1883 and as a city in 1908. In 1971, St. Boniface was amalgamated, along with several neighboring communities, into the City of Winnipeg which is the largest city in Manitoba and is the capital of the Province.

A Double-decked sternwheeler
Not listed in Way's Packet Directory

The INTERNATIONAL's machinery and much of its materials came from the FREIGHTER, a Mississippi steamer that had been stuck in Big Stone Lake as a result of an ill-fated attempt to sail it from the Mississippi via the Minnesota River to the Red River in 1860.

The Burbank brothers bought the wreck of the small flat bottomed, square-bowed boat, dismantled it, and transported the salvaged pieces to Georgetown, Wisconsin on the Red River where a new hull was fashioned out of wood cut along the banks of the Red River.

The INTERNATIONAL was specially designed for Red River navigation, but was rather too large to be handled comfortably on the upper reaches of the river.

She was launched in the Spring of 1862.

She was 137 feet long, with a 26 foot beam. She weighed 133 tons. Draught 15 inches light and 27 inches full.

Cost $20,000. Two boilers.


Norman W. Kittson (master, date unknown)
1864-1871: Captain Frank Aymond (master)
1874/1875: Captain John Seger (master), Chris Cook (mate)
1874: Jim Lauderdale and W. Griggs (pilots), D. Barrett (steward), Fred Gurion (engineer), J. Claremont (engineer)
1875: L. Cornick (steward), John Cavenaugh and O. Provencha (pilots)

Crew of 22 deckhands.

The INTERNATIONAL had a narrow escape from disaster when the ice moving downstream in the spring snapped its hawsers, and it was carried down past Georgetown until some obstacle luckily checked its course and it could be secured to the bank again.

Operated on the Red River of the North in 1862 between Georgetown and Fort Garry.

The Red River newspaper, The "Nor'-Wester" described the INTERNATIONAL's first triumphant arrival at Fort Garry on May 26, 1862: "She is really a grand affair. Her size and finish would make her respectable even amid the finest floating palaces of the Mississippi."

The Sioux uprising of 1863 prevented her from running. Low water prevented her operation on the Red until 1870. In that year she made several trips.

In February 5, 1864 the Hudson's Bay Company bought the INTERNATIONAL to transport the company's goods from Georgetown to Fort Garry.

Ownership was transferred to the Red River Transportation Company 1871-72.

Carried freight and passengers, including the first group of Mennonite settlers in 1874 and the first Icelanders in 1875.

In 1876, according to a contemporary newspaper report, Minnesota sent goods to the value of $802,400.00 into Manitoba, and forwarded over five million pounds of bonded goods via the Red River Transportation Company's steamboats.

Manitoba sent to Minnesota goods, chiefly furs, valued at $794,868.00.

The garrison from Pembina paid a good-will visit to Winnipeg in 1877, arriving on the INTERNATIONAL.

The completion of the railway connection from St. Boniface to the American roads in 1878 virtually ended the rule of the steamboats on the Red River including the INTERNATIONAL, although they did not disappear from the river immediately.

The INTERNATIONAL was dismantled at Grand Forks, North Dakota in 1880.

Source material:

McCarthy, Martha. 1987 report for the Manitoba Historic Resources Branch, Steamboats on the Rivers and Lakes of Manitoba 1859-96

Marion H. Herriot. "Steamboating on the Red River" & "Steamboat Transportation on the Red River" Minnesota History, Vol. 21 (September, 1940)

Steamboats On The Red: A documentary that was televised and website dedicated to it was funded by the North Dakota Humanities Council, the Minnesota Arts & Culture Heritage Fund, The Winnipeg Foundation, and by the members of Prairie Public.


Red River 1859-1869 Through the Eyes of a Nor'Wester

FrankLeslies SCIOTO & JOHN LOMAS 15 July1882 HALF size

Frank Leslie's Weekly
15 July, 1882
Scan of Front cover and transcript of story from page 327


The most serious disaster which occurred in the country on the Fourth of July was the sinking of the excursion steamer Scioto, with a party of 700 pleasure-seekers on board, by a collision with the steam-tug John Lomas, on the Ohio River, near Mingo Junction, Ohio, shortly after sunset. The Scioto had started from East Liverpool with her load of excursionists at half-past six o'clock in the morning and gone down the river as far as Moundsville, where she arrived about half-past one in the afternoon.

After lying there about two hours the steamer started back, and all went well until about eight o'clock, when she was near Mingo Junction. At this point the steam-tug John Lomas was seen approaching, coming down the river at the rate of fifteen miles per hour. Both boats whistled to indicate which course each would take, but there was some misunderstanding of the signals, and they ran into each other almost at full speed. The Lomas struck the Scioto on the port side, fifteen feet from her bow, and made a large hole, through which the hull filled rapidly and sank at once. The scene which ensued was full of horrors. The hundreds of excursionists were thrown into the water, which a survivor describes as looking black with struggling human beings, the expression of whose faces was frightful beyond description. Mon, woman and children were crying piteously for help. The Lomas at once made for shore and unloaded her passengers, after which she did all that was possible to save the struggling victims of the disaster. The heaviest loss of life occurred among the people on the lower deck, who were carried down with the sinking steamer. Eighteen dead bodies were found and identified during the first two days after the disaster, and forty-seven persons were known to be still missing, so that the total loss of life will probably reach at least sixty-five. Large crowds of people visited the scone of the disaster during the past week, and the sights of distress and grief among those looking for lost relatives and friends were most touching. Captain Thomas, of the Scioto, has become insane from grief, and is closely guarded lest he should injure himself. He is constantly calling for his son, whom ho says he murdered. A large share of the responsibility for the disaster rests upon the owners of the Scioto, for the steamer was only authorized by law to carry seventy-five passengers, while she is known to have had at least 700 on board when she sank.


SOLDIERS CLEARING A WAY THROUGH THU SWAMPS FOR A TRANSPORT. - From A SKETCH by H. Lovie. Island No.10 is in latitude. 36.30, where the Mississippi makes its great double curve. It was heavily fortified and protected by swamps on the east, and the batteries of New Madrid, Mo., was thought to command the river. New Madrid was captured by Pope's army (March, 1862), Foote's gunboats succeeded in running past the island, some transports forced their way through the swamps behind the island, and the cutting of a canal across the bend, enabled the Federals to surround and capture its garrison (April 7) without a serious battle. As published in THE CIVIL WAR IN THE UNITED STATES on page 92


Way's Packet Directory Number 5623
Sternwheel packet boat
Built at Belle Vernon, Pennyslyvania in 1856.
175 tons.

Ran Paducah-Eastport on Tennessee River prior to the Civil War Seized at Paducah on August 21, 1861, by U.S. gunboat LEXINGTON for engaging in traffic with the enemy and for flying the Confederate flag. Towed to Cairo, Illinois. Burned at Duck River, Tennessee on Sept. 3, 1862.


This is one of the weirdest early engravings I've ever seen of a steamboat

The somewhat "Gothic" treatment makes the boat look like the boat had been to Hell and back in the style of French artist Gustave Doré French: 1832 - 1883)

Doré had a flare for portraying demonic subjects in his illustrations for the Bible (1866), Dante's Inferno (1857) and Milton's Paradise Lost (1866) as well as illustrations for many other works of literature and also the "real" world such as London, England (1872) in which he included the squalor of its most impoverished neighborhoods which dismayed critics of the time who weren't used to seeing the seamy side of Europe's big cities represented so unflinchingly.

In 1853, Doré was commissioned to illustrate the works of Lord Byron which could have been when he or a student of his could have possibly produced this image of the CINCINNATI, 1850-55. This is from the Murphy Library collection, Negative number 7406.

1865 illustration of loading cotton on steamboats

Sept. 23rd, 1865 Gleason's Pictorial illustration of loadin' cotton bales down yonder in Alabammy . . .


Etching of 1928 Race between CINCINNATI and AMERICA

"The Steamboat Race" between the steamers CINCINNATI and AMERICA, 19 August 19, 1928 from Louisville to Rose Island depicted in this detail derived from a signed etching by the artist Otto August Kuhler. Tje original including margins measures 9.40 x 12.80 inches and one is offered for sale on ETSY:

"OTTO AUGUST KUHLER (American, 1859-1909), 'The Steamboat Race, 1928,' original etching, pencil signed."



Engravings from France 1855 Bateau à vapeur. "LE CHAMOIS"





Bateau à vapeur. (steamboat)
Bateau roues à aubes.(paddle wheels)
Plan Brevet Original, Armengaud (patent)
"Publication Industrielle"

Frank Leslie's Illust News. 16 August 1879 steamboats Missouri River 40 percent for NORI

1879 Frank Leslie's Newspaper illustrations of 2 steamboats which must have transported troops, weaponry and other supplies (the one on the left is the GEN'L SHERMAN) for a U.S. Army expeditionary force under General Miles that was in pursuit of Chief Sitting Bull during an "Indian Campaign in Montana" on the north side of the Missouri River.



In the summer of 1861, the Confederates in Tennessee and Southern Kentucky began to push their lines northward, with the intention of securing control of the Mississippi shore on the east.

The port of Cairo, at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi, had been fixed upon for a military depot and rendezvous of the Union army.

The erection of Fort Holt added to the defenses of Cairo and the work was pushed forward with great energy by General Fremont, who at that time commanded the Department of the West.

It sheltered a large garrison of infantry- which, during Grant's attack on Columbus from the west shore, advanced upon that port from the east.

The Confederates were afterward forced to evacuate that region and Fort Holt was never subjected to attack. Page 81 THE CIVIL WAR IN THE UNITED STATES, 1896


The artist's initials in the lower left corner A.R.W. stand for Alfred Rudolph Waud (1828-April 6, 1891) an American artist and illustrator, born in London, England. Waud was famous for the sketches he made as an artist correspondent during the American Civil War. It is possible that Waud also wrote the story that accompanied this but "the artist" is referred to by another narrator so either Waud was getting creative or there was a journalist on board with him. There were several other drawings that were made into engravings for this voyage of the CITY OF CAIRO in July of 1871 adventure but the attached artwork is the only one of the boat itself in an "action" scene. We have other examples of Waud's work elsewhere among our illustrations including ON THE MISSISSIPPI which included the NATCHEZ on Sept 2nd 1871, which was also from the periodical EVERY SATURDAY in which he was indeed given a "double credit" as both "Our Special Artist AND Correspondent."

The Murphy Library has some photos of several boats named the CITY OF CAIRO but they were all built after the one in this story was active on the Mississippi. Fred Way lists the boat in this story as Number 1055 in his Packet Directory. This CITY OF CAIRO was built in 1864 at Metropolis, Illinois and completed in St. Louis. She was sidewheeler 272 feet long and rand St. Louis—Memphis for the Memphis Packet Co. Lost in a fire at New Orleans in 1873.

In the following story there are references in the text to things that are going on in the illustration including the clerk escaping from the boiler deck via the suspended "gang-plank" (stage) and an irate Priest shaking his fists at his parishioners in Lake Providence, Louisiana who failed to come to the rescue of the boat and him after the CITY OF CAIRO suffered an accident

The wrecked cotton packet JUDGE WHEELER mentioned in the article was built in 1870 and exploded 45 miles north of Vicksburg in February 1871 with 600 bales of cotton on board.

Some editing of the article was required due in part to the poor quality of the online source material which was difficult for both myself and "Omni PagePro" to transcribe. I was only able to obtain page 285 from this article on eBay from which the attached illustration was scanned.


pages 284 - 286


SEPTEMBER 16, 1871.


It was a hot afternoon in July when we hurried aboard the steamer CITY OF CAIRO.

She was advertised to leave Vicksburg for Memphis at precisely five o'clock p.m. At precisely six o'clock p.m., the CITY OF CAIRO pushed out in the river, and paddled away down stream in the direction of New Orleans.

Stopping, however, at a little railroad station on the bank opposite and below Vicksburg, the CITY OF CAIRO passed a social hour, so to speak, with the trim-looking, wharf-boat there, and then turned around, puffed back to the Vicksburg levee, and went to discharging the freights which she had brought from Memphis on the last trip.

Between ten and eleven o'clock we went to bed, and awoke next morning to find the CITY OF CAIRO with her nose on a desolate bank, commanding a view of about three rods of alluvial wilderness in the foreground and a dense tog swallowing up the river and all nature beyond. We had left Vicksburg some time in the night, and had been overtaken by this fag after a voyage of about five miles.

After breakfast the mist cleared away enough for the boat to feel its way by soundings, and when at last the day turned out bright and sunny, we paced the mouth of the Yazoo, and landed at Milliken's Bend.

Here the river has been busy in its work of obliterating traces of the late war. The spot where "the brave troops fought proudly," as the phrase goes, has not yet caved away, but the earthworks and the ten and eleven o'clock we went to bed, and awoke next morning to find the CITY OF CAIRO with her nose on a desolate bank, commanding a view of about three rows of old levees which served for works, are gradually going down the Mississippi to form sandbars for the peaceful water-fowl of lower latitudes.

It took us three days and three nights to reach Memphis. There is no reason why I should go over the long, tedious voyage in detail. We made, I believe, four hundred landings in all. The banks presented the same sunny monotony day after day, and the nights were the same dreary lapses of heat and half-sleep. Little is left of Napoleon, Arkansas which used to have the reputation of being the wickedest town on the Mississippi ; but the streets once vocal with the "sharp note of the pistol and the pleasing squeak of the victim" have all caved into the thee. Napoleon may be said to be wrecked on a sandbar a few miles below, on the opposite side of the river where the caving earth is being deposited. Even the Arkansas River, which used to empty all its waters into the Mississippi in the neighborhood, has broken into the White River, miles above, and has left the town to its fate. Napoleon is in fact a mere suburb of its former self. Helena, farther up the Mississippi, and in the same State, presents a thriving appearance. Remains of fortifications used in the late war, are still visible on the high ground back of the town, but the town itself shows no scars, at least to one passing on the river. Bell's Plantation and the picturesque wreck of the old steamboat JUDGE WHEELER, form, with the towns already mentioned, about the only interruption to the level sameness of the banks for the whole four hundred miles of our passage from Vicksburg to Memphis.

But we had excitement enough in one crowded boor on board the boat to make up for all the tameness of the shores. Up to the hour in question a faint show of diversion was furnished by a certain fat boy, who generally made his appearance on deck just after meal time. Here he would mingle freely with any group that had the energy to converse, find assist in the conversation, until yielding to post-prandial influences he would fall asleep sitting up. Then, too, there was a mild sort of excitement afforded on by three State-prison convicts, —an express robber, a poisoner and a cold-blooded murderer, who came aboard somewhere in Mississippi, and camped upon the baggage of your present chronicler, just outside of our stateroom door. They were negroes; and were on their way to work upon some plantation. Three men fiercely armed took turns in standing guard over them. The fine way in which the State institutions of Mississippi are I farmed out, could not, I think, have been brought to one's door with more exhilarating force. In comparison with any other Southern State, Mississippi has hardly debt at all, and why its citizens should be exposed to the humiliation, to say nothing of the demoralization, of having criminals turned out among them in gangs all over the country, does not appear to the pacing traveller. A private individual or company chartered the penitentiary and its inmates— a fact which speaks ill enough of the legislature; but this scattering of convicts all over the country, seems to me an outrage not only upon the dignity of the State, but upon the rights of the law-abiding citizen.

One afternoon, on the verge of the crowded hour I have alluded to, the prisoners were lying asleep upon my baggage, the fat boy was sitting asleep on the rail, and the majority of the passengers were gossiping drowsily in the shade on the forward guard. We had just left a landing on the Mississippi bank, and were going to Lake Providence, when there was a sudden scraping of the bottom of the boat, a jar that threw us all forward, a crash, an explosion, and a vast escape of steam. There was not a face that did not turn deathly pale. For a few seconds no one seemed to have power to speak or move. Then someone said, " We have struck a snag and it has gone through the boilers !"

The first impulse was now for every soul to jump overboard from where we were on the upper deck. There was a rush in that direction. At the railing, the united mind appeared to change in an instant, and the whole throng made for the stairs leading to the lower deck. Everyone hurried forward in the attempt to be as far from the boilers as possible when the explosion should come. And while we were expecting it to come, the scene was just simply terrific. Some mad person had secured a door of a state room and brought it down on the bow where I was, and then disappeared. I could do no more than gather up the door and stand ready to jump. There provided for, I surveyed the scene about me. At my feet, crouched behind a coil of rope, lay a negro "roustabout," too much terrified to move, but his gaze was so bent in the direction of the boilers that only the whites of his eyes were visible. Further along a lot of deck passengers and roustabouts were just launching the only available boat. The mate happening to see them, made them leave the boat and go to work putting out the fires under the boilers.

Some of the ladies were kept from jumping into the river by main force. The most distressful sight, perhaps, was that of the poor convicts; they were handcuffed together, and none of their three keepers had the means of unshackling them. The prison authorities had forgotten to send along the keys. The terror of the wretches was something sickening to see, especially after the keepers had tried to break the irons and had failed.

The whole upper part of the boat was enveloped la the escaping steam, out of which I saw the chief clerk emerging. He was a very dressy, gentlemanly person on ordinary occasions, but now he came abruptly, head first, in his shirt sleeves, through the back window of his office. He jumped out upon the gang-plank which hung suspended on a plane with the upper deck, and climbed down some ropes to the lower deck, preceded by his glossy silk hat, and followed halfway by the fat boy. This youth was on the point of going overboard after the clerk's hat supposing the clerk to be still under it, and in the safest place at such a moment; but his father caught him in the middle of his mad career and of his anatomy, and brought him back to the guard.

The humor of this scene had much to do in restoring me to my senses. Looking aft I saw the men working hard to put out the fires under the boilers and the engineers all at their posts. It occurred to me that if there were to be any further explosion the engineers would be apt to know it and would be getting out of the way. Events occur very fast at such a time. While I was standing still with a firm grip on my door, more people with everything but life preservers joined me on the bow. The life-preservers were all in the staterooms and no one seemed to care about venturing far into the cabin after them. The ladies were actually too scared to faint or scream. Once free of the idea of going overboard they stood stark and speechless on the lower deck. While they were standing there in this helpless way, a gentleman who had retired to the quarterdeck to strip himself as soon as the explosion occurred, strode forth in undershirt and drawers to view the situation; he came in plain view of the situation, retired gracefully, and put on his clothes again.

About this time my eye lighted upon our artist from whom the confusion had separated me. The artist was now intently watching the movements of the bartender, and the bartender was walking vigorously up and down in front of the bar, the only man on the boat, except probably the engineers, who had not left his post. He kept up his promenade for some time, and thee stopped as if something had struck him; something indeed bad struck him ; it was the thought of the money in his drawer. He went deliberately behind the bar, transferred the money from the drawer to his pocket, and resumed his walk. Sometimes his form would disappear in the steam, but he kept on marching to and fro in front of his bar till the panic was over.

I joined the artist and we went up into the cabin and found it still full of steam and unbearably hot. The carpet was torn and a part of the floor was blown up ; chairs, tamps, and tables were capsized, and everything high and low strewn with the bits of cotton which had served as padding to the carpet. Here I was much relieved to learn that we had not taken a snag into our boilers at all, but that we had run with full headway on to a sandbar, and a steam-pipe had been twisted off by the swaying and wrenching of the boat. When we found that the danger from fire was over, we ventured into our stateroom, which was in the immediate neighborhood of the broken steam-pipe. We found our pillows blown into a heap with our mosquito-bars, and diverse volumes of light literature, to say nothing of light articles of apparel, strewn on the floor and covered with hot water and Mississippi mud. If this had all happened in the middle of the night, we might have gotten scalded and been a great deal more scared than we were. If we had been roused out of an unquiet sleep by such an explosion accompanied by hot water I have in my mind's eye at least one person who would probably have gone overboard without waiting to secure a door as a floatation device or anything else.

In the course of time the anchor was cast and the water was blown out of the boilers. We were all the while in plain view of the people of Lake Providence, scarcely a mile away, but they made not the least effort to come to our aid. We lay at anchor most of the afternoon, yet no one seemed to have even the curiosity to approach us. We could see people watching us from the wharf-boat while the steam was escaping. They however gradually disappeared and we were left to our fate. We had on board the parish priest of Lake Providence; he was, like the rest of us, very much frightened at best, but he waxed much more indignant than any one else at the conduct of his parishioners. He vowed he would give them a little sermon on the subject, if he lived to get ashore. The chubby reverend gentleman had seized his valise at the first alarm, and rushed down on the lower deck, ready to go ashore, and he stood, as you will see him in the lower right hand corner of our picture, waving at his stolid, unheeding flock, until the steam was quite blown out of the boilers.

Assured that the danger was really past, we all met to compare notes. As is always the case after an accident, every one was more anxious to give an account of his own experiences than to listen to an account given by anyone else but in this sympathetic reunion we found that no one had been injured except a canary bird, a sweet songster belonging to the boat. The steam had killed it. At the time of the accident a small party were at dinner not far from where the pipe burst in the cabin. In regular order dessert was their next course; they took napkins instead and hurried away with them. As soon as the steam was out of the cabin the ladies, with one or two exceptions, retired and powdered their faces. Then they came back en the guards and contributed their sham to the general stock of experiences One lady said she had heard in such awful moments people always think and talk about death and religion. Now that hadn't been the way with her. She was thinking all the dine about her trunk full of new clothes, and whether they would get wet, or burn up. Finally the said her anxiety seemed to have settled upon one solitary dress made to wear north, —when, being assured that the danger was over, her mind traversed hack from the one dress to the other contents of the trunk, and thus through the trunk to her ordinary consciousness again. This metaphysical process, as I understand it, was just the converse of the German one which resulted in the elephant. The young lady you see, did not evolve the trunk from her consciousness, but her consciousness from the trunk.

Not twenty minutes before the occurrence of the accident an officer in former Confederate service had been telling of certain cool behaviors of his own, not only upon the field of battle, but on the occasion of a great steamboat explosion once upon a time. When the crash came on board of our boat, he jumped to his feet and disappeared. After all was over he explained that he had gone aft to see to the ladies. Now all the ladies he happened to know were in the party from which he so suddenly vanished. That evening when we had got under way again, and were all seated at supper, the boat went a little hard against the bank in making a landing. Our ex-Confederate again sprang to his feet and disappeared. Being questioned upon his return, he said that be thought it was his getting-off place. All the stories of brave conduct in the war which our friend had previously told at may have been true; but he never on the boat seemed quite brave enough to acknowledge that he was scared. The fact is we were all scared, as we had a right to be. Even the plucky bartender could hardly speak when he was first accosted on his solitary walk in front of his bar.

There was no one to blame for the accident. The sands and mud of the Mississippi will shift, and if a steamboat striking a bar with all its force wrenches off a steam-pipe, the engineers can do no more than ours did. They worked with all their eight and made their fire-men said coal-heavers work, and long before dark the damage was repaired and the engines were moving The current itself took us off the bar. The anchor was shipped, and we proceeded on our voyage. The accident furnished us with something to talk about all the way to Memphis. The story had to be told over and over to passengers whom we picked up on our way. To the newcomers we gave tithes of wonder and fear until we had nothing left in our store but individual bravery. At last we were a lot of gallant people who had been blown up without moving a muscle except in giving dauntless aid to unprotected women and children.


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.