Steamboat Photos, Page 18


Skagit River sternwheeler BLACK PRINCE

The BLACK PRINCE on the Skagit River in Washington State

The following story and others about the BLACK PRINCE can be found at this link:

BLACK PRINCE sternwheeler by Ray Jordan

Though half a century has passed, nostalgic twinges grip the writer at times as he seems to hear the melodious whistle, faint and far away, of the old sternwheeler BLACK PRINCE as she boils up the Skagit River in Washington state with cool-headed Captain Forrest Elwell at the wheel.

Highlights of the career of the historic steamer were contained in a letter sent by Captain Elwell to the Skagit Valley Herald in 1964.

Captain F.M. Elwell, aged 84 in 1964, resided in Everett, Washington. Elwell's last tour of duty before retiring was with the Black Ball Line as Captain of one of the large ferries on Puget Sound.

Ray Jordan wrote the following which included excerpts from Captain Elwell's letter in quotation marks. This was published October 7th, 1964 in the Skagit Valley Herald:

"In the summer of 1900, Captain Charles Wright sold the City of Bothell and then the Snohomish and Skagit River Navigation Company was formed by Captain Charles Wright, Captain Charles Elwell, and Captain Vic Pinkerton. It was then decided to build a boat for towing on the Snohomish and Skagit rivers. Captain Charles Elwell made the hull model and Bob Houston was given the job of building the BLACK PRINCE."

Dimensions of the steamboat were: hull, 93 feet; over-all length, 112 feet; beam, 19 feet; depth of hold, 5 feet; tonnage measurement was 159 gross tons, according to the captain. When the hull and the superstructure were completed, she was towed to Seattle by the tug NELLIE PEARSON, where a pair of 10 X 48 steam engines and a 100 horsepower brickyard boiler, 150 working pressure, were installed.

"After completion, the Prince came back to Everett under her own power and then went to the Skagit to tow logs and pilling," Elwell wrote.

The first crew on the Prince in 1901, was Captain Elwell; Captain (Engr.) Wright; engineer Mike Hertzberg; Captain Pinkerton; Forrest Elwell, deck hand, and Wes Harbert, fireman.

"In the late summer of 1901, she made a trip between Novelty and Tolt. In 1902, the Prince took a two from Haskell Slough (near Monroe) to the mouth of the Snohomish River.

"On July 7, 1903, loaded 50 tons of machinery at Mount Vernon designated for the old Talc Mine about 12 miles above Marblemount. ( A former employee of the talc mine remembered the date as 1906. The distance was estimated in river miles. Mileage by automobile is about 6 miles. This trip took three days to get up the river and unload," the Captain continued.

To negotiate Stick's Riffle (named for the old Indian, Johnny Stick, who lived there) below Bacon Creek, the crew found it necessary to pay out 1200 feet of line and employ the boat's winch to pull the heavily laden PRINCE over this shallow, swift piece of water.

"Before this trip was made, Captains Wright and Elwell decided to decrease the diameter of the paddle wheel by about one foot. This was done to give a little more power on the wheel. "They also set up the safety valve another 10 pounds, carrying a boiler pressure of 160 pounds. After this trip, the wheel a safety valve were returned to their original settings."

This trip by the BLACK PRINCE may have been the farthest upstream penetration of a steamer sine the gold rush of 1880. One sternwheeler, the CHEHALIS, is reported to have reached the Portage, a mile or more above the old talc mine, during the gold excitement. One old-timer, who has lived on the river since 1877, is inclined to believe this. He says that a river-wise boat captain conceivably could have made it over the riffles above the talc mine during real high water. He added, however, that most of the gold rush steamers got no farther than Durand Riffle, a mile or so below Marblemount.

"In 1906, the Company operated a logging camp across the Skagit from Birdsview The logs were towed to the mouth of the Skagit and later to Utsaladdy by the PRINCE."

"The writer well remembers towing from Birdsview, and especially through the Dalles (above Birdsview) which is like the letter 'Z'. If you were lucky, okay, but if the raft broke up, you were in a mess, as logs would be all around and under the PRINCE, which would almost spin like a top.

"I also remember a trap (fish trap) pile that went through the bow, and as luck would have it, the pile tore a hole in the forward tank, or else the boat would have sunk. The PRINCE ran on the Skagit for some time before this hole was fixed."

"The first time (after the damage was done) that she took a tow to Utsaladdy, they put the PRINCE right on the beach and when the tide went out the hole was repaired."

In 1910, the Company sold the PRINCE and the T.C. REED to Elwell, Pinkerton, Ira Hall and Tom Meagher, who organized as the Washington Tugboat Company. Forrest Elwell was master of the PRINCE from 1907-1922.

Before the year of 1910 was out they sold out to the Puget Sound and Baker River Railroad (the logging line that hauled Dempsey and Lyman Timber Company, and later, Scott Paper Company logs down the river).

How the BLACK PRINCE got her name: Captain Wright had a dream that he had a boat that was all black and called the BLACK PRINCE, so that is where her name came from, Elwell recalled.

An excerpt from a paper read to members of the Everett Yacht Club reveals the fate of the colorful BLACK PRINCE:

"In 1922, Captain Harry Ramwell of the American Tugboat Company purchased the BLACK PRINCE. She was sold to the Everett Port Commission in the year of 1935 for one dollar. The Port Commission then turned her over to the Everett yacht Club."

"Time marches on and we found that the BLACK PRINCE was too small, too old, and too expensive to repair. She was dismantled in the late fall of 1956 to make room for a larger clubhouse." "As a memorial to the sternwheeler days, the paddlewheel of the BLACK PRINCE sits on the lawn of the Port Commission Office on the Everett waterfront."



Unusual steamboat captured in a 6 x 8 inch albumen print on heavy card. Very fancy decorative details on the prow, wrap around name board on the front of the pilot house, topped of by an eagle on a sphere on the roof of the pilot house. Apparently an excursion boat.

Quite different from the "Western River" boats style but I've come across images of similar boats based in St. Paul, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, possibly owned by prosperous businessmen who used them for entertaining family members and invited guests.

Written in pencil of the back of the card:

"Steamboat STARTLED FAWN Built 1875 in Philadelphia for Centennial Fair Transportation Purchased by Pentucket Navigation Co. in 1879 Newburyport to Haverhill Pictured here on the Merrimac River"

Online the boat is mentioned in the following:

Annual Report of the Supervising Inspector General U.S. Steamboat -Inspection Service 1901

Google Books page 299

Startled Fawn logged in at these locations:

Poughkeepsie, New York 1891 July 31, 1894

Shoreham, Vermont July 26, 1899

Essex, New York July 5, 1900


Smoke stacks knocked off a steamboat on the Minnesota River

This is a detail from one of my vintage albumen original cabinet cards that documents smoke stacks that had been knocked off a steamboat by a bridge or low hanging tree branches when the boat was traveling too close to shore. Jim Swift wrote an article on this image in the Waterways Journal during the 1980 1980's and if the text is located I will send more information. Fred Way may also have included this in an issue of THE REFLECTOR.

As I recall, Jim Swift wrote that this accident occurred on the Minnesota River in the vicinity of Shakopee, Minnesota which is southwest of Minneapolis-Saint Paul. The following excerpted from page 95 in a history of Renville County gives an account of navigation conditions on Minnesota rivers that made the knocking off of smoke stacks a common occurrence.

"The History of Renville County, Minnesota" compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge Member of the Minnesota Historical Society Published by H.C. Cooper Jr. amp; Co. Chicago, 1916 The time table of Louis Robert's fine packet, the TIME AND TIDE, shows the distance from St. Paul to Yellow Medicine to be 446 miles. To an old settler who actually traveled on a Minnesota river steamboat in those early days, the idea of a time table may seem rather amusing; for if there was anything more uncertain as to its coming and going, or more void of any idea of regularity, than a steamboat the old time traveler never heard of it.

Now stopping in some forest glen for wood, now tangled in the overhanging boughs of a tree with one or both smoke stacks demolished, now fast for hours on some sand bar, and now tied up to a tree to repair the damage done by some snag, while the passengers sat on the bank telling stories, or went hunting, or feasted on the luscious wild strawberries or juicy plums which grew abundantly in the valley, were common occurrences in steamboat travel.

Many a pioneer remembers the TIME AND TIDE, and how its jolly captain, Louis Robert, would sing out with sonorous voice, when the boat was about to start, "All aboard! Time and Tide waits for no man," and then add, with a sly twinkle in his eye, "and only a few minutes for a woman."

Though we of today may think such method of travel tedious, yet it had many pleasant features, and to the people of that time, unaccustomed to the "flyers" and "fast mails" of today, it seemed quite satisfactory.





The li'l MINNIE at Natchez-Under-the-Hill

Picturesque little steamer with colorful Mississippi River landing at Natchez-Under-the-Hill in the background. This image is featured in the 1987 Dover softcover pictorial book "The Mississippi Steamboat Era in Historic Photographs"


Way's Packet Directory Number 3959

Sternwheel steamboat built at California, Pennsylvania in 1869. 40 tons. 83.2 x 18 x 3.3.
Built for Capt. Samuel R. Bell, Franklin, Louisiana. This small-fry had a long career in the southland. First ran Minden-Loggy Bayou connecting with the LA BELLE for New Orleans.
In 1896 she was owned by the New Orleans amp; Washington Packet Co., with Capt. J.E. Trudeau listed as master.

The Mississippi Steamboat Era in Historic Photographs: Natchez to New Orleans, 1870-1920

Joan W. Gandy amp; Thomas H. Gandy, Editors
Dover Publications, 1987

5.0 out of 5 stars
ByLightningon December 14, 2006
This book is a wonderful look back at life in the South during the years after the Civil War. The MINNIE shown on page 62 used to pick up cotton from my grandfather's farm. Great photos of the boats, the trains, and the people.


Native Americans aboard the QUINCY

Unusual photograph of three Native American men seated in front of the texas cabin. They could have been traveling with the Wild West Show that was traveling between river towns aboard the QUINCY. From La Crosse Museum collection.


Florida SilverSprings Steamboat Approaches Dock circa mid 1880's

Detail of a classic photo circa mid 1880's, often reproduced . . . probably more than any other American Steamboat image. George Barker stands well alongside Ansel Adams whose photos of Yosemite and other locales in the American West are iconic.

Was able to download the Library of Congress file and retouched the obvious flaws then reduced it to 33 percent from which this is a detail

Steamboat approaching dock, view from the Morgan house, Silver Springs, Florida
Barker, George, 1844-1894, photographer

Date Created/Published: [Niagara Falls, N.Y. : Geo. Barker,] c1886 June 15.

1 photographic print : albumen.

No known restrictions on publication.

Call Number: LOT 3282 [item] [Pamp;P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Copyright by Geo. Barker.
Blind stamp: Barker, Photographer, Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Silver Springs is an unincorporated community in Marion County, Florida, United States. It is the site of Silver Springs, a group of artesian springs and a historic tourist attraction that is now part of Silver Springs State Park. One of Florida's first tourist attractions, the springs drew visitors even before the U.S. Civil War. Glass-bottom boats have been a popular way to see the 242-acre (98 ha) complex.


J.S. of the Strekfus line, starboard view.







1880's negatives aboard taken aboard steamboats

Six scans, the best of 17 glass negatives of steamboats, most of them 4x5 inches

These negs appear to date from the late 1800's and early 1900's and haD a multitude of flaws that took hours of Photoshop finessing to clean up. Results attached. I added the "Golden Hour" sepia tone effect, using an "ON1" effects option.

The three vertical format pictures I cropped to showcase First, the three gals around the bell, Second, the same 3 women seated in the foreground with 2 gents standing behind them and Third the searchlight attendant. This saved a lot of man hours cleaning up heavily spotted, less non-essential areas to the left and right of the central figures.

The 2 gents and 2 ladies seated on a bench behind the pilot house (whose visor was "buttoned up" while in port evidently; the pilot wheel is clearly visible through the open sliding window) are interesting folks. The fellow wearing the uniform cap may have been a pilot but possibly more likely a passenger who was loaned the cap by a member of the crew to wear while he was posing.

The other three ladies sitting on the porch of the texas cabin aboard the BELLE OF CALHOUN look like they're having a good time, the two on the left are wearing caps and a there is a pilot's cap placed upside down on the deck, lower left which may have been intended to have been worn by the bemused lady on the far right. The BELLE's name is stenciled on the two axes mounted to the bulkhead of the texas cabin.

A solitary gentleman sits on a table inside the main cabin of the BELLE OF CALHOUN. The interior is atmospherically illuminated primarily from sunshine through the portside skylights overhead and possibly from a door that was open into a stateroom whose secondary door opened from the room to the deck outside. The BELLE's name is painted high on the rear bulkhead of the cabin just below the ceiling.

Sternwheel Packet
Built at the Carondelet marine ways and completed at the St. Louis wharf in 1895 Became the JULIA in May of 1899; original name restored in 1905
Burned in winter 1930-1931 at Alton Slough

Original owner St. Louis and Clarksville Packet Company, Frederick W. Schwartz (president); Captain T.B. Sims owned her in 1897; 1898 owned by J.W. Fristoe, Frank P. Hearne and Captain Byrd Burton; May 1899 sold to Memphis and Vicksburg Packet Company; name changed to JULIA; 1905 owned by the St. Louis and Calhoun Packet Corporation, Captain Lee Cummings and name reverted to BELLE OF CALHOUN; 1913 owned by Captain H.W. Sebastian

Original crew, 1895, Captain Aaron Hall (master), Joe Chatterton and Harry H. Monaghan (pilots), Edward Young (first clerk), Zollie Block (second clerk), Oliver Cotrell (chief engineer) and William Tracy (mate). H.S. Ruby (pilot); 1913, Captain George Carvell (master), Captain Roy Watson (master), William Blaine (steward); 1914 and 1915, Selby Crader (pilot); 1915, William Bush (pilot); 1917, Captain Ed Nowland (master)

Way's Packet Directory Number 0516

The BELLE OF CALHOUN was named for Miss Anna Wood, chosen as the "belle of Calhoun County, Illinois" in a contest run by the Hardin Herald. She later married Zollie Block. In 1895 the Waterways Journal ran a contest for the most popular packet crew members out of St. Louis. The BELLE OF CALHOUN hauled off all honors. On May 27, 1896 she was badly damaged by the tornado at St. Louis and sank up to the cabin; was raised and repaired. October 1914 she sank four miles above Alton with 4,700 barrels of apples. Her head was on shore and the stern in 20 feet. About 800 barrels were lost. Again she was raised and repaired. In October 1929 she once again sank about three miles above Hannibal, Missouri and was raised.


From John Hartford's personal collection

Photograph of the steamboat PARK CITY from John Hartford's personal collection from which Ralph Du Pae of LaCrosse, Wisconsin kindly had an 11 x 14 print made for me Included are 4 musicians, what appear to be 3 members of the crew, 11 passengers and a pilot at the wheel in the pilot house.

Players with their instruments: Clarinet, Fiddle, Guitar & the Bass Fiddle player who appears to resemble actor Paul Newman.

Boat was in motion as evidenced by the "action blur" on foliage behind the boat during the camera's brief time-exposure.

Sternwheel Packet

Owned by Captain E.W. Bewley
Clerks: Jake Kittinger; J. Edgar Williams (clerk); Jett Hines (clerk)
Ran on the Ohio River; Green River; Kentucky River

Way's Packet Directory Number 4392
Built in 1883 at Brownsville, Pennsylvania as the GAYOSO. Her name was changed to PARK CITY in 1897. In the beginning of her career, she ran Evansville-Green River. Later on, she went to the Kentucky River where, on December 6, 1909 near Glenmary, Kentucky she was lost due to a peculiar accident. She had a large shipment of whiskey in barrels and cases on board. As the boat rolled while approaching the landing, one of the barrels fell from its place high on the main deck, crashed through the deck and into the hold, went through the bottom planking and sank the PARK CITY. The total loss was $7000 to the steamer and $1000 for the cargo.


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
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