Steamboat Photos, page 4



CAPITOL at New Orleans x 2 - 1920's

Have scanned the attached files from some tiny little proof prints that had been made from stereoview negatives by an outfit in London. Had expected these to be contact proofs from regular sized stereo negs but the graininess of the images suggests that they were made from 35mm negatives. Here are two of the Streckfus steamer CAPITOL at New Orleans credited to a photographer named J. Dearden Holmes circa the 1920's. The CAPITOL's short stacks looked rather truncated but they were probably designed that way for ease of passage under bridges.


Steamer CAPITOL on the OHIO at Marietta


Excursion steamer CAPITOL at Winona 1925

Attached 1925 photo of the CAPITOL at Winona, Minnesota. Frey could have been the name of the photographer. There was a New York City publisher of postcards named E. Frey & Co. circa 1903 to 1905 - a couple of decades earlier.

Congo sternwheeler SERPA PINTO for NORI exp

Here is an old photo of a small African sternwheel steamboat named SERPA PINTO after a Portuguese explorer and colonial administrator of southern Africa. The gentleman's full name was Alexandre Alberto da Rocha de Serpa Pinto, Viscount of Serpa Pinto ("Serpa Pinto" for short who was born in April of 1846, embarked on his African adventures during the 1860's and died in Portugal in December, 1900.

Portugal laid claim to the land on either side of the mouth of the Congo River in 1484 and ran naval patrols near the mouth of the Congo, exacting tariffs from British adventurers and entrepreneurs for the right to trade along the river, who would often traffic in slaves who began as captives stolen from rival tribes and then sold or traded to slave traders who transported them by sailing ships to the Americas.

This sternwheeler appears to date from sometime between 1915 and the 1930's.

Fore and aft are what appear to have been covered and mounted machine guns that patrols could use to intimidate or fire upon people considered to be trespassing on boats or on shore without paying the requisite tariff.

Of course this scenario is mostly conjectured, a historian specializing in the history of Southern Africa during the Colonial era could provide a more definitive story.

Illustrated engravings of this sort of craft could be found in boat yard catalogues aimed at a special clientele who would order boats for "Tropical Waters" that could be delivered assembled or in parts shipped by large ocean boats to the coast of Africa, South America and other tropical regions and assembled on the banks of a river and subsequently provide an efficient means of navigation for explorers, merchants & traders, missionaries and enterprising Captains who transported all manner of cargo from captured animals and ivory to civilian and enlisted passengers along narrow streams that wound their way through vast jungles often in uncharted territory.


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.


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.


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
Please contact for permission for commercial use.*

All captions provided by Dave Thomson, primary contributor and historian.