Julia Belle Swain Photos, page 2 See also, Julia Belle Swain Illustrations


Six widescreen frame captures of the JULIA BELLE SWAIN as the "RIVER QUEEN" from the 1973 musical film version of TOM SAWYER. The movie was filmed on the Missouri River at Arrow Rock, Missouri. Captain Dennis Trone is at the wheel in the pilot house upper right. In 1971 Cap'n Trone designed and supervised the construction of the JULIA BELLE at the Dubuque Boat & Boiler Works where she had the distinction of being the last boat to be built there.


Don Taylor (director)
Mark Twain (based on his novel)
Robert B. Sherman (screenplay and lyrics)
Richard M. Sherman (music for the songs)
John Williams (musical score)

Starring: Johnny Whitaker (Tom Sawyer)
Celeste Holm (Aunt Polly)
Warren Oates (Muff Potter)
Jeff East (Huckleberry Finn)


I saw the Mormon history film "Joseph Smith" movie in 2005, the first year it was screened at the Legacy Theatre in Nauvoo, Illinois. The JULIA BELLE SWAIN is immediately recognizable as the steamer "MEMPHIS" as it would have been in 1844. The online version on YouTube (link below) is evidently the revised 2011 version of the movie which is quite different than the one that I saw.

Attached one screen capture (top) of the JBS paddling away in the river and below that two photos taken while the JBS was tied up along the shore during a break in filming.



Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration is a 2005 film that focuses on some of the events during the life of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, which was both filmed and distributed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The film was shown in the Legacy Theater of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building from its opening on December 17, 2005 until early 2015, and opened in several LDS Church visitors' centers on December 24, 2005. The film used 65 mm film and is currently being projected digitally. It also took advantage of the new and developing digital intermediate process. In March 2011, the church released a revised cut of the film, which is available to watch in select visitors' centers and online at Youtube. The steamer MEMPHIS circa 1844 was portrayed by the JULIA BELLE SWAIN, filmed on the Upper Mississippi River in 2005.



Dennis Trone's JULIA BELLE SWAIN was remodeled to play the first "prestige" steamboat that Sam Clemens steered: the ALECK SCOTT when he was cub pilot under Horace Bixby.

This was for the TV movie of Mark Twain's LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI, filmed on the Illinois River and first broadcast on PBS in November 1980.


The riverboat TWILIGHT

Dennis Trone's TWILIGHT, a riverboat that is diesel electric driven with twin propellers and is very reminiscent of Trone's original JULIA BELLE SWAIN (1971) in appearance. Here are the TWILIGHT's stacks and pilot house in a gorgeous photograph by photographer Janice Kuntz for the month of July from the 2017 TWILIGHT calendar.

Riverboat Twilight
Carrie and Kevin Stier

Built at LEEVAC shipyard in Jennings, Louisiana, the TWILIGHT was completed in April 1987.

The main deck has a length of 126 feet and breadth of 30 feet.

Her full load draft is 5' 6".

The propulsion is twin screws, diesel-electric drive.

The main propulsion engines are Cummins KTA-19, 510 horse power each, driving 450 KW generators.

The propeller shafts are driven by a General Electric traction motor. The propellers are Columbian bronze, 5 blade, 48" diameter.

The fuel capacity is 3000 gallons in 2 integral tanks.


The TWILIGHT is exceptionally fast for a vessel of her type and handles quite well.

Using the 65 horse power bow thruster and the twin screw configuration, this vessel can easily pivot 360 degrees in its own length.

She has even been known to pull the occasional water skier.



Riverboat TWILIGHT at Le Claire, IOWA


Dennis Trone JULIA BELLE best photo

Attached superb photo of Capt. Dennis Trone at the wheel of his JULIA BELLE SWAIN. Illuminated with studio lights for the filming of his sequence in Mark Twain's America which was filmed in IMAX 3D and incorporated original stereoviews from the collection of UC Riverside's California Museum of Photography which I visited with two friends from Disney's during the 1980's where we went through their proofs of our favorite subjects and ordered prints from them.

Credit the Stephen Low Company for the photograph, it's from their site (see link below).

More on the 3D IMAX movie below which you may have seen, it's on DVD now but not in 3D so it's less powerful, some scenes were filmed in Hannibal. I had to drive down to Orange County in '98 which had the only theatre in Southern California' that screened the movie (had to wear 3D glasses to get the effect).

The Stephen Low Company:
Mark Twain's America
Filmed in IMAX 3D (1998)


A journey into the life and times of America's most celebrated author and humorist. Through live-action 3D and astounding stereo images of the 19th century, Mark Twain's America reveals this author's remarkable life, and with it, an era of river trade, railroad expansion, wild-west frontiers, civil war and industrial revolution. Across the nation, people are at work keeping the memory of the 19th Century alive—restoring steamboats, re-enacting battles, driving locomotives and dancing to the music of brass bands. Mark Twain's America captures these remarkable echoes of the 19th Century in magical 3D and weaves them together with classic stereo images of the era.

About the Film

Mark Twain's America delivers the giant screen's first autobiography — revealing through 3D imagery and Twain's own words, his extraordinary life and times. The film rekindles the dramatic events and rich textures of Twain's America truly for the first time, through the magic of IMAX 3D.

Mark Twain's America was shot in 40 days over a 3-month period—covering many locations where Twain lived or traveled including Hannibal, Missouri; Virginia City, Nevada; Hartford, Connecticut; Elmira, New York; Montreal, Canada; Antietam, Maryland and of course, the Mississippi River.

To relive Mark Twain's vision of America during his time, the production used an extensive collection of 19th century images, both 3D photographs from the California Museum of Photography at Riverside and 2D photos from Mark Twain research centers in Berkeley and Hartford. The 2D images were digitally converted into effective 3D images indistinguishable in quality from native 3D images.

Release date: 1998
Duration: 40 min.
Format: 15/70 3D
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
For availability / licensing, contact: Sony Pictures Classics
Produced by: The Stephen Low Company for Sony Pictures Classics and Ogden Entertainment
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Stephen Low Director / Producer / Writer

Mitchell Cannold / Isaac Palmer / Jonathan Stern Executive Producers

Andrew Kitzanuk Director of Photography

James Lahti Editor / Producer

Alexander Low Screenplay

Anne Bancroft Narrator

Alan Williams Music


Julia Belle as River Queen TOM SAWYER 1972

JULIA BELLE SWAIN as the "RIVER QUEEN" at a Missouri River landing with Director on swinging stage giving a shout out to the costumed extras to instruct them what he wanted them to do in the next scene to be filmed for TOM SAWYER, 1972 — a musical adaptation of the novel by Sam Clemens. Filmed on the Missouri River with the little nearby village of Arrow Rock, Missouri standing in for Hannibal, Missouri.


JULIA BELLE's Engineer Dave

This morning I came across a bunch of 27 year-old prints and negatives from my JULIA BELLE SWAIN trip from Le Claire to Galena. I scanned the attached from a print of a photo of Engineer Dave who kindly indulged me when I asked if he'd give me the opportunity to photograph him out on the fantail. After Dave attended to topping off the oil feeders adjacent to the paddlewheel, he gave me a good natured wave.

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


Four screen captures from the DVD of the 3D IMAX motion picture MARK TWAIN's AMERICA which was filmed in many locations in the U.S.A. where Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) lived or visited and which celebrate his memory today.

Captain Dennis Trone steered his beloved JULIA BELLE SWAIN past the camera and in 3D on a huge IMAX screen the steamboat looked as big as life.

Dennis is visible in the pilot house in the lower right frame, framed between the stacks at dusk.

The DVD, released in 2005 and available from is not in 3D but worth viewing for scenes of the JULIA BELLE; Hannibal, MO; Virginia City, Nevada & Hartford, Connecticut among other places.
Mark Twain's America in 3D (1998)
52 minutes - Documentary -
Directed byStephen Low
Screenplay by Alex Low & Stephen Low
Narrated by Anne Bancroft


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.