Steamboat Photos, page 7


The steamboat TENNESSEE BELLE en route to Shiloh battlefield 1927

Remarkable photo from 1927 in the LaCrosse collection commemorating a pilgrimage made by survivors of the Battle of Shiloh on the 65th anniversary of the Civil War battle that the Union won on the Tennessee River at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. I have a an old brochure advertising cruises to Shiloh battlefield which I'll scan samples of to go with this later.




The Island Queen, Cincinnati, Ohio

Detroit Publishing Co.

Published July 18, 1906

"Port side view of Excursion Steamer - The Coney Island C.O.S ISLAND QUEEN with many passengers on the decks."

Library of Congress

Sidewheel Excursion boat

Way's Packet Directory Number 2799

Built at Cincinnati, Ohio, by Cincinnati Marine Railway Company, 1896 for the Coney Island Company, Cincinnati
Reported to have a carrying capacity of 4,000, she operated between Cincinnati and the Coney Island amusement park upstream; her partner boat in the Coney run was the PRINCESS until 1918, and then the MORNING STAR. The ISLAND QUEEN tramped in off seasons, was at New Orleans but never above Pomeroy on the Ohio. Captain McIntyre was the first master; James DuPuy became master next and was with the boat 28 years. Captain Ben I. Pattison succeeded DuPuy as master. Homer Denney played the calliope. In January 1918 she broke loose in ice and drifted below Madison, Indiana, where she was safely landed and taken to the Louisville Canal. Upbound from Cincinnati to Point Pleasant on April 27, 1922, during a marine celebration of the centennial of the birth of U. S. Grant, the forward hurricane deck collapsed, injuring 28 boys. The ISLAND QUEEN and her partner boat MORNING STAR burned at Cincinnati, November 4, 1922, along with the TACOMA and THE CHRIS GREENE.


ISLAND QUEEN excursion boat with many gentlemen passengers on board

This just arrived today of the excursion steamboat ISLAND QUEEN photographed with a huge contingent of gentlemen who may have been attending a convention in Pittsburgh, PA since this looks like it could have been taken in the vicinity of that city. On the back is rubber stamped "C.P. Baldridge MacDougall, New York." It may be that the attendees of the convention were from New York state and the photographer Baldridge could have been along to document occasions like this which probably occurred during a daytime cruise on the Ohio River or one of the nearby tributaries.


In this photo of Henry Ford's SUWANEE out of the water & being worked on, the paddlewheel appears to be on backwards. The "buckets" (boards) should have been strapped on the opposite way than they are in the photo. The way they are attached would be logical if the boat moved mostly backwards most of the time but not forward.

John Fryant concurred about the paddlewheel:

"Someone goofed and either got the buckets on backwards, or they put the whole wheel on backwards, as you suspected."

An April 9, 1989 DETROIT Michigan NEWS photo captioned:

"Greenfield Village carpenters Alan Dobies (kneeling) and Dennis Morrison work on the starboard brace supporting the sternwheel on the steamboat SUWANEE."

During the late 1920's and early 1930's Henry Ford moved historical buildings from all over the United States (and one from England) and reconstructed them on a 90 acre meadow/pasture/prairie at Dearborn, Michigan. Among these structures is Thomas Edison's original laboratory from Menlo Park, New Jersey and the Wright Brothers' cycle shop from Dayton, Ohio where they began assembling their first airplane.

A gentleman who calls himself Historical Ken has created a blog called "Greenfield Village Open-Air Museum: A personal tribute to the finest open-air museum anywhere" which he first posted on July 8, 2008.

Below are excerpts from Ken's history of the Suwanee.

"Thomas Edison, while in Florida, would travel the waterways on a boat named SUWANEE, a 19th century steamer. The boat sank and all that Henry Ford could salvage was the engine. In 1929 Ford brought the boat's one-time captain, Conrad Menge, to Dearborn to help in the re-building of the boat which would operate at Greenfield Village.

In March 1937, Ford dredged a loop of the Rouge River to create a circular Suwanee Lagoon.

The steamboat sat idle much of the time, however, but, gradually, this icon of 19th century Americana gained in popularity and proved to be one of the most popular rides in the Village.

A River Rouge flood nearly destroyed the old boat in 1968. The flood waters seriously damaged the hall and part of the decks. But, in 1969, it underwent reconstruction and, by spring of 1970, was up and running once again.

After the summer of 2004, the SUWANEE was idle once again - then, during the winter of 2011, the old girl was taken apart, board by board."


. . . and here's the SUWANEE on Greenfield Village's "lagoon" . . .

SUWANEE greenfield village out of water 40 percent EXP

Suwanee, Greenfield Village.


Two of my favorite photos from the Murphy Library site.

They were identified as the ED HECKMANN but that's probably not the case, Ed Heckmann may have taken the photos.

Ed's brothers John and William "Steamboat Bill" Heckmann had boats named after him, but as far as I can tell the other brothers Ed, Fred and Lewis apparently did not.

Only a few letters on the pilot house are vaguely visible and they don't suggest to me that Heckmann was part of the name. The Missouri River was where the Heckmanns ran their boats. They lived in charming Hermann, MO on the Missouri that I've visited quite a few times.

Great photos, gives an almost "you are there" 3D when you look at them. Ideal for a model maker to work from with so many details in the unusual angles the photos were taken from.

The boat may have been pushing a show boat or a "quarter boat" on a barge where the person with the camera could have been standing.

The photo on the left had a big cable running diagonally across it from upper left to lower right and it took me a long time to "erase" it in photo shop and fill in the details that were concealed by the cable.

I visited Ed Heckmann's daughter Dorothy at her home in Hermann during the 90s, she wrote 3 memoirs available on about her steamboatin' family and her experiences as a girl on the JOHN HECKMANN.


HIAWATHA (from a real photo post card taken at New Albany, Indiana on the Ohio River).

Sternwheel Excursion Steamer

Way's Packet Directory Number 2626

Built in Dubuque, Iowa as the W.J. YOUNG Jr. in 1882.
Converted into an excursion boat in 1906 and given the name HIAWATHA.
Run by the Kentucky & Indiana Bridge Co. and ran usually below the falls at Louisville, KY.
Burned at the foot of Broadway, Louisville on November 30, 1911.


Sternwheeler NUBIA on the Nile near Bedrashen, Egypt

Undated photo of a sternwheeler on the River Nile near Bedrashen, Egypt. Undated. The name on the side of the housing covering the paddlewheel appears to be NUBIA.


"Paul-L Capsized Oshkosh Wisconsin"

Best of many photos taken of the 1910 capsizing of the PAUL L. at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I had sent some in the past but don't think any of them are posted anymore. This should join the new category "Mishaps and Disasters" of which we have many photos and also engravings, so please use items from those categories to create the new page.

"Paul-L Capsized Oshkosh Wisconsin" Photograph of the steamboat "Paul L" capsized at Riverside Park, on the Fox River at Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

On May 28, 1910, the Paul L was being unloaded of a cargo of coal, too much was removed on the starboard side and the boat rolled over. No one was hurt, but the cook and the ship's mate were thrown into the river.

The boat was righted by pumping out the water while barges with cranes lifted from the river and tractors from the shore pulled the boat upright.

The "Paul L" was named for Captain Paul Le Fevre's oldest son. The steamer was built in 1907 by the firm Ryan Brothers (George & James) in Oshkosh and had a length of 124' and a beam of 21' it served the Oshkosh to Tustin run on Lake Poygan. It was operated by the Clark & LeFevre Company. The Paul L was sold in 1921 to Harry D. Meyer, R. C. Brown Jr. & J. C. Thompson of Oshkosh, later it was turned into a barge and operated at Appleton, Wisconsin, it sunk in 1923 and was never sailed again. The caption above was derived from Oshkosh Past Perfect online that referred to a different image of the same event.


Superb interior photograph of the smoking room aboard the Sacramento River steamboat NAVAJO from the H.E. Hinkley Collection at the San Franciso Maritime Museum


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.