Steamboat Ephemera Gallery
Page One


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 Company 15229 Grand Island Road Walnut 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.


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 Books A 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
Adelaide, Australia

"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.


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.*