Steamboat Ephemera Gallery
New items! For more ephemera, go to Musum Guide


Julia Belle License Plate in Huck Finn Ford frame

JULIA BELLE on a 1992 Illinois license plate with copper plated frame for HUCK FINN FORD from the Northern California town of Orland.



Riverboat - Vintage Style -Heavy Duty Canvas Bag

I received this tote bag today from the Etsy dealers Trixie & Milo. Heavy duty, beautifully made and very useful.

T & M's photo on Etsy is accurate. After scanning the side of the bag here I enhanced the blue logo of the sidewheel steamboat inside the diamond vignette which is gray in the original. In my version the lettering is darkened and the fabric background brightened. The original is subtle and tasteful, mine is more like an old fashioned "broadside" poster.

The Classic Market Tote - Riverboat - Vintage Style -Heavy Duty Canvas Bag by Trixie & Milo - Travel Bag/Satchel The classic Mississippi River Boat is a true piece of American history. With this Classic Market Tote, you'll always be in style.

Classic styling and rugged construction, make this the perfect bag for shopping or just toting around your valuables. Based on vintage mail carrying bags, and made from heavy-duty 22oz. canvas. Every tote is lined with 100% cotton "mattress-ticking" fabric. Heavy cotton web handles, and shoulder strap, and quadruple stitched siding, make this a very durable bag.

Size: 20"h. x 18"w. x 7"d.
Shoulder Strap Drop: 25"


RIVER QUEEN at Hannibal, MO from a 1960's advertisement

Photo and text from a '60's ad for ETHYL gasoline. This was taken on the Missouri side at the Hannibal waterfront on the Mississippi River where steamboats still land and let passengers off so they can take some hours touring the town.

The RIVER QUEEN (formerly the GORDON C. GREENE) ended up on the other side of the river on the Illinois shore just north of the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge. The RQ was there from 1961 to '64 before moving to St. Louis where she sank in 1967.

An article on the LOST TABLE site features a history of the RIVER QUEEN. It is featured after the caption below. If you go to the online ink you will see that some of the images in the article came from Dave's collection here on

Caption in the magazine ad featured in LIFE and LOOK:
Adventure still beckons where Mark Twain lived

You can let your car spend a lonely weekend in the garage. Or you can fill it with your children and discover the wonders around you, wherever you live.

If you live in the middle of America, you can let your car meander with the Mississippi to Hannibal, Missouri, where adventure still beckons. Here a man lived who worshipped America with words. Not her oceans, but her muddy Mississippi. Not her giants, but her children. Tom Sawyer And Huck Finn. And any child can see they live here now, in spooky caves and fancy riverboats, near a whitewashed fence and a twisty tree still faithful to the tales told by Samuel Clemens. A man who wrote by a name you still hear when men measure the depths of the Mississippi: Mark Twain.

Wherever you live - east, west, north or south - the beauty and tradition of this wonderful country await your discovery. For wonderment is everywhere. It sleeps in towns where books come true. It beckons from a mountain top and calls from a valley. But it mostly happens where children are.

Ethyl calls this your Magic Circle. Why not go driving to yours this weekend? Your service station dealer will be happy to help you.

New York 17
New York Ethyl Corporation of Canada Limited, Toronto

These Magic Circle advertisements are published to help you get more enjoyment out of your car. Ethyl makes additives used by oil companies to improve their gasolines and your driving pleasure.

River Queen

The RIVER QUEEN was built in 1923 by Howard Shipyards in Jeffersonville, Indiana for the Eagle Packet Company of St. Louis. Originally christened the CAPE GIRARDEAU, the steamer carried passengers and freight between St. Louis and Louisville.

In 1935, the Cape Girardeau was sold to the Greene Line for $50,000. Renamed the GORDON C. GREENE, it operated as a successful tourist boat on the Ohio River between Cincinnati and New Orleans. The GREENE appeared in the motion pictures Gone with the Wind (1939), The Kentuckian (1955) and Band of Angels (1957).

The GREENE was sold in 1952 to a group in Portsmouth, Ohio who used the boat as a floating hotel under the name SARAH LEE. Starting in 1955, the steamer was used as a restaurant and museum by multiple owners, first as the Sternwheeler at Owensboro, Kentucky and then at Bradenton, Florida, where it was rechristened the RIVER QUEEN.

A bust as a tourist attraction in Bradenton, the sternwheeler was towed to New Orleans in 1960 to become a theater and bar. It didn't fair any better there, and in 1961, the RIVER QUEEN was put up for auction.

John Groffel of St. Louis and Arthur Krato of Hannibal were hunting and fishing companions. They also shared a fondness for the Mississippi steamboat era of Mark Twain. When they learned the sternwheeler RIVER QUEEN was to be auctioned in New Orleans, they decided to buy it.

The two would-be rivermen bought the RIVER QUEEN at auction for $49,100, which they thought a bargain. They felt even better when three days later they were offered $150,000 for the boat. Groffel and Krato chose to dock their steamboat at Hannibal. "I'm told that tourists are the second biggest industry in the state," reasoned Groffel.

"We thought about putting the RIVER QUEEN at St. Louis. Maybe the Arch and the riverfront will draw 3,000,000 people a year. But Hannibal's the right place for the boat because of the town's association with Mark Twain. If the 3,000,000 want to see it they have to drive only 90 miles." The RIVER QUEEN arrived in Hannibal in August of 1961. The 237-foot sternwheeler was moored 200 yards off US Highway 36 near the Illinois approach to the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge that spans the Mississippi River connecting Illinois to Hannibal. Groffel and Krato were betting a boat that had failed to show a profit in many other berths could succeed as a floating restaurant at Hannibal, with a museum and souvenir shop.

The RIVER QUEEN opened for business on April 26, 1962. "We've got $157,700 in her so far," said Groffel. He estimated 30,000 people visited the sternwheeler in its first three months of operation. But two years later, the RIVER QUEEN was on the move again.

In June of 1964, Groffel and Krato had their steamboat towed from Hannibal to St. Louis. They decided to move the 41-year-old craft downstream because of "potential business and interest in river lore in connection with the Gateway Arch and the riverfront square proposed by Walt Disney."

Before opening for business on the St. Louis riverfront, the RIVER QUEEN River Queen underwent extensive renovation. The interior was altered to expand its facilities and to comply with more stringent fire regulations required in St. Louis. A small theater and lounge were fitted out where the boat's boilers had been. Heating and air-conditioning was installed on the boat to ready it for year-round operation. By December of 1964, the sternwheeler was moored at its final home, just north of Eads Bridge.

On Friday evening, December 18, 1964, the RIVER QUEEN opened to a benefit dinner for the new St. Anthony's Hospital. Its main deck restaurant was again ablaze with activity.

On the GORDON C. GREENEG, the first-class staterooms were to port and starboard on the main deck, with the dining salon occupied the passageway in between, about 30 feet wide.

When the GREENE was transformed from a functioning tourist boat to a floating restaurant, the staterooms were removed and the dining room commanded the entire area midship, seating 185 diners.

The RIVER QUEEN had an upscale menu. Live lobster was commonplace. So was catfish; about 700 pounds a week were served. "The fellow we buy the catfish from thinks we're throwing it overboard," said Groffel, "but you'd be surprised what a national reputation Mississippi River catfish has. Tourists ask for it." The restaurant was open for lunch and dinner. Diners were treated to nineteenth-century-style riverboat splendor.

The RIVER QUEEN flourished for three years on the St. Louis riverfront. Then, early on the morning of December 2, 1967, the floating restaurant began sinking. By dawn, its stern appeared to be resting on the sloping river bottom, giving the abandoned craft a sharp list to port. The restaurant manager told police he first noticed the boat listing about 3 a.m. when he heard dishes crashing to the floor. Within three hours, water was at the level of the second deck ceiling at the stern, inundating part of the second deck lounge. Owners Groffel and Krato were called and sat in an automobile on the waterfront in a steady rain for several hours. They morosely watched the darkened, fog-shrouded boat settle. They were unable to explain what had happened. "If it goes," Groffel said, "I'll turn my back on the river."

Although salvage was attempted, high water and floating ice made saving the old boat impossible. The contractor engaged to raise the sternwheeler finally abandoned the project. The city later brought in a scoop shovel and demolished what remained of the RIVER QUEEN, leaving only the steel hull in place.



"Located on Steamboat Slough the property presents approximately 3,500 feet of river frontage"

Just purchased the attached fruit crate label for Steamboat Orchards Packing Co.

A Google search came up with the following attached commercial/residential real estate listing. It's not clear if the property has been sold or still available as of February 2019.

How's this for some exciting property? A tantalizing description of desirable location: "Located on Steamboat Slough the property presents approximately 3,500 feet of river frontage"


STEAMBOAT GROVES PACKING COMPANY a.k.a STEAMBOAT ORCHARDS"Located on Steamboat Slough the property presents approximately 3,500 feet of river frontage"

Steamboat Groves Packing Company15229 Grand Island RoadWalnut Grove, CA 95690

Sold Exclusively by Reni Della Maggiore

• Orchard irrigited By Underground Sprinklers
• 2800 Tons Cannery "Delivery Rights" With Pacific Coast Producers
• 3.25 Miles of Drain Tile
• 3 Room 26,000 Sq Ft Cold Storage Plant
• Office Building
• Employee Housing Labor Camp/Facilites & Bath For 100
• Steamboat Orchards Label
• Approximately 3500 Feet River Frontage

Steamboat Orchards, composed of Steamboat Orchards Packing Company and three contiguous pear orchards, a turn key operation as a grower, packer and shipper of Bartlett, Bosc and Star Crimson Pears. This unique property includes the internationally recognized Steamboat Orchard Label, a well maintained labor camp, employee housing, office facilities, workshop and storage as well as a 26,000 square foot cold storage plant with 28 foot side walls. This well established business opportunity provides immediate market place reputation and 2,800 tons cannery "Delivery Rights" with Pacific Coast Producers. Located on Steamboat Slough the property presents approximately 3,500 feet of river frontage and almost 320 gross acres. The property also includes a 2500 square foot home with a one of a kind pear shaped pool, another 1500 square foot three bedroom two bath home and two additional houses each with three bedrooms and approximately 1000 square feet. Also included are all the operation equipment such as tractors, spray machines, fork lifts, orchard trailers and miscellaneous vehicles.

Reni Della Maggiore, RU, FIA BCI
Coldwell Banker Commercial The Duncan Company, Inc.
18826 North Lower Sacramento Road, Suite E
P.O. Box 1066
Woodbridge, CA 95258-1066
Office: 209-334-6717
Cell: 209-649-7944


Cornwell's ROB'T E. LEE (mirror image) on a beer glass

Beer glass for a brew named Riverboat Brown from Rock Bottom Brewery when there was one in Kansas City, circa 2003. Artist painted a faithful mirror image of the ROB'T E. LEE from Cornwell's Race with the NATCHEZ painting.


Steamboats' Traffic Association examples

Envelope from Steamboats Traffic Association

Postmarked New Orleans, 4 March 1905

Steamboats Traffic Association

Chas. W. Drown Freight Traffic Manager

(rubber stamped supplement to address):

523 Hibernia Bank Building

New Orleans, Louisiana

Among the many Steamboat Rates listed, Authority 3809 pertains to Captain Fred Way Jr.'s BETSY ANN Various other steamboats have their own Authority numbers assigned to them including some other examples below:

Excerpts from:






Authority No. 3569.
Steamers Alice and Jessie.
Rates between New Orleans and landings on Amite River,
as far as Bayou Manchac and Hope Villa: also down freights.
Issued January 25, 1906.

Authority No. 3587.
Natchez & Bayou Sara Packet Co.
Rate of 1% cents per bushel on grain and bran, carload quantities,
from Vidalia to points on west bank of Atchafalaya River to Union Point,
Black Hawk and Red River landings.
Issued February 6, 1906.

Authority No. 3809.
Steamer Betsy Ann.
Rate of $1.50 per ton on cotton seed meal and hulls.
from Vidalia and Tenses to landings on the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivera.
Effective March 11, 1908.

Authority No. 4068.
Steamer Carrie.
Rates on commodities between New Orleans and landings on Bayou Lafourche.
Issued October 18, 1906.

Authority No. 4145.
Steamer Annie P.
Tariff applying on cotton from Bayou Bartholomew to New Orleans and Monroe.
Effective December 18, 1908.

Authority No. 4601.
Steamer Grand Isle.
Tariff applying on commodities from New Orleans to Grand Isle.
Effective August 15. 1907.

Authority No. 4696.
Steamer G. H. A. Thomas.
Tariff applying on commodities, from New Orleans to Springfield.
Effective September 11, 1907.


"No Gambling" Aboard on Sundays" sign

8 x 12 inch "Faux" sign silk screened on heavy sheet metal in gold and white on black background which came out a dark navy blue in the attached scan.

(COMMISSION was misspelled with only one "S" so I corrected here in Photoshop, makes a better presentation).

Possibly this was sold as souvenir or as home décor for bars and "man caves" Must have been made after 1975 since the steamboat graphic is derived from a photo of the modern NATCHEZ at New Orleans which was launched in '75.


Steamboat "STONEWALL JACKSON" necktie

Necktie (from the 1950's or '60's?) with a repeated image of what I was able to decipher as a steamboat called "STONEWALL JACKSON." The appearance of the fabric (weaved?) has an "embroidered" appearance. I scanned this over the back of a shirt whose coral color closely matches the color of the pennant, flags, name on the paddle box and the accent stripe that runs above and below the procession of steamers.


MENU cover: "SHOWBOAT SPLENDOR" Jean A. Mercier 1970

Rather overwhelming over-the-top color and "phantasy" concept art reminiscent of the zaniness of Heinz Edelmann's art direction for the 1968 Beatles' animated feature YELLOW SUBMARINE.

The stacks have been given a barber pole /candy stick treatment and the overall in terms of design and costumes are reminiscent of a stage design for a production number for The Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway or for one of Busby Berkeley's 1930's Hollywood musicals or a lavish Las Vegas stage show.

Luncheon Menu cover art "Dream cruise for nostalgic lovers of SHOWBOAT SPLENDOR" pictorial area 8 x 9 inches by Jean A. Mercier (French, 1899-1995) S.S. OCEANIC Thurs 24 December 1970 Number 6 of a series of 8 menu covers with the theme "Dream Cruising" Tormena - Genova - Printed in Italy Sept 1970.

Jean-Adrien Mercier was a French illustrator and advertising designer. He began his career painting posters for films and advertising before becoming artistic director of the house Cointreau, his mother being a granddaughter of the founder of the company and daughter of the creator of triple sec Cointreau liqueur.

Mercier made the theme poster for the first trade fair of Angers in 1924. From 1925 to 1939, he created more than 110 movie posters. He also illustrated menus for the General Transatlantic Company. His posters were signed Jean A. Mercier.



Preview of this book here:Google BooksA final novel by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love is inspired by the friendship between 19th-century journalist-explorer Henry Stanley and Mark Twain throughout a journey to Cuba in search of Stanley's father.

TWAIN & STANLEY ENTER PARADISE, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Oscar Hijuelos, is a luminous work of fiction inspired by the real-life, 37-year friendship between two towering figures of the late nineteenth century, famed writer and humorist Mark Twain and legendary explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley.

Hijuelos was fascinated by the Twain-Stanley connection and eventually began researching and writing a novel that used the scant historical record of their relationship as a starting point for a more detailed fictional account. It was a labor of love for Hijuelos, who worked on the project for more than ten years, publishing other novels along the way but always returning to Twain and Stanley; indeed, he was still revising the manuscript the day before his sudden passing in 2013.

The resulting novel is a richly woven tapestry of people and events that is unique among the author's works, both in theme and structure. Hijuelos ingeniously blends correspondence, memoir, and third-person omniscience to explore the intersection of these Victorian giants in a long vanished world.

From their early days as journalists in the American West, to their admiration and support of each other's writing, their mutual hatred of slavery, their social life together in the dazzling literary circles of the period, and even a mysterious journey to Cuba to search for Stanley's adoptive father, TWAIN & STANLEY ENTER PARADISE superbly channels two vibrant but very different figures. It is also a study of Twain's complex bond with Mrs. Stanley, the bohemian portrait artist Dorothy Tennant, who introduces Twain and his wife to the world of s´ances and mediums after the tragic death of their daughter.

A compelling and deeply felt historical fantasia that utilizes the full range of Hijuelos' gifts, TWAIN & STANLEY ENTER PARADISE stands as an unforgettable coda to a brilliant writing career.

A New York Times "Editor's Choice"
A Vanity Fair "Best Book for History Buffs"
A Boston Globe Fall 2015 Pick
One of Newsday's "20 Best Books to Read this Fall"
One of Men's Journal's "7 Best Books of November"


"Collect Freight Bill" undated, rubber stamped GORDON C. GREENE for the GREENE LINES

This was probably prepared in advance and rubber stamped in green ink with the boat it was generated on just in case an occasion arose that required a Collect transaction bill.


Came the Dawn: Photographer's name added : Murray River Paddle Steamers ADELAIDE & PEVENSEY at Echuca, Australia wharf

Beautiful photo of the Murray River Paddle Steamers ADELAIDE & PEVENSEY at Echuca, Australia wharf bathed in early morning sunlight.

Anne Gibbons, owner curator
David Hancock, co-owner, Photographer

"Paddle Steamer Print, Vintage Wooden Boat, PS Adelaide, Echuca AUSTRALIA"
Available in 4 choices of Digital Wall Prints in the following sizes:
8x11" $14.93
11x16" $22.41
16x24" $96.52
24x36" $168.35
Handmade item
Ready to ship in 3-5 business days
From Australia


PS Adelaide was one of the fastest paddles steamers on the Murray River.

Owner: J.C. Grassey and Partners(first owners)
Route: Murray River, Australia
Builder: George Linklater
Laid down: 1866
Homeport: Echuca, Victoria (Australia)
Status: Tourist vessel

Class and type: Paddle steamer
Propulsion: Steam

PS Adelaide is the oldest wooden hulled paddle steamer still operating anywhere in the world. It is now moored at the Echuca Wharf and used for special occasions.

PS Adelaide was built by George Linklater at Echuca in 1866 for J.C. Grassey and Partners. It was used by the original owners to transport wool to Echuca from nearby sheep stations. It was also a part-time passenger boat, bringing the ladies into town to do their shopping.

PS Adelaide was later purchased by the Murray River Sawmill Co and used as logging steamer. PS Adelaide operated as a logging steamer until 1958, before being sold to a South Australian owner and leaving Echuca. Purchased by the Echuca Apex Club in 1960, the vessel returned to Echuca and was eventually removed from the river for display in a local park.

In the early 1980s work began on restoring the vessel's hull and it was re-launched in 1984. With restoration completed in 1985, the PS Adelaide was re-commissioned by the Prince and Princess of Wales.


P.S. Pevensey is an authentic paddle steamer, with its original steam engine, in the fleet of paddle steamers at Echuca Wharf.

Route: River Murray, Australia
Builder: Permewan Wright & Co. Ltd.
Laid down: 1911
Homeport: Echuca, Victoria (Australia)
Status: Tourist vessel
General characteristics
Class and type: Paddle steamer
Displacement: 130 tons
Length: 112 ft 5 in (34.3 m)
Beam: 23 ft 0 in (7.0 m)

Pevensey starred in the role as the fictional PS Philadelphia in the Australian television mini-series All the Rivers Run, made in Echuca in 1982-1983. The PS Emmylou, also based at Echuca, starred as the PS Providence in the series. PS Pevensey is named after a sheep property on the Murrumbidgee River called Pevensey Station. The paddle steamer was built at the Moama slipway in 1911 by Permewan Wright & Co. Ltd.

Pevensey collected bales of wool from sheep stations and brought them to the Echuca wharf. From the wharf, it was loaded onto trains and taken to Melbourne for export overseas. Pevensey could carry 815 bales of wool and a total of 2000 bales when barges were towed along behind. Pevensey's barge was called Ada.

After the river trade ended, Pevensey was tied up at Mildura. It later was towed to Echuca to be restored in 1973.

PS Pevensey is powered by its original steam engine, built by Marshall, Sons & Co. of England. It is a 20 h.p., two-cylinder steam engine No 55721. PS Pevensey could achieve speeds of 8 knots. The paddle steamer's construction is iron and timber.


Boatmen's Saving Bank 1874 Account of F.J. Rickert

Boatmen's Saving Bank
St. Louis
January 28th 1874
Account of F.J. Rickert
Quincy, Illinois


The Ohio River Bridge & Ferry Company

Cancelled Stock Certificate No. 135 for "X" shares at $100 each that was never sold and filled out. Issued by THE OHIO RIVER BRIDGE & FERRY COMPANY - Incorporated under the laws of the State of WEST VIRGINIA. The seal of that state of West Virginia is featured in the upper left corner of the document. This blank form was printed in 1900 when the company was presumably founded but whether or not it actually got up and running is unknown. So far I haven't found reference to this company online or in reference books. Another company or companies that had the same intention to use the ferry and bridge enterprise may have superseded this one.

The company's intention was probably to initially run steam ferries from one side of the Ohio River to the other in different locales within the state of West Virginia while bridges were built within the proximity of the ferry routes. Upon completion of the bridges the ferry service would be discontinued. The company-owned ferries would then travel to the next location where another bridge would be built by the same method. There is probably a treatise on this practice with the history of ferries that were replaced by bridges as was the case in Hannibal, Missouri and a great many other rivertowns.

Augusta, Kentucky is one of the towns on the Ohio River which still maintains ferry service since a bridge was never built there. Crossing the river would have been restricted when ice during the winter made the river impassable or during extreme flooding when the current of the stream became too swift for it to be navigated safely.

The area of the Ohio River that borders West Virginia, and the islands that located within it, are wholly owned by West Virginia, the deed of cession of the Northwest Territory fixing the low water mark on the Ohio side as the western boundary of (what was then) Virginia. More than 30 West Virginia communities extend along the river.



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"


A steamboat promoting Pennsylvania motor oil

The steamboat at the landing here bears similarities to the GOLDEN EAGLE and AVALON so the artist may have combined elements from various photo research in their graphic. Undated Saturday Evening Post ad of PENNSYLVANIA Motor Oil. The style of the vehicle at the landing suggests that the ad might date from the 1950's. Where it wasn't black and white the ad was a butterscotch golden-brown color which I have converted to blue.


An illustrated cover for TOM SAWYER from 1972

Spirited illustration for a 1972 Rainbow Classics edition of TOM SAWYER signed by what looks like "Irwin" in the lower left. I was able to saturate the color and rearrange the title portion which credited Louis Slobodkin who did the illustrations inside the book which were pen and ink, spontaneous and stylized in an almost childlike way that worked in a sort of fine arts way.

The cover style is in the style of commercial illustration with some interesting derivations such as the boys on the raft in the lower right who originated from John Gannam's 1949 painting of Tom and Huck for a John Hancock life insurance advertisement. The steamboat behind the boys is the MARK TWAIN at Disneyland. Tom and Becky lost in the cave lower left, Tom and Becky in the schoolyard lower center with schoolhouse reminiscent of one of Winslow Homer's paintings with the edition of a belfry on the roof. Upper left the graveyard scene with Injun Joe about to stab Doctor Robinson whose raising a headboard to clobber Muff Potter with as Tom And Huck watch in foreground. Center top Aunt Polly scolds Tom for stealing jam. Upper right the whitewashing episode with the second story of the boyhood home in Hannibal seen above the fence. Upper right Tom with some of the loot on the barrelhead that he took in exchange to allow his friends to whitewash the fence. Tom cradles the "kitten with only one eye" as described by Mr. Sam Clemens during Chapter 2 where initially Tom had lured Ben Rogers into taking a turn at whitewashing in exchange for Ben's apple and subsequently:

"By the time Ben was fagged out,Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with - and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar - but no dog - the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash."


A sample shelf in my library of TOM SAWYER & HUCK FINN editions

Attached for the HUCK 'N TOM pages a photo of one of many shelves in my library that are stocked with editions Domestic & Foreign of Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Various small collectibles are included in front of the books. My interest in Sam Clemens' immortal river town boys is comparable to my devotion to steamboats.


Tom Sawyer dancin'?

This Poetic TOM SAWYER cover art appears to have been achieved with both watercolor and pastels by Giuseppi Ornaghi who may have done this originally for the program cover of a TOM SAWYER ballet . . . The characters Tom Sawyer with brush, Ben Rogers with apple and Injun Joe with knife all appear to be dancing.

Aunt Polly wearing her glasses and apron stands with hands on hips. Polly's cat Peter stands in front of her. Bandit John Murrell's treasure in gold coins describe an arc behind Tom that he and Ben seem to be dancing over. Jackson's Island is represented by trees and reflecting water.

The dancing male characters don't appear to have feet, their ankles just taper off into points. Tom and the fragment of whitewashed fence seems to have been inspired by Norman Rockwell's 1930's painted illustration. This Italian edition is copyrighted 2003 by Giunti Gruppo Editoriale, Firenze.



Promotional poster for the PBS broadcast of the 1990 TV movie adaptation of Mark Twain's LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI - we should have the DVD cover on one of our pages and this can join that post if you can locate it. In the poster an artist painted the likenesses of Robert Lansing as Pilot Horace Bixby and David Knell as Cub Pilot Sam Clemens with a representation of the JULIA BELLE SWAIN as the ALECK SCOTT. This poster courtesy of

Huck & Tom page

TOM SAWYER poster 1930's

A poster for Jackie Coogan's TOM SAWYER - first "talkie" of the Sam Clemens novel from the early 1930's. I had it restored and framed years ago.


Detail of a beautiful color photo of the Hannibal, MO excursion boat MARK TWAIN credited to "Dive Revan" on FLICKR.


A coffee can with a lithographed of a painting of Disneyland's MARK TWAIN

Wrap around lithograph of a painted illustration easily identified as having been based on the MARK TWAIN at Disneyland, is featured on this vintage coffee can from the 1950's or 60s measures 6.10 inches in diameter and 6.85 inches high. No brand name of a coffee company was included although originally a brand name could have been displayed on the lid or on a discardable paper or cellophane wrapper encircling the can. The name of the steamboat was painted twice at the stern in an indecipherable scrawl.


Yarns by the Yard - By R. V. Garber No. 1 Famous Whistle Creek Steamboats

Yarns by the Yard
By R. V. Garber

No. 1": Famous Whistle Creek Steamboats

pages 26 & 48

Time has blotted out old landmarks which might lead to the recalling of the one-time famous Whistle Creek and its steamboats, obliterated in 1811 by the New Madrid Earthquake which completely buried creek and boats for all time. Some of the old faithful descendants of rivermen still believe, as did their forefathers, that Whistle Creek and its steamboats is still in existence, now flowing under the ground as placidly as ever on its way to the Mississippi.

But Whistle Creek is only a memory. But what a memory! In 1800 steamboating on Whistle Creek was at its heighth and glory. The famous Tri-State Packet Line, owned by Captain Trio, was operating three steamers: the State of Collapse, State of De Jection, and the State of De Pendence. These boats are deserving of mention

The State of Collapse was built at New Orleans in 1790, out of the lumber from a dismantled whaling ship. She was the largest of the three boats, being 125 feet long and 32 feet wide. Because she was so long she could not be turned around in the Creek at any point, so a pilot house was built at both ends of her with a smoke stack behind each. Thus, when she reached the end of her run the pilots, like a motorman on a one-man street car, simply changed pilot houses and ran the boat backwards.

The State of De Jection was formerly owned by Captain Mellon Cholly of Vicksburg, Miss., who became so depressed after riding on her for one season that he committed suicide by jumping into her sternwheel. The De Jection was said to be the slowest steamboat ever built. It was known to be a fact that if sails were installed on her she would make better time in the calmest weather with her engines stopped, than she would with them going full speed ahead. It was Captain Mellon Cholly himself who gave the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge the inspiration for his poem, "Dejection: An Ode."

The State of De Pendence was built out of the old State of Coma which exploded in 1795, leaving her master, Captain De Linquent, in a profound condition of insensibility. He set to work to rebuild her, but when he got her finished he had used up all his fortune, so she was sold to the Tri-State Line who named her State of De Pendence because her usefulness after her explosion was always depending upon additional money for new parts. She was, however, unusually fast, which was believed the cause of her explosion. Often times if her engines were allowed to run full speed her wheels would revolve so fast they would suck all the water away from around her hull, and she would be seen scraping along the river bottom going from thirty to thirty-five miles an hour with mud flying in all directions.

The State of De Jection was in the peanut butter trade between Cairo, Ill., on the Mississippi and Poplar Bluff, Mo., on Whistle Creek. Because she was so slow the peanut butter concern moved their factory on the boat, and so peanuts loaded at Cairo were made into peanut butter, put into jars, and were ready for distribution by the time the De Jection reached port. The State of De Pendence was in the apple butter trade between Hamburg, Ill., on the Mississippi, and Poplar Bluff on Whistle Creek, a distance of 860 miles which this boat covered in a day and a half. She was so fast she would often be back at Hamburg before the apple pickers had gathered enough of the fruit to make another trip profitable. The State of Collapse ran in the cotton trade between Memphis, Tenn., on the Mississippi and Poplar Bluff on the Creek.

One night these three boats met in a triple collision at Dead Man's Elbow on Whistle Creek. The damage would have been slight had it not been for the terrific speed at which the De Pendence was traveling. As it happened, the State of Collapse was passing the State of De Jection just as the State of De Pendence whizzed around the Elbow unaware of the presence of her sister boats. She ran between the left bank and the State of De Jection, side-swiping her and pushing her against the port side of the State of Collapse which forced both these boats out of the creek and up on the right bank with peanut butter and cotton flying hither and yon. It was a terrible sight to see the stricken passengers and crew struggling through this sticky conglomeration which held them like flies in molasses. The peanut butter was worse than quicksand, while the cotton suffocated scores. Many believe that this mixture of peanut butter and cotton lead to the making of what is known today as "Karmel Carn."

The accident happened so quickly that the State of De Pendence reached port before she could stop or was aware of what had taken place. And that was the end of the State of Collapse. She was true to her name after that—a mass of wreckage high and dry on the bank where she remained until the earthquake buried her. The State of De Jection, however, was reconditioned, but she turned out to be slower than ever and never reached Cairo again because, on her first trip out her crew died of old age on the way.

The State of De Pendence remained in service and was not destroyed until the day of the New Madrid Earthquake when, in an effort to out-distance the earth tremors, she ran into some low-hanging trees and tore off her upper works while the hull, with the engines on it, ran wild across country for an hour and a quarter until her fuel supply gave out. She then make a perfect landing with her port side against a farm house which a second later was wrecked by the quake and collapsed just as the farmer and his family ran out to seek shelter in the hull.


Christmas themed steamboat replica REINDEER

Night time color photo by Jack Zehrt of a charming stylized sidewheel steamboat Christmas themed display taken at St. Louis Memorial Plaza in 1960.

Santa in the pilot house, nice variation on steamboat gingerbread along the boiler deck promenade, leaded glass windows on the bulkheads, sophisticated abstract design on the paddlebox. Would be interesting to new who the artist or artists were who designed this and put it together. It looks like it could have been right at home in the Pasadena Rose Parade. It has a spiritual quality symbolizing your faith in steamboats as floating guardian angels.

Mardigraw Chris'muss!

JACK J. ZEHRT (1920-2010), noted Midwest photographer, developed a unique, artistic photography style all his own during his 70-year career as a professional North American photographer.

From Route 66 to baseball players to space, St. Louis County photographer Jack Zehrt's wide range of photographs have appeared in ads, magazines, brochures, posters, bank checks, greeting cards and calendars worldwide.

Zehrt's career in photography started after high school in St. Louis, when he worked as a freelancer. A few years later he began working for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

In 1943, his first year at the Globe-Democrat, Zehrt won the AP's Picture of the Year award for capturing a glider carrying the St. Louis Mayor and nine others as it crashed to the ground. Zehrt was only 23.

Zehrt left the Globe-Democrat in 1955 to become a stock photographer, meaning he decided the subjects of his pictures and marketed them through a New York agency. Most notable are his photos of space, specifically his series of city skylines with the moon hovering above. He developed a relationship with NASA through his "astrophotography," the photographing of objects in space.

His collection also includes hundreds of photos from Route 66, dating to 1947. He made a 1999 calendar using photos only from the Missouri part of 66. Zehrt made several cameras. His portfolio contains remarkable collections of animals in the St. Louis Zoo, of St. Louis Cardinals and other famous baseball players and of construction of the Gateway Arch.

His sports photos have been in wide demand.


The original "Proud Mary" was the MARY ELIZABETH at Memphis

From the February 1932 NATIONAL WATERWAYS monthly on page 44 an ad for Wolf River Transportation's boats, the towboat JOHN M. WARNER (previously named the EL CAPITAN) and the tug boat MARY ELIZABETH that provided the inspiration for the popular song PROUD MARY.

The photos in the original ad were heavily screened and murky so I replaced them with a La Crosse photo of the EL CAPITAN (that was renamed JOHN M. WARNER when then Wolf River Transportation bought her 2 years prior to this advertisement) and the photo of the MARY ELIZABETH came from Jimmy Ogle's article (below).

Sternwheel towboat circa 1930 - 1937

Way's Steam Towboat Directory Number T1420

Originally the EL CAPITAN built in St. Louis in 1903.
109.6 x 26 x 3.5. Engines 12's - 6 1/2 foot stroke.
Renamed when bought by Wolf River Transportaion Co. of Memphis, Tennessee about 1930. They sold her to the Tennessee Valley Authoriy by 1937 and she was then renamed HIWASSEE, later NORMAN CRAWFORD.

PROUD MARY: The story of the MARY ELIZABETH from JIMMY OGLE'S site:

The MARY ELIZABETH was once referred to as the "Queen Mother of Memphis Towboats" for her service in the Memphis Harbor during the middle of the 20th century. Here's how the story unfolds:

The boat that became the inspiration for the "Proud Mary" was built in 1905 for the Lower Hudson Steamboat Company of New York. Originally named the SARAH A. JENKS A. Jenks and later, the OSSINING, she was used to transport convicted prisoners from New York City jails, up the Hudson River to the infamous Sing-Sing State Prison in Ossining, New York - thus explaining the true origin of the expression, "up the river"!

She was moved south in 1911, after being sold to the St. Tammany Steamship Company of Covington, Louisiana. The OSSINING spent the next four years being operated as a Ferry Boat over the 630 square mile Lake Ponchartrain.

In 1915 she was sold to Lyon Bros. of Greenville, Mississippi and used to run U.S. Mail from Greenville, upriver to Luna Landing, Arkansas. During this time, she was also converted from steam power to diesel power, which gave the OSSINING the distinction of being the first diesel power Ferry Boat on the Mississippi River.

After a dozen years, she was sold in 1928 to Warner & Tamble Inc. of Memphis, Tennessee. At this time she was refitted and remodeled into a Tow Boat, and rechristened to it's more familiar name, the MARY ELIZABETH, in honor of a family member of the new Memphis owner.

During her decades of service in Memphis, the MARY ELIZABETH was responsible for numerous duties. When the Harrahan Bridge burned in 1928, blocking all vehicle traffic for months until the roadway could be replaced, it was the Mary Elizabeth that ferried all commerce across the Mississippi River to Arkansas. She also transported over 3,000 head of cattle to river islands during the Dust Bowl era drought of 1934; performed salvage and rescue work during the big flood on the Wolf River in 1935; and worked throughout the area in rescue and levee work during the great flood of 1937. In 1939, she installed the first radio-telephone communication lines along the Wolf River and the Memphis Harbor. At this time, she also became the first Tow Boat on the Mississippi River to be equipped with a ship-to-shore radio.

In 1973, the MARY ELIZABETH was sold to Murphy Marine Service Inc. of Memphis. Murphy Marine ran her for a total of five years and then pulled her out of service.

1979 was to be the hardest year for the MARY ELIZABETH. Sold to a scrap dealer, George Perkins of Memphis, the MARY ELIZABETH was destined to be stripped and gutted. She had the first and second deck mid-ship house (The main superstructure located at the center of the ship.) removed and her engine pulled out. She was then stripped of all equipment, towed away and beached off the Lossahatchie River just above Memphis - only to rust from the merciless beating by the weather over the following seven years.

Hope of resurrection came in 1986 when the MARY ELIZABETH was sold to Proud Mary Restoration Inc. The hope grew as the first signs of restoration were seen in January, 1987. However, it was not to be. In 1988, during the all-time low of the river gage in Memphis (-10.7 in the second week of July), the MARY ELIZABETH began breaking up on the bank of the river and was hauled away for scrap.

During the 1960s, at the height of the Rock 'n' Roll era in Memphis, a deck hand on the MARY ELIZABETH wrote and composed a song he entitled, "Proud Mary" The song describes his feelings and experiences, his life and times aboard his ship, the MARY ELIZABETH. The song was published and recorded by John Fogerty of Creedance Clearwater Revival, and was also performed by other artists such as George Jones and Johnny Paycheck, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen and pop diva, Tina Tuner. Tina Turner's upbeat rendition was more in the early 1980s style of music and entitled "Rollin' On The River". The tune has become one of the most popular and enduring songs of our age and has been placed #155 on Rolling Stone's 2004 list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Many people that listen to the lyrics of the song, come away with the impression that the PROUD MARY was a steamboat pushed by sternwheel paddles - those "big wheels keep on turning . . ." Well I'm sorry, but you'd be wrong. In the riverboat vocabulary for tow boats, the word "wheels" often refers to the propellers under the boat that are turned by the engines. Another term is "screws" due to the propellers usually looking like oversized screws and while rotating to propel the vessel, they resemble a screw being turned. So in reality, the "big wheels that keep on turning" are under the tow boat, under water and out of sight, not the big paddlewheels seen behind a steamboat.

In 1993 my old friend, the late Capt. Jake Meanley (1948-2000) told me that in the 1970s when he was piloting ships for the MEMPHIS QUEEN LINE excursion company, he quite often used the MARY ELIZABETH through a lease agreement from Murphy Marine. She was used to push the MEMPHIS SHOWBOAT (barge) on countless moonlight river cruises. We can only guess at how many times that the bands were asked to play "Proud Mary."


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.*