Julia Belle Swain Photos, page 1
See also, Julia Belle Swain Illustrations


JULIA BELLE SWAIN tied up at an island in the Mississippi near Galena, Illinois. Captain John Vaughn took me out in his outboard motor boat so I could take photos of the BELLE from the water.

TWILIGHTpilotHouseWindowsReflectStacks 33percentEXP

TWILIGHT's pilot house reflections for 2018

From TWILIGHT's 2018 calendar printed sharp and clear with true color on heavy glossy stock. First rate!

My favorite is the photo from September with Danielle Kegler's reflections of the stacks in the pilot house windows with the pilot wheel visible on the inside.



Attached portrait of young Captain John Vaughn (circa early 1990's) as the wheel of the JULIA BELLE, a close up detail of the pilot wheel (with a brass plate which is difficult to read but I was able to make out the words BARKER BARGE LINE - LOCKPORT, LOUISIANA in this photo).

The wheel had originally been in the pilot house of the lower Mississippi steam ferry CITY OF BATON ROUGE that was built in 1916 and the engines from the ferry were installed in the JULIA BELLE in 1971. The ferry CITY OF BATON ROUGE has served as the wharf boat for Dennis Trone' boats JULIA BELLE SWAIN and TWILIGHT on the Mississippi LeClaire, Iowa.

An article in the Chicago Tribune from 1990 (link to that story below) said that the island west of Galena where Captain Vaughn tied up the JULIA BELLE is called "Mark Twain Island" (!) Don't remember being told when I was there.

May 06, 1990|By Edward Baumann, Special to The Tribune.
A Trip Back To Twain's Day In Comfort,

The photo of the JULIA BELLE steaming off into the distance was another picture I took from LeClaire the morning I got back from the JULIA BELLE cruise to Galena.


John Vaughn's distinctive silhouette is recognizable through the pilot house windows.


Took this of the portside stack and running light on the JULIA BELLE SWAIN while she was tied up at an island west of Galena, Illinois.

Have always liked the detail in this image which you seldom see in photos taking in more or all of these steamboats.



Attached files made from two negatives I haven't seen in years that I took of the JULIA BELLE. The full length profile I shot when Captain John Vaughn took me out in the river in his outboard motor boat while the JULIA BELLE was tied up at an island west of Galena after Dennis Trone took the touristas to town in a mechanized barge.

I stayed behind with the jolly good crew . . . you can see a couple of them on the main deck posing. That was a real treat to roam about the boat with no passengers other than myself. The other photo I took early the next morning at LeClaire, Iowa as the Julia Belle began her voyage back up river to Galena again. Wish I had booked that cruise also, could not get enough of traveling that way.



An excellent photo taken of the JULIA BELLE SWAIN for a 1997 feature article about the Upper Mississippi in MIDWEST LIVING magazine. This particular image was not included in the article but is copyrighted 1997 by the magazine's publisher Meredith Corporation.


Square version of the JULIA BELLE SWAIN at La Crosse that I took in Oct 2007, think that was her last season before going into moth balls for some years.

Julia Belle Swain

The Captain of the Julia Belle Swain piloting north of LaCrosse, Wisconsin during a supper cruise I took in Oct. '07. - Dave


Howard Keil kindly shared the attached photo taken aboard the first steamboat to be named JULIA BELLE SWAIN which was originally built as the sidewheeler CHAS. E CESSNA in 1913 in Florida.

The Swain family was involved in her construction and when she got into financial difficulties they repossessed her in 1916, moved her to the Illinois River and renamed her the JULIA BELLE SWAIN.

This original JBS was lost in a fire while she was in winter quarters on the Monongahela in Dec. 1931.

From Howard's messages:

I saw your collection (online) so I thought I'd send this. Leona McMurry was a distant relative—this picture was in with many of pictures from my grandmother Marie Meyer-Keil.

I have somewhat been keeping up with the rebuilding of the new Julia Belle on Facebook—glad she's not deteriorating anymore. I especially like the fact that she's got the old steam power—not like the look-alike type boats.

Howard Keil

Julia Belle Doug Connell from Bridge 29 June 2006 X 2 EXP

Last December, Doug Connell, local historian of La Crosse (which is Ralph Du Pae's hometown and the Murphy Library) kindly shared the attached files of photos he took of the Julia Belle at La Crosse in 2006. I first saw them on Flickr, the online photo resource.

Since Doug advised (below) to put these photos to use, it would be appropriate that they be included in our next museum upgrade.

Know you will reduce them to fit your page format when the time comes.

Link to Doug's book True Tales of La Crosse below.

From: Douglas Connell
To: David Thomson"
Sunday, December 16, 2012

I was happy to hear that you liked those bridge views of the Julia Belle from 2006 and I hope you can put them to use.

True Tales of La Crosse : Unusual Stories from Old Newspapers of La Crosse, Wisconsin
compiled and edited by Douglas Connell (La Crosse, Wis. : D. Connell), 1994

Compiled from old La Crosse newspapers, this popular book brings together over 200 interesting, unusual and bizarre stories from La Crosse's past not deemed suitable for a general history book about the city.


JULIA BELLE SWAIN stern lit for cameras

Scanned from a 35mm color slide of the JULIA BELLE SWAIN while she was being filmed at night with lighting of stern for the motion picture camera during filming of TOM SAWYER on the Missouri River near Arrow Rock in 1972.


Dave Thomson in the Julia Belle pilot house, photo by Dan Martin.

Visit the Julia Belle Swain Foundation to find out how you can help!


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.