Illustrated Steamboat Postcards - Page 2


ST. LOUIS The Levee
Color lithograph postcard
Circa 1890's

Raphael Tuck & Sons
"Art Publishers to Their Majesties the King and Queen"

postcard Series
No. 2220, "St. Louis"

Printed in Germany

Sternwheel Packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 1135

Built at Jeffersonville, Indiana, Howard Ship Yards, 1889; homeport or owner's residence St. Louis Missouri; original price $13,000. She was built for the St. Louis & Tennessee River Packet Company to run St. Louis-Tennessee River trade; they chartered her to the Lee Line to run out of Memphis in September 1895. She was acquired by Captains A. E. and L. P. Cummins to run Memphis-Vicksburg. She sank at Shiloh Landing, 60 miles above Vicksburg on September 18, 1897, and was raised. She burned at the Memphis, Tennessee wharf March 9, 1898. The WARREN was chartered to replace her, and then the CUMMINS got the Ouachita for the trade


Detail from vintage postcard entitled:

"Two different styles of Mississippi Steamers."

Published by F. v Bardeleben, New York. Made in Germany.

Sidewheeler ST. PAUL Way's Packet Directory Number 4965

Sternwheeler DUBUQUE Way's Packet Directory Number 1616


"DOWN UPON THE MISSISSIPPI" post marked card 1906

Information on verso:

Raphael Tuck & Sons' postcard Series No. 23709 "In the Land of Cotton." ART PUBLISHERS TO THEIR MAJESTIES THE KING AND QUEEN.

Sternwheel Packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 3252
Built in 1884 at Jeffersonville, Indiana
Owned by the Parisot Line.
Operated on the Yazoo River.
She was a cotton packet.
Still listed as of 1886 and perhaps later.


Colorful postcard from my collection of the sternwheel cotton packet NATCHEZ published by F.M. Kirby & Co. New Orleans post marked 23 Sept 1910. Have not been able to determine how many bales were in her "record cargo of cotton." The previous nine steamboats named NATCHEZ were all sidewheelers.

This boat, built in 1891 was the first sternwheeler named NATCHEZ.

Sternwheel packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 4111

Built in 1891 at Jeffersonville, Indiana by Howard Ship Yard

Original price of Natchez was $43,000 and her home port was New Orleans, Louisiana.

Owned by the aging T.P. Leathers, the Natchez was commanded by his son, Captain Bowling S. Leathers and his daughter-in-law (Captain Bowling's wife), Captain Blanche Douglass Leathers.

Captain Blanche obtained her license in August 1894 and she was a no-nonsense executive and ran a tight ship.

Captain T.P. died in New Orleans, June 1896.

The Natchez was the only sternwheeler ever owned by the Leather's fleet and was their last boat.

The Natchez had several accidents over the years: November 1896, three miles above Natchez, Mississippi she sank with 1,700 bales of cotton and 8,757 sacks of seed.

Accident occurred as a result of dried hull seams.

In early February, 1897 she hit the shore at Cottonwood, 20 miles below Vicksburg. Mississippi and tore away the jack-staff and stages and toppled her chimneys.

She also sank at Ford's Crossing, 12 miles below Natchez in November, 1899.

In 1902, Captain William A. Duke became master.

She received new boilers in July 1914 and in 1915 was sold by the U.S. marshal for $6,500 to Capt. Duke.

Captain Duke ran her in the New Orleans-Cariola-Grand Lake trade where she was often laid up for long periods.

In 1918, she was dismantled.


1891: Captain T.P. Leathers

1896: Captain Bowling S. Leathers and Captain Blanche Douglass Leathers

May 1915: Captain William A. Duke

Officers & Crew:

1891: Captain Bowling S. Leathers (commander)
1894: Captain Blanche Douglass Leathers (clerk)
1899: Captain William A. Duke
1902: Captain William A. Duke (master) & T.C. Sachse (clerk)


Nice coloring job on this old postcard and with flags upgraded 'tis a thing of beauty . . .

Packet/Excursion boat

Way's Packet Directory Number 4043

Sidewheel Packet/Excursion boat

Built in 1901 at Jeffersonville, Indiana by Howard Ship Yard

Owned by:

Louisville and Evansville Packet Company (1901-1910)

Captain Walter Blair (1910)

Coney Island Company (1918)

Her bell came from the CITY OF CINCINNATI.

Ran in the Louisville-Evansville trade. She was taken to Cincinnati in 1910 and had 25 feet added to her length forward of the boilers. She then ran in the St. Paul-Davenport-Stillwater trade under the command of Captain Walter Blair.

In the summer of 1911 she ran a special cruise from Davenport to New Orleans and out to the Jetties and return.

A similar excursion planned for April 1912 was canceled due to high water; instead she ran an excursion from Davenport-Cincinnati and back.

In May 1914 she made a special trip from Davenport to the Tennessee River. By June 1914 she was back running in her usual trade.

In the fall of 1915 she made a tourist trip from St. Louis to New Orleans. In May 1916 she made a Davenport to Florence, Alabama trip.

She was sold in spring 1918 to the Coney Island Company of Cincinnati to replace the Princess.

She was made into a full-scale excursion boat continuing in the Cincinnati-Coney Island trade until she burned at Cincinnati on November 4, 1922.

The fire was caused by a watchman boiling tar on the galley stove for roof repairs.

Her roof bell went to the GENERAL WOOD while she was in the Coney Island trade.


Promotional postcard for the Memphis & Arkansas City Packet Co. featuring the first Kate Adams. Major John D. Adams was owner of the boat and head of the company. Nice old timey advertising.

steamboat illustration

This is the Steamer Choctaw; one of my favorite postcards. Captioned: "Wharf Scene, Little Rock. Arkansas." Can't remember if I ever sent it previously.

The boat is so simple and modest, yet the retouch artist managed to get carried away and surpassed themself by creating something approaching a work of art. I can't quite put my finger on why it's so intriguing, maybe it's the dynamics of the vertical and diagonal lines and of course the color, particularly the magenta hull, and those rather over-simplified clouds. Probably just another banal day's work for the retouch artist but somehow they managed to glorify the commonplace into something out of the ordinary, perhaps even bordering on the surreal? Well, you'd know better about that than me.


"The Florence Belle on the Ohio River with the Western Penitentiary in the background" (located in Pittsburgh, PA) The postcard was published by The Pittsburgh News Company and printed in Germany by Druck Chrome.

Many years ago I loaned this postcard to Ralph DuPae who had it copied for the LaCrosse collection. (It can be identified as the same one by the handwritten number 1699 in the upper right corner). The image on the LaCrosse site is displayed in black and white.

A canvas sign stretched over a display board on shore advertises ferry service to Pittsburgh hourly from 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm On the reverse of the un-post marked card is handwritten in pen: "Boat landing at Brunot's Island where race track is located."


From 1903 to 1914, the island was the home of Brunot's Island Race Track.

Brunot Island (also known as Brunot's Island) is a 129-acre island in the Ohio River at the west end of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. It was named for Dr. Felix Brunot who settled the island with his extended family in the late 1700s. The family entertained the Lewis and Clark expedition on the island in August 1803. The island is now home to the Brunot Island Generating Station, a fossil fuel power plant.

The Ohio Connecting Railroad Bridge crosses the Ohio River at the island. The island does not otherwise connect to the land, and all vehicular traffic must use a ferry to access the island. The employees of the power plant use a pedestrian walkway on the railroad bridge to go to work. The walkway is not accessible to the public.


State Correctional Institution - Pittsburgh (historically known as the "Western Penitentiary" or the "West Pen") is a low-to-medium security correctional institution, operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, located about five miles west of Downtown Pittsburgh and within city limits. Located on the banks of the Ohio River on 21 acres of land. (12 acres within the perimeter fence.) It was the first prison west of the Atlantic Plain as well as a major Civil War prison from 1863 to 1864.


Sternwheel Packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 2073

Built in 1895 at Brownsville, Pennsylvania at Axton Yard

Owned by Captain H. Page Hudson, Freeport and Captain T. P. Hudson.

Officers were Captain H.P. Hudson (1895 and 1898) Pilot Harry Donaldson (1898)

The BELLE came out in April 1895 in the Allegheny River trade, Pittsburgh-East Brady. In May 1897, she made a trip to Oil City, Pennsylvania and took out excursions to Indian God Rock, the last steam packet in that area.

Her partner in the East Brady trade was the NELLIE HUDSON No. 3. She transferred to the Pittsburgh-Morgantown trade, Monongahela River in the summer of 1897.

Originally her pilot house was forward on the boiler deck; in spring of 1898 it was raised on the roof and the boiler deck extended forward.

She made a special trip to Fairmont, West Virginia arriving there on May 18, 1898. A number of persons from Morgantown made the trip. Telephone lines and cable wires were cut and parted at several places.

Three boats had been to Fairmont prior: the ELECTOR, the WEST VIRGINIA (in 1872) and the towboat HARRY.

The BELLE was cut down by ice at Creighton, Pennsylvania, December 20, 1909 (some sources say January 17, 1910). The estimated cost of her loss was $5000.


"Mississippi River Steamboat. Quincy, Ill" No. 1144

Printed in Germany for E.J. Taylor and Co., Quincy, Illinois

No post mark but published sometime between 1904 and 1910


Way's Directory No. 5500


Built at 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.


T.J. ROBINSON ferry Rock Island

Sidewheel Ferry
Way's Packet Directory Number 5275
Built in 1875 at Clinton, Iowa
Originally the AUGUSTA, she was renamed between 1903-1905.
Operated at Rock Island, Illinois.
Extensive repairs were made to her in 1908 after which she continued doing good business.
Sometime after 1908 she was renamed ROCK ISLAND.


Louisville Waterfront 1899 illustrated postcard

This is from an enlarged, undated reprint, probably made from an illustrated postcard on a promotional poster printed for WKPC, Channel 15 Television in Louisville, KY. The caption is from the lower margin:

"The Louisville, Kentucky waterfront was a busy place in the steamboat days of 1899. We could find from left to right, the Louisville Boat Club wharfboat, the TELL CITY, an Evansville packet, the CITY of CINCINNATI, a mail packet, the JOHN K. SPEED, a Cincinnati and New Orleans packet, and the COLUMBIA, a Jeffersonville, Indiana ferry. Freight piles are scattered in convenient places on the levee and mule carts and drays hustle among them. The picture was taken looking west from the foot of 4th Street."


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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.