Steamboat Photos, Page 17


Talisman steamboat on the Sangamon at New Salem, Illinois

Two photos I took during the 1990's of the replica riverboat TALISMAN on the Sangamon River at Lincoln's New Salem in Illinois which was a village where young Abe Lincoln lived from 1831 to 1837.

The following paragraph about the TALISMAN replica comes from the Wikipedia article on Lincoln's New Salem. Wikipedia

In the summer of 1961, after a period of design and fabrication, a 73-foot, 40-ton, upper-cabin sternwheel steamboat made its way from Dubuque, Iowa to New Salem by way of the Mississippi River, Illinois River, and the Sangamon River. The steamer, christened the Talisman, was a scaled-down recreation of the original boat that ventured from Cincinnati, Ohio, down the Ohio River, up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, and into central Illinois on the Sangamon under the charter of Springfield businessman Vincent Bogue in 1832. The original Talisman was actually a 136-foot, 150-ton steamer, and may or may not have been a sidewheel boat. Lincoln helped clear obstructions from the riverbanks on the Talisman's trip upriver, and co-piloted the steamer with Rowan Herndon back to Beardstown. The recreation boat was given a landing next to the Rutledge Camron Saw and Grist Mill site on the riverbank, and tourists had the opportunity to take short excursions on the river. Unfortunately, just like the original Talisman, the recreated steamer was plagued by low water levels on the river which gradually diminished in the years following its arrival at New Salem, which made navigation difficult to impossible. The boat was finally grounded in the late 1990s a few miles upriver from the historical site, and now serves as a large lawn decoration about a hundred feet from the riverbank/

Further history of the original TALISMAN from Sangamon County Historical Society's site: Talisman steamboat

Posted on October 6, 2013 by editor Sangamon County Historical Society

A historical marker at an Interstate 55 rest area east of Springfield, Illinois remembers the steamboat TALISMAN's voyage.

The TALISMAN, a "splendid upper cabin steamer," left Cincinnati on Feb. 2, 1832, bound for Springfield via the Ohio, Mississippi, Illinois and—most importantly to central Illinoisans—the Sangamon rivers.

The venture raised hopes that the Sangamon could be a practical shipping route between Sangamon County and bigger markets to the south and east.

John Carroll Power explained the problem in his History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois (1876).

"To the first settlers of Illinois (transportation) was of unusual importance, on account of the vast extent of undrained soil, so rich and soft as to be almost impassible, in its natural state, for half of every year.

For the transportation of heavy articles long distances, no other mode was though of except by water. They could be conveyed three or four times the distance in that way, much cheaper than on a straight line by any known method."

The TALISMAN duly arrived at Portland Landing near Springfield in late March, prompting an outburst of optimism for the future of Sangamon River traffic.

"Springfield can no longer be considered an inland town," the Sangamo Journal gushed on March 29. ". . . The result which must follow the successful termination of this enterprise to our county, and to those counties lying in its neighborhood, it would be impossible to calculate."

The problem was that the Sangamon's water level fell after the TALISMANT arrived. As a result, even after its cargo was unloaded, the Talisman—which was 136 feet long and had a beam of 48 feet—didn't have enough room to turn around for the return trip. It had to steam backwards for much of the 100 miles downstream to Beardstown. (Abraham Lincoln, then a resident of New Salem, was hired as assistant pilot for the return trip; he was paid $40 for his efforts.)

"The only mention ever made of her afterwards," Power wrote of the steamboat, "was a newspaper report that the Talisman was burned at the wharf in St. Louis. . . . No attempt was ever made after that to bring a boat up the river.*

"Thus ended the dream of navigating the Sangamo (sic), across which a man may walk almost dry shod for nearly half of every year."

The site of Portland Landing and the story of the TALISMAN's attempt to open the Sangamon to shipping are the subjects of a historical marker at the Interstate 55 northbound rest area northeast of Springfield.

Portland Landing was three-quarters of a mile west of the rest area.

*Note: Despite Power's statement, there apparently was one more attempt to bring large-scale freight traffic to the Sangamon. The steamboat UTILITY went upstream in 1836, but it got stuck at Petersburg and ultimately was dismantled.

As it happened, work began two years later to build the Northern Cross Railroad between Springfield and the Illinois River. Once railroads reached Springfield- the first Northern Cross train arrived in 1842—there no longer was any need to open the Sangamon to steamboats.

Original content copyright Sangamon County Historical Society. You are free to republish this content as long as credit is given to the Society.


Winona Odd Couple on the Winking WILKIE

A little early morning kitsch for y'all.

A promotional photo of a Winona couple in mellerdrammer costumes posing on the fantail of the JULIUS C. WILKIE. Is that gent wearing sneakers with his costume? Former Queen and King of the Prom from a few years earlier maybe? The WILKIE was "converted" from a perfectly respectable retired towboat into a "pseudo packet boat" for the tourist trade.


The M.V. SERGEANT FLOYD at Sioux City

The M.V. (Motor Vessel) SERGEANT FLOYD was built as an inspection boat of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, in a color photograph taken by Jerry J. Pospeshil while the boat was still afloat and docked during one of the annual River-Cade Celebrations that were initiated in Sioux City, Iowa in 1964.

The FLOYD was built in 1932, is 133 feet long, displaced 306 tons, and its draft is 36 inches. It was named in honor of Sergeant Charles Floyd, the only man who died on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. After it was decommissioned it was brought to Sioux City on the Missouri River in 1983 where it is dry-docked and serves as a Welcome Center for the tri-state areas of Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. It is located at 1000 Larsen Park Road in Chris Larsen Park.

Sergeant Floyd River Museum & Welcome Center link:


Photo of seven identified steamboats taken at Cincinnati in 1904

Taken at Cincinnati, Ohio in 1904.
Steamboats at wharf giving off lots of smoke from a number of stacks

The seven boats in the foreground have been identified as:


Apparently the 8th boat in the distance on the far left was too far away to be identified.

A print of this exists in the collection of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia; the attached scan was made from a print obtained from an eBay auction.



Beautiful photo of the DANDELION at Keokuk. Quite a few of the houses on the hill in the distance are still standing in that part of town which I have visited often. Nearby this location is where the towboat GEO. M. VERITY has been preserved on dry land since the early 1960's and there is a museum aboard that welcomes visitors.

Sternwheel Lighthouse Tender
Way's Packet Directory Number 1438

Sternwheel lighthouse tender that was originally built as the rafter F. WEYERHAEUSER at Rock Island, Illinois in 1893. She 140 feet long, 31 feet wide with a draft of 4 and a half feet. Engines were 15's - 7 feet. The U.S. Lighthouse Service used her on the Upper Mississippi and sold her at Rock Island in October 1927 to boat broker John K. Klein. She was lost in a collision with the towboat HERBERT HOOVER at Cairo, Illinois in February, 1929.



The River and Harbor Convention, St. Paul, Minnesota 4 Sept 1885

Vintage document from ye olden days of St. Paul accompanied by a 1905 photo of the Hotel Ryan

The Citizens of Saint Paul (Minnesota) tender their compliments and request the pleasure of your presence at a Reception to be given in honor of the delegates to The River and Harbor Convention, at Hotel Ryan, Friday, September Fourth 1885 at Eight o'clock P.M.

Inside the invitation are two pages of events and names of V.I.P. guests

Synopsis - "Programme"

State and City representatives who were to receive the guests "in the parlors" from 8:30 to 9:30 PM included Governor L.F. Hubbard and 5 ex-governors

Mayor Edmund Rice

General John B. Sanborn, President of the the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce
Honorable R.A. Smith, President Common Council, City of St. Paul

Refreshments at 9:00 o'clock

"Committees" included "Common Council," "Chamber of Commerce," and "Jobbers Union"

The Introduction was to be given by D.A. Monfort, Chairman, 10 Chamber members to be present

At the bottom of the 2nd page are the words "White Badge" - the significance of which is not known.

The Ryan Hotel by Historic Buildings of Minnesota on Facebook

One of Twin Cities most luxurious hotels of the late 19th century was the Ryan Hotel in St. Paul. The founding and construction of the hotel was funded by Dennis Ryan, who had made a fortune mining gold and silver. The building was designed by architect James J. Egan, who came up with a huge Victorian Gothic creation that would be a landmark in St. Paul for years to come. Red brick and white sandstone were used to construct the huge walls. Terra cotta ornament, granite columns, arched windows, and bracketed balconies decorated the front façade. Out of the steep roof popped dormers, towers, and spires. The interior public spaces consisted of a bar, parlors, ladies rooms, a ballroom, and a billiards hall. The rest of the hotel held 335 sleeping apartments that ranged in size from one to six rooms. 300 had at least one fireplace and 100 had private baths. The Ryan had a long life of good service and even up to the end it was considered a decent hotel, but when it was losing too much money the owners decided to close it. In 1962 the building was demolished only to be replaced by a parking lot. The Minnesota Mutual Insurance Company building now occupies the site.


Sternwheeler MYRA H. Rome, Georgia

Attached composite of 6 photos and Doug Walker's article relevant to the proposed restoration of the picturesque 1932 sternwheeler MYRA H. from the Rome, Georgia News Tribune from 2016.

Talks underway for restoration of Myra H. a riverboat that last cruised 70 years ago Local historian and storyteller Bob Harris is taking the lead in an effort to restore and perpetually preserve the 60-foot-long Myra H.

By Doug Walker
Feb 7, 2016


The old paddleboat is all that's left of those boats that once traveled nature's original interstate system in the Rome area. The Myra H was built by Roman Pierce Harris, no relation to Bob, in 1932. He named it for his daughter Myra Harris.

During a flood in the mid-1940s, the boat broke loose from its mooring but Pierce Harris managed to dry dock it on a farm off Collier Road near the Oostanaula River. He was a caretaker on the farm and used the boat as a retreat, a cabin-like type of getaway.

Pierce Harris's granddaughter Kyle Vasser recalls spending a lot of time playing on the boat as a child. She remembers the big pilot wheel, four bunk beds, a wood burning stove and ice box that made it a great place to play. "I would play on the back, do gymnastic-like things on the paddle wheels, it was an awesome place to hang out," Vasser said.

Linda Studard, another granddaughter, said she believes her grandfather donated the boat to the Junior Service League in 1983, which moved it to the Chieftains Museum property on Riverside Parkway. Years passed and the boat was moved to Mayo's Bar Lock & Dam on the Coosa River where it remains today.

"She is now in horrible shape. Her forward deck has got huge gaping holes in it. It's got a window knocked out, a paddle is gone again," Bob Harris said. "It was my granddaddy's heart and soul," Studard said. "I'd love to see it maintained."

Bob Harris has been knocking around the idea restoring the boat and moving it to a location adjacent to the River Education Center at Ridge Ferry Park and making part of the river-related nature center at the park. Harris said the priority is finding a place where the boat can be protected from the weather while it is restored.

His idea is to put major supports into the ground next to the deck by the River Education Center. The boat could be put on the supports and covered with a roof extended over the deck.

"That's a big wish," Harris admitted.

Ben Winkelman, who manages the center, said he has spoken with Harris but nothing has been finalized.

"We're just basically talking around over a cup of coffee about what ifs," Winkelman said

He recognizes there is considerable interest in riverboat history. Rome City Manager Sammy Rich has also talked with Harris.

"We could preserve it and use it in educational way so I think there are some neat opportunities and ideas that need to be further explored," Rich said.

"It's no great luxury ship, I just don't want to lose her," Harris said. "The Myra H used to go up and down this river and it's all that's left.

We have one last example of a riverboat that used to go up and down here all the time."

Vasser and her stepbrother, Jimmy Lovelace, are supportive of Harris's efforts to restore the boat and have it put on display in a more appropriate location.

"We have threatened to go and kidnap that thing; it's hard to watch it go down like it has," Vasser said.

"It's everybody's challenge to make this happen," Lovelace said. "Right now it's like watching history fall apart.


Back in March of 2011 I acquired the attached photo on eBay and handwritten on the back was "taken near Natchez, MISS."

At first I thought the little towboat was called the BETTY. E, then realized there was no period between the last two letters.

Googling Natchez and Bettye took me to the article below from the end of 2010 in the Natchez paper.

The following day I called the office of Vidalia Dock and Storage where the grand daughter Sarah Wisner answered the phone. I described the photo to her and told her that if she, her mother and grandmother would like to see the picture that I'd e-mail it to her. She gave me her e-mail address and her mother's.

Grandma Bettye (whose maiden name was McGehee I discovered on Elodie Pritchartt's Natchez blog) told her daughter Carla what she remembered about the boat and Carla called me.

Bettye's father had a plant that made boxes in Natchez and he bought the little towboat, evidently in part to help in handling barges upon which his boxes were sometimes shipped if they weren't be transported by train. Papa named the BETTYE after his daughter. She remembered especially being in the car with her Papa when they were driving down to the river where the boat that was named after her was visible to them. This was June 14, 1940 and news came on the car radio that Paris had fallen to the Nazis. Carla was surprised to hear this story which her Mother had never told her before. By doing the math on how old Carla said her mother was in 2011, she would have been 14 in 1940. Bettye told Carla that the photo would date sometime between the middle of the 1930's to the middle of the 1940's since her father sold the boat after 1945.

I thought the spelling of Bettye was unusual but from what I've found online so far it's a fairly common spelling in the South.

I superimposed the photo from the Natchez paper of the three generations, Sarah the grand daughter, Bettye the grandmother and her daughter Carla who is Sarah's mother. The focus on the photo of the ladies carries all the way to Natchez on the opposite shore where you can see the casino boat at Natchez-Under-the-Hill, which was designed to look like be a big old fashioned sidewheeler.

Three generations lead Vidalia Dock and Storage

By Jennifer Edwards
The Natchez Democrat
Sunday, January 31, 2010

NATCHEZ - Bettye Jenkins, Carla Jenkins and Sarah Wisner share more than genes.

The three generations of ladies also share a bond with the Mississippi River that they all said has their blood laced with the muddy water of the Mississippi.

The ladies are the driving forces behind operations at Vidalia Dock and Storage and Two J Ranch in Vidalia.

Bettye Jenkins, the matriarch of the group, began Vidalia Dock and Storage in 1956 with her husband. Her daughter, Carla, followed "as soon as she was old enough," and Wisner, Carla's daughter, joined the team following her May 2009 graduation from Mississippi State University.

The trio handles the day-to-day operations of both businesses.

"You never know what you are going to come in and find on your desk," Wisner said. "You could come in and have to start weighing trucks or jump on the loader or do dispatch for boats coming in.

"It's never boring."

It is that "never still for long" kind of work that has its hooks in the ladies, Bettye Jenkins said.

"Working on the river, that's just what we have always done," she said. "The work and the river has always been exciting for us."

For Carla Jenkins, the river hooked her at an early age.

"From the time I was old enough to get in the car and come to work with my dad, that is all I wanted to do," Carla Jenkins said. "I've always known this is what I wanted to do. "It gets in your blood and you really can't get it out."

Vidalia Dock and Storage provides tug services for area river facilities, services grain elevators and also has boats that work up and down the river. Two J Ranch sells limestone rocks for construction and landscaping projects of all sizes.

"We are family businesses," Bettye Jenkins said. "We treat everyone like family."

Wisner said after graduating college she thought she'd find a job outside of Vidalia or Natchez, but the pull of the river was just too strong.

During high school and college, Wisner would work holidays and summer vacations at the business, but never thought of making it a permanent job. After her May graduation, she wanted to come back to the family business "just for the summer," she said.

But after a few months of working fulltime, Wisner said she could never think of working anywhere else.

"After being here for a few months, I didn't want to leave," she said. "I enjoyed the work too much and being here with family just made it better."

Carla Jenkins said she learned the business from her parents and now having the chance to pass along the knowledge to her daughter "is a blessing."

"Of all my three children, she is the one I least expected to come back and work on the river with us," she said. "But you can tell it is in her now. She loves it and we love having her here."

Wisner handles a good bit of the office work including billing, collections and safety management, but she said her job isn't at all confined to her desk.

"We all have to learn to do everything, because you have to pick up for someone if they aren't around," she said. "You can't just say 'I don't know how to do that'

"In our business, since there are just a few of us, you have to know how to do it all."

Wisner learned to do much of her daily work, by shadowing her grandmother.

"She's 83, works fulltime and is as sharp as a tack," Wisner said. "I'm glad I can take some of her work load off of her, but she'll still work every day."

Jenkins said retirement or even working part time isn't in her plans anytime soon.

"There is only so much bridge you can play," she said. "I still enjoy the work and can still do it, so I see no reason to stop now."

The ladies of Vidalia, Louisiana's Dock & Storage Company on the Mississippi River

Elodie Pritchartt of Natchez, Mississippi just notified me of the following from THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT 15 November 2017 which you can add as a "tag" after the article on The Vidalia Dock & Storage Company:

Bettye Jenkins was honored as Natchez Woman of the Year!!!!

We Love You Mrs. Bettye Last evening at the Natchez Chamber of Commerce Gala, our very own Mrs. Bettye Jenkins was honored as Natchez Woman of the Year!!!!

We are so blessed to have her as not only a member, but Past President, PGC Board of Directors, Homeowner and Treasurer for the past many years!!

Mrs. Bettye is a wonderful example of Southern Charm, Grace and a True Steel Magnolia!!

Thank You for ALL You Do for the Pilgrimage Garden Club!!

We love you!! Genny

Pilgrimage Garden Club
410 N Commerce
Natchez, MS 39120


Sternwheel Packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 1107

Built at Jeffersonville, Indiana by Howard, 1908 cost $10,000 the merchants of Muskogee, Oklahoma and on her first trip up the Arkansas was "on a grand tour with freight and tourists aboard." C.N. Haskell, who became governor of Oklahoma was one of the Muskogee persons who built her. She ran between Webbers Falls, Oklahoma (the river landing for Muskogee) and Fort Smith, Arkansas. Low water and lack of freight defeated the project and she lay near Muskogee several years, then was bought in 1918 by Inman Packet Company. They ran her Newport, Arkansas to Black Rock, Arkansas on the White and Black rivers. She later ran Newport-Colver Bend to the F.W. Tucker plantation 25 miles below Black Rock. Then ran Crocketts Bluff to Rosedale, Mississippi handling rice for reshipment on the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad. Sold in 1918 to New Orleans, she was renamed Loraine K in 1922.


B.F. YOAKUM Sidewheel railroad transfer steamer

This is a good photo just received today. I plumbed it and removed the flaws, converting it to grayscale from sepia. The contrast and detail appears to be stronger this way. We have several other photos of railroad transfer steamers and together they can get their own page one of these days. We also have an illustration of a railroad transfer steamer that served the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad that could go with the photos.

Sidewheel railroad transfer steamer

Way's Packet Directory Number 0416

Built at Dubuque, Iowa 1910, 308 x 53.8 x 7.6
Engines 26's - 10 feet - Four boilers, each 72 by 18 feet.

Owned by the Frisco Railroad and operated at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her name was changed to WILLARD V. KING by the New Orleans, Texas & Mexico Railroad Co. prior to 1925.

The Missouri-Pacific brought her to St. Louis in 1927 and she continued there until January 1940 when the transfer business was discontinued.


The ILLINOIS 1901-1930 and her colorful history of Girls & Moonshine

Scanned from a tiny snapshot. Below is the colorful "shady" history of the steamboat by Fred Way in his directory. The photo must post date 1901 since that is when the former REINDEER was rebuilt and renamed ILLINOIS:

Way's Packet Directory Number 2737
Sternwheel packet boat.
Built in Dubuque, Iowa, 1888. Originally named REINDEER of Illinois State Fish Commission.

She was condemned in 1901, rebuilt at Quincy, Illinois and renamed.
Hull measured 139 x 26.6 x 4.8.
Engines, 12's- 6 1/2 ft. Two boilers. The fish commission operated her until 1913 when Governor Dunn ordered her detached on the grounds that certain convivial politicians and their no less convivial ladies had abused the uses for which the boat had been intended. She was turned over to the Alton Division of the Naval Reserves. In 1925 was owned by the New St. Louis & Calhoun Packet Co., who used her both as packet and towboat. In 1929 sold to Phillips Bros. and on Sept. 30, 1930, she burned in mid-river above the mouth of Wood River, Alton, Illinois. There was rumor she had been in use as a distillery with a moonshine still aboard, and had been cut adrift when the Federals were about to arrive.


Aboard the steamer QUEEN on the St. Joe River in Idaho

Attached is a scan I made from a sharp focus 11 x 14 glossy print. Someone had done some heavy-handed retouching directly on it, outlining with a paint brush the 9 men and a boy in the picture. I subdued the retouching in Photoshop which was time consuming but rewarding as far as I was able to take it.

Lewis Verduyn in New Zealand did some research and is pretty confident that the fish that the anglers were showing off were bass, not trout (who are more "sleek) according to him.

So, in conclusion, I changed the identification of the fish from trout to bass in the caption below:

The QUEEN was built by J. Herbert Lyon.

It could move five carloads of freight at once, with a barge lashed on to each side while pushing another barge ahead.

Written on the back of the print:

"Captain C.A. Waters in front of the pilot house Red Collar Line St. Joe run C & A"

On deck are 8 men, a boy and 5 bass.


Steam navigation on Lake Coeur d'Alene in Kootenai County, Idaho lasted from the 1880s to the 1930s. More steamboats operated on Lake Coeur d'Alene than on any other lake west of the Great Lakes. The high point of steam navigation was probably from 1908 to 1913. After that railroads, and increasingly automobile and truck traffic on newly built highways supplanted steam navigation, although some vessels continued to be operated unit the mid-1930s.

In September 1908, the Red Collar steamship line operated seven steamers on Lake Coeur d'Alene, which was 27 miles, running mainly in a north-south direction.The main city on the lake was Coeur d'Alene, at the northern, downstream end. By 1908 the city of Coeur d'Alene was connected by steam and electric rail lines to Spokane, Washington, about 30 miles to the west. The lake varied from 50 to 400 feet deep, and with the adjacent navigable St. Joe River, formed a natural water route just over 60 miles long.

The St. Joe River:

At the far southern end of the lake, flowing in from an easterly direction, was the St. Joe River, which was navigable for some distance. The St. Joe river was about 2,100 feet elevation above sea level, and it was claimed that it was the highest navigable river in the world.

The St. Joe river valley was about two miles wide where the river flowed into the lake, narrowing to about one-quarter mile at the head of navigation. Within the valley, the river itself was reported to be at least 150 feet wide and 20 feet deep.

Points on the river included Ramsdell, Hell's Gulch, Cosmos, St. Maries, Ducommon, St. Joe City, and Ferrell, or Ferrell's, generally considered the head of navigation on the St. Joe. However, in 1896, the steamer ELK, under the command of Captain Reynolds, was able to reach Cottonwood Island, twelve miles upriver from Ferrell's.


JONATHAN PADELFORD winter on the Upper Mississippi

JONATHAN PADELFORD in winterquarters on the frozen Upper Mississippi River at St. Paul. We don't have a credit for this image but will be glad to give one if anyone knows who the photographer is.

Port Saint Paul, Minnesota

Built 1970 at Dubuque, Iowa

Captain Jim Kosmo

One of the few truly authentic sternwheelers on the Mississippi River, the all-steel vessel is named for the tenth great maternal grandfather of Capt. William D. Bowell, Sr., founder of Padelford Riverboats. The engines are identical to the old steam engines but run hydraulically. The sound of the steam is still there. Its overall length is 125 feet with a 24-foot beam. Coast Guard licensed to carry 200.


Padelford Riverboats LOGO and Souvenir Crew Cap

JONATHAN PADELFORD in winterquarters on the frozen Upper Mississippi River at St. Paul. We don't have a credit for this image but will be glad to give one if anyone knows who the photographer is.

Port Saint Paul, Minnesota
Built 1970 at Dubuque, Iowa
Captain Jim Kosmo
One of the few truly authentic sternwheelers on the Mississippi River, the all-steel vessel is named for the tenth great maternal grandfather of Capt. William D. Bowell, Sr., founder of Padelford Riverboats.

The engines are identical to the old steam engines but run hydraulically. The sound of the steam is still there. Its overall length is 125 feet with a 24-foot beam. Coast Guard licensed to carry 200.


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everything on this page is from a private collection.
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