Color Steamboat photos (newer), page 1

These are newer photos, so they are either newer boats, or antique boats photographed in color.


The Spirit of Peoria at its own wharf at the Peoria, Illinois, marina on the Illinois River.


The SPIRIT was designed by architect Alan Bates, and built in 1988 at the Walker Boat Yard in Paducah, Kentucky, the first paddlewheeler ever built there.

The propulsion system was designed by Norm Rittenhouse, with steering by Custom Hydraulics.

SPIRIT OF PEORIA has no propellers or thrusters, and is powered by twin Caterpillar 3412 diesel gensets, producing 700 kilowatts combined in 208 volt 3-phase voltage.

The power is rectified using railroad-style rectifiers, probably from a GM GP38.

The DC voltage goes to two traction engines, also from a GM locomotive, which drive the paddlewheel via two 40-foot-long by 1-foot-wide chains.

This allows the boat to be comparatively fast and efficient, burning approximately 15 gallons of diesel fuel an hour, with a top speed of over 15 mph.

The dry weight is about 275 tons, with a passenger capacity of 487.

The boat carries 3,500 US gallons of fuel and 2,500 gallons of water.

The regular area of travel of the boat ranges from Pere Marquette State Park near Grafton, Illinois to Starved Rock State Park near Ottawa, Illinois.

The boat is owned and captained by G. Alex Grieves, and co-captained by Harold Breitenbach.



The Dredge William A. Thompson

Since 1937, the Corps of Engineers Dredge William A. Thompson kept the Mississippi River navigable by maintaining channel widths and depths.

This large vessel measures 267 feet in length, was operated by nearly 70 crew members, and was originally propelled by 650 HP engines.

As the last of its kind, the Dredge Thompson was decommissioned when new machinery was brought in as a replacement in 2006.

In Sept 2002 after the voyage on the towboat PATRICIA GAIL from Cape Girardeau, MO to Memphis, TENN, I drove upriver to Hannibal, MO and the riverside home at "Scipio" of Curt Lees and Ann Sundermeyer who had accompanied me on the trip.

Curt took me out on his pontoon boat while I was there so I could take photos of the dredge WM. A. THOMPSON at work in the Mississippi near Turtle Island which you've seen in other photos I've sent of this part of the river. It was a miraculous clear day with great sunshine on the boat and beautiful reflecting water. History and current status of the THOMPSON below

The Dredge William A. Thompson arrived in Prairie du Chien on June 13, 2012, and is currently moored in the backwaters of the Mississippi near the Prairie du Chien Marina. Boaters and passersby—as well as those who greeted the vessel upon its arrival—have probably noticed its imposing size and distinctive shape: 267 feet long with the cutter head projecting from the bow and two spud towers rising from the stern. Community Development Alternatives of Prairie du Chien acquired the Dredge in the spring of 2012 from the Corps of Engineers, which desired to find a community willing to receive the vessel and preserve its rich history of service on the Upper Mississippi River. CDA is currently developing plans to convert the Dredge into a Museum of River Transportation.

The Dredge William A. Thompson is a wrought iron hull, self-propelled, cutter head suction dredge fabricated in 1936 by the Dravo Company of Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), St. Paul District. The largest and only remaining example of its type used by the Corps, the Thompson was generally considered the best of the fleet and served as a basis for future design of large cutter head dredges. The Thompson holds a distinguished place in the evolution of marine dredge craft. The Thompson is the most original of two cutter head vessels built for the Corps that incorporated self-propulsion via diesel and electric engine systems, on-board crew quarters, and dredge mechanism on a scale not achieved since (McCroskey 5).

The Dredge will tell the story of its role in transforming the Upper Mississippi River into a transportation artery, opening the doors for Midwest agribusiness to national and world markets. The museum itself will be a unique integration of political, social, and environmental history, featuring one of the few and best-preserved dredge artifacts in the United States. No other restored dredge can claim the Thompson's singular place at the intersection of two historical movements: the effort to establish a nine-foot channel on the Upper Mississippi to expand national commerce beyond the rail system; and the technological advancements necessary to develop the machinery to accomplish the task.

Once the Dredge is permanently set in its final location, it is envisioned that an access structure would be constructed to provide the public access to the main deck and upper decks. Upon boarding the Thompson, visitors will be greeted by a fully-preserved cutter suction dredge. The four interpretive strategies as determined by a team of academic scholars—Upstairs/ Downstairs (social theme), The Machine, The National Story, and The River—will be accomplished in separate sections of the vessel that comprise different components of the overall Museum tour.

Prairie du Chien offers a fitting location for the Thompson. More than 100 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, two Frenchmen with five other voyageurs entered the Mississippi River at the mouth of the Wisconsin River. Father Marquette and Joliet laid eyes on what is now Prairie du Chien on June 17, 1673. By 1685, another Frenchman—Nicolas Perrot—built trading posts or forts at various locations, one at the southern limits of Prairie du Chien. River traffic was the only practical means of transportation for personal goods, and Prairie du Chien was strategically located for this purpose. In 1823, the first steamboat to navigate the upper Mississippi River, named 'Virginia,' arrived on the Riverfront in Prairie du Chien. With the arrival in 1857 of the first rail line connecting Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River, Prairie du Chien soon became a transportation hub—where land, rail, and river transportation came together.


Natchez Casino "Isle of Capri" photgraph taken at dusk

Beautiful photo taken at dusk of the Isle of Capri Casino on the Mississippi River at Natchez Under-the-Hill, a floating replica of a huge sidewheel steamboat from Wikipedia's inventory of Casinos on the Mississippi River.


Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Natchez Natchez Adams County, State of Mississippi
Lower River Region
Closed 2015


TWILIGHT's last gleaming . . .

Riverboat TWILIGHT's 2019 calendar for the month of November, a beautiful photo by Gary Sterk of a 3/4 stern view of the photogenic TWILIGHT in the middle of the Mississippi River with reflection in the foreground.


NETTIE QUILL (1886 - 1915)

The NETTIE QUILL (1886 - 1915) at Mobile, Alabama circa 1906 from the glass negative is in the Library of Congress. The color version belongs to the vintage photography site SHORPY. I removed the smoke that had been air brushed coming out of the smokestacks and also removed the telegraph or telephone wires that stretched aross the sky and smoke in the upper left quadrant. Then plumbed up the photo so everything would be level, straight up and down, cropped it and reduced it for display here.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540
"A River packet, Mobile, Alabama"
Detroit Publishing Co., publisher
Date Created/Published: [1906?]
Medium: 1 negative : glass ; 8 x 10 in.
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-det-4a13426 (digital file from original)
Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
Call Number: LC-D4-19452 [P&P]
Date based on Detroit, Catalogue P (1906).
"G 3671" and "71" on negative.
Detroit Publishing Co. no. 019452.
Gift; State Historical Society of Colorado; 1949.


The Spirit of America at Covington, Kentucky, in 1990. Photos by Dave Thomson were featured by Fred Way in The S&D Reflector, December 1990, in black and white. The boat (sans engines) is now the Alton Belle at Alton, Illinois.


SacramentoRiverBoat Matthew McKinleyWhisperingBayPhotoBradZweerink

I took the photo of the MATTHEW McKINLEY with Tower Bridge in the background at Sacramento in 1992.

The photo of the McKINLEY undergoing restoration was taken by Brad Zweerink to accompany the 2012 article by Ian Thompson for the Fairfield Daily Republic.

Fairfield California Daily Republic

"Matthew McKinley gets new lease on life in Suisun City"

By Ian Thompson

June 27, 2012

SUISUN CITY—Tucked away next to a dock in Whispering Bay, the entertainment boat Matthew McKinley is getting a new lease on life.

Suisun City residents will be able to see what could be the city's next resident entertainment boat Monday when it ties up to the downtown waterfront.

Vacaville's Gary Stone, who owns the Matthew McKinley, and a crew of friends, family members, volunteers and contractors have spent the last three weeks completely renovating the vessel: putting in new forward stairways, replacing the electrical system and refurbishing its interior.

Half the vessel's wooden roof, which was ripped off by the wind in December 2009, has been completely replaced and more strongly anchored to the deck.

Stone, who bought an island in the Suisun Slough that he is turning into a youth camp, acquired the Matthew McKinley two years ago. When Community Services Director Mick Jessop asked Stone a month ago if the Matthew McKinley could be part of this year's Fourth of July fireworks festival, Stone ramped up his work to renovate the vessel.

"We are under the gun," Stone said Tuesday while workers prepared to caulk and paint the Matthew McKinley.

He expects the vessel to be ready on time, thanks to the work crew.

The Matthew McKinley will be tied up to the public dock during the Fourth of July festival as a place to watch fireworks for friends and people who have helped fix up the vessel and create the Stone Cove Youth Camp.

After the Fourth of July, Stone and Suisun City officials will sit down to work out an agreement that could make the Matthew McKinley the sixth entertainment boat to call the Suisun waterfront its home. The Matthew McKinley is making its appearance three months after the small River Otter Water Taxi called it quits.

The vessel will be leased to the Stone Cove Youth Camp and part of its time will be spent serving as a classroom and gathering place for the campground.

Stone purchased the small, 5.4-acre tidal island in 2009, cleaned out a collection of refuse and derelict vessels, fixed up the dock and improved the island so that it could become home to a private, nonprofit youth camp. Stone said he expects the camp to be ready for its first youth groups later this summer.

The Matthew McKinley was brought to Suisun City in 2008 by Northbay Charters, the owners of the 100-foot-long Lady of Suisun, which only stayed a year before weighing anchor and departing for Oakland.

After the Lady of Suisun left, the Matthew McKinley was parked in Whispering Bay, where Stone found her.

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic.




Took these of the Scarlett Belle up at Oxnard in '07 while they were putting the finishing touches on her in the boat yard there. Not a living soul around so I was able to walk around and get these. The link below shows how she's become a weddin' type boat.

The Scarlett Belle Riverboat Paddlewheeler is a yacht newly built in 2007 in the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard California. She can accommodate 150 guests, climate controlled with heating or air. She cruises inside the Channel Islands harbor taking you thru the waterways and into the newer Westport and sea bridge homes. She has two levels and a wheel house, 2 handicap accessible spacious bathrooms, walk around decks on both upstairs and downstairs and gets lit up with sparkling lights for your event.

Hannibal Aerial AmericanQueen1995EXP.jpg

American Queen - Dave took it in 1995 from a little single engine plane flying over the Mississippi above Hannibal with the bran' new American Queen headed upstream towards Quincy, Illinois.


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.