Towboat Photos, page 1


Towboat VIXEN

Another great "head on" photograph - this time of the towboat VIXEN from La Crosse


Sternwheel Towboat

Way's Towboat Directory Number 2540

The VIXEN was a twin to the towboat FURY
Built in 1881 at Dubuque, Iowa, by Diamond Jo Lines

In 1905 she was renamed the DAVID TIPTON

In 1908 she was renamed the HENRY BOSSE

U.S. Engineering Department

Officers & Crew:

1886-89: Henry B. Whitney (master)
1890: Hugh McKenzie (master)
1899: F.A. Whitney (engineer)
1903-04: J.E. Short (pilot)


Towboat E.D. KENNA


Sternwheel Towboat

Way's Steam Towboat Directory Number T0651

Built Charleston, West Virginia by Ward in 1926 for the Ohio River Company, Cincinnati, Ohio and launched in July, 1926.

Left Charleston with 4.8 ft. on the gauge. Her first trip out of the Ohio River was June, 1935 when she was sent to St. Louis for a barge of scrap consigned to Ashland, Kentucky.

In 1936 she was taken to Dravo ways at Neville Island, Pennsylvania and lengthened.

In the spring of 1937, she went to the Illinois River in the coal-towing trade.

Owned by Lucas Towing Company, Stout, Ohio; 1952

Later she was back in the Huntington-Cincinnati run under Captain George "Thuse" Hamilton as pilot then master.

In 1952 she was traded to the Hillman Barge and Construction Company of Brownsville, Pennsylvania and dismantled in March, 1953


1926: Captain Edgar "Jacko" Meek (master), James Rowley, Jr. (pilot), Carl Hall (chief engineer), Cecil Faudree (2nd engineer), Tom Van Meter (mate), Wilbur Chapman 1935: Captain Wilbur Chapman, W.F. Edwards (pilot), Harry G. Nichols (pilot), R.F. Rodgers (pilot), E.R. Rodgers (pilot), G.E. Young (pilot) 1937: Captain Thomas P. Craig (master), W.L. Foley and Charles R. Spear (pilots) 1938: Captain George "Thuse" Hamilton (pilot/master), Captain David Stout (master) and Captain Vernon K. Byrnside (skipper)


CARRIE V. towboat

Latest real photo post card received today, there's no postmark or location on the back of the card. It dawned on me after looking at the contraptions that the crew of men on the barge are involved with that they could have been working on some sort of dredging operation to deepen shallow channels for navigation, and at the same time harvesting sand from the river bottom, possibly while the CARRIE V. was owned by the Parkersburg & Marietta Sand Co. beginning in 1906.

Sternwheel Towboat
Way's Towboat Directory Number T0355
Built at Antiquity, Ohio 1897; originally owned by the Varians at Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
They apparently sold her to Cairo, Memphis and Southern Railroad in August 1901; in 1903 she was at Cairo, Illinois with Captain Fred Bennett, master.
She was sold on August 10, 1906 to Parkersburg & Marietta Sand Company.

On December 2, 1909 she sank at Bush's Mill, about three miles below old Lock 26, Ohio River, then in charge of Captain C. T. Dotson of Parkersburg; raised.
Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Company were reported to have bought her in July, 1911.


Towboat "Kansas City" in 1955, in Des Moines, Iowa Sunday Supplement

Attached is a photo from one of 5 original 4 x 5 negatives that were taken for the following abridged 1955 Sunday supplement story published in the Des Moines, Iowa Register. This image is the most interesting one of the group with the dramatic scaffold in the foreground framing the towboat KANSAS CITY and barges which were captured perfectly by the photographer while the boat was underway in the middle ground.

I have concluded that past the end of the wooden wharf and scaffold was a barge secured at the shore at river's edge and the wharf itself appeared to be rigged like a castle drawbridge to be lowered into place for loading or unloading, depending on high and low water conditions on the river. The pile of rocks near the end of the barge was probably only a small percentage of the intended load of cargo.

I have compared this image to a "scenic view" of the Missouri River on an undated colorized post card in which the scaffold in the foreground is very similar to the one in the Des Moines paper. The location was specified as having been taken "between Council Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska." It is probable that both images were photographed at the same location.

Sunday June 5, 1955
The Des Moines Register
Des Moines, Iowa

Beginning on page 91 of the Sunday supplement

"A Publisher Extra Newspaper" was published the following:

How Modern Towboats Conquer Fog and Storm

When Cap't. J. H. Simpson is piloting the towboat KANSAS CITY , he has the latest in modern scientific devices to help him.

On the translucent circular screen of the radar box, the shore, barges, buoys and other objects stand out white and luminous.

Waterway supporters say 1,000 tons of steel shipped from Chicago to Omaha by barge saves 10,000 in transportation costs.

Last year 5,000 tons of steel pipe were shipped by all water route from Houston, Tex, to Omaha at a saving said to have been 33,000.

Other proportionate savings are also cited. On this trip up from Houston the KANSAS CITY was hauling 4,000 tons of molasses, and 25 tons of nails.

Flat-bottomed, with as little draw as possible, the towboats and their barges skim along through water less than six feet deep.

With the new dams going into operation in North and South Dakota, army engineers send down additional water in the dry seasons.

But rainfall shortages upstream now hold these water releases to the minimum needed for barge line operation.

History is beginning to repeat on the Missouri the story of success on the Mississippi.

Last year about 62 million tons of freight moved through the Quad-cities, the fifteenth year since the Mississippi's nine-foot channel was completed.

Back in 1933, the Mississippi tonnage was a half million below the amount expected on the Missouri this year.


Nice sharp photo from the Detroit Publishing Co. collection
The Ohio River circa
"Canal locks at Louisville, Kentucky."
8x10 glass negative
Detroit Publishing Company 1906

Sternwheel Towboat
Way's Towboat Directory Number T2463
Built in 1889 at Brownsville, Pennsylvania by the Axton yard

While owned by John Hoffman she was a harbor boat at Louisville, Kentucky.
In April, 1901 she sank at the Louisville harbor while moored at shore with four loaded coalboats; one of the coalboats sank and pulled the other three and the Transit down.
In March, 1912 Captain Dan Varble died on the Louisville levee enroute to catch the Transit.
She was later owned by the Combine (MCC) and in March, 1918 they brought her to Pittsburgh. John F. Klein bought her in October, 1920.
In 1925 she was rebuilt at the Ayer & Lord ways at Paducah, Kentucky and renamed A.W. ARMSTRONG. At that time she was owned by Ayer & Lord Tie Company


This 1928 photo was online a while back on the California state capitol's newspaper the Sacramento BEE. The DOVER No. 2 (1891-1935) was built in a characteristic style once plentiful on the Sacramento River. Boats like this appeared in that 1931 "talkie" HEAVEN ON EARTH that was based on Burman's novel MISSISSIPPI. The DOVER is literally "towing" two barges behind her, each barge was steered by pilots in the individual pilot houses which were necessary to keep the barges on the same course as the DOVER. In the Mississippi valley the barges are attached to the front end of the towboats and become in effect part of the towboat steered by the pilot all day and night, visibility permitting.

This can also be found at the Sacramento Room digital site


Madison Coal & Supply Company chairman Charles T. Jones took his family on summer vacations aboard the diesel sternwheel towboat LAURA J (built in 1929).

In a 2013 on Captain Eric Grubb wrote that the LAURA J. had been purchased by Lawson Hamilton who named her MOMMA JEANNE and keeps her at Port Amherst, West Virginia on the Kanawha River.

In one of the photos that Cap't Grubb posted of the MOMMA JEANNE in that article everything but the sternwheel had been remodeled so extensively that the boat no longer possessed the authentic vintage appearance that the LAURA J did.

This print that I scanned was mixed in with some photos from my '93 DELTA QUEEN voyage that began at Memphis. I may have taken this after disembarking from the DELTA QUEEN at Cincinnati and took a rental car up along the Ohio River.

This could have been taken at Aberdeen, Ohio (across the river from Maysville, Kentucky), Gallipolis, Ohio or Marietta, Ohio. The opposite shore reminds me of what I could see across the river from Gallipolis while taking photos of the JUANITA there in 1990.


From a good quality poster print. Our hero Fred Way Jr. was one of the two pilots on this towboat in 1935, In the winter of 1919 the IRON CITY was chartered to a movie company for NORTHWARD MALICE, filmed along the Allegheny River. So far I have not found any additional information regarding this "silent movie." The name may have been changed and some of the footage of the IRON CITY may have been "recycled" for use in "talkies" filmed after the advent of sound beginning in 1929.

Sternwheel Towboat

Way's Steam Towboat Directory Number 1199

Built in 1912 at Parkersburg, West Virginia at the Pope docks for Iron City Sand Company

Officers and Crew 1935:
Captain Tom Potts, Master
Chris Bigenho, Chief Engineer
Clayton Wiley, 2nd Engineer)
Clarence W. "Heavy" Elder, Pilot
Fredrick Way, Jr., Pilot

In December 1926 she was stranded for a time on Deadman's Island on the Ohio River. In the winter of 1919, she was chartered to a movie company for making the film "Northward Malice" along the Allegheny River. In August 1934 she burned to water's edge and was completely rebuilt. In November 1935, she made a trip for the American Barge Line. Dismantled in 1948 by the owners, the Crain Brothers.


Towboat, 1898-1935
Kanawha River

BUILT: 1898 at Raymond City, West Virginia

Burned at North Bend, Ohio in August 1935


Captain Ed Woodward (master, circa 1898-1916); Walter Thacker (pilot, before 1908); John Mahan (pilot, before 1908); Thomas Oliver (chief engineer); Captain William D. Curry (master); Captain John F. Rust (pilot); William H. Patrick (pilot)

Way's Steam Towboat Directory No. T1982

Captain Burt Chambers supervised the original construction of the Otto Marmet; she was later lengthened at Cincinnati. On January 29, 1935, she broke a shaft at St. Joe in lower Cincinnati which caused her to run through herself on both sides. She was not repaired and burned in August 1935


A favorite photo of a jaunty little boat. One of those perfect profiles with a beautiful reflection on the water. This is a craft one could live aboard and navigate the rivers with for a lifetime.


Sternwheel Rafter/Towboat
Built 1896 at Clinton, Iowa by C. Lamb and Sons
Burned on September 4, 1927
Clinton Sand and Gravel Company
Captain John W. Lind
Mississippi River
Way's Towboat directory - T0166:
"Was used as the bow boat for the Chancy Lamb when towing log rafts; did raft work in early years."


This is an original albumen print that I loaned to Ralph DuPae and he had it copied for the Murphy collection.

JOHN MOREN (Towboat, 1885-1907)
Sternwheel Towboat
Built in 1885, Brownsville, Pennsylvania at the Axton yard
Burned at Cairo, Illinois on November 8, 1907
Owned in 1885 by Moren interests
Captain James Moren (master)
Ohio River
Fred Way's Steam Towboat Directory Number T1424

The Moren interests in Pittsburgh operated the Advance Coal Company. The John Moren was called the "Irish Ram" by rivermen. December 1895, Captain James Moren left her to become master of the James Moren. Once in the MCC Combine (1900), she was laid up ca. 1903-1906. She came out again in October, 1906 and burned at Cairo, Illinois on November 8, 1907

old steamboat photo

A Culver picture captioned on back "Loading rock phosphate."

Sternwheel Towboat
Way's Steam Towboat Directory Number - T2163
Built in1925 at Morgan City, Louisiana
She left Morgan City, Louisiana on January 20, 1928 for Sheffield, Alabama under a contract to Tennessee Valley Sand and Gravel and was purchased by that firm.


This just in today 4 January, 2016 excellent, very sharp real photo postcard,


Sternwheel "pool style" Towboat in the manner of the W.P. SNYDER JR.

Way's Steam Towboat Directory Number T1323
Built at Ambridge, Pennsylvania by American Bridge Company, 1922, as the WM. G. CLYDE.

Ran on the Ohio and Monongahela rivers.
Renamed JAMES E. LOSE in 1937 after being purchased by the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Company, Pittsburgh.

Renamed CHARLES R. COX in 1948.


2.30 X 4.15 snapshot of the SUTER on the Missouri River near St. Joseph, MO.

Fred Way's Towboat Directory "biography":

Stw tb sh 1928-1952. b. Gasconade, MO, 159x30x5. Condensing engines 12's,24's-6 ft. stroke by Shelton. Water- tube boiler, oil burner. Owned by USE and a sister boat to BIXBY. Capt. Robert H. Wilson was master for some time on the Missouri River, Charles Weiher, chief engineer. Sold at public sale to Capt. I W. Menke, St. Louis, February 7, 1952 for $8,307.77. He renamed her CHAPERON and moored her with his showboat GOLDENROD at St. Louis. The CHAPERON was non-operating except to supply steam and electrical power for the showboat.


Sternwheel Towboat JOHN W. HUBBARD

Cozy interior photo from La Crosse of the Officers lounge aboard this towboat: JOHN W. HUBBARD

Sternwheel Towboat
Way's Steam Towboat Directory Number T1444
Built at Neville, Pennsylvania, by Dravo Contracting Company, 1936
Campbell Transportation Company; Mississippi Valley Barge Line; Ohio River Company
Ran on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers
She carried the whistle and roof bell from the packet QUEEN CITY.
The Campbell Line was absorbed by Mississippi Valley Barge Line, and they sold the boat to the Ohio River Company in the fall of 1947. They renamed her CHARLES DORRANCE in September, 1950
July, 1936: Captain Vernon K. Burnside (master), John Dippold and Homer Varian (pilots), Ellis Koontz (chief engineer), Chester Gruber (second engineer), Raymond Robbins (mate); other masters: Captain Al Smith of the Lee Line, Captain R. F. "Dusty" Rogers, Captain Charlie Roberts, and Captain Andrew Sayre.


KEYSTONE Sternwheel towboat

Way's Steam Towboat Directory Number T1516

Original built as the W.C. JUTTE at Brownsville,Pennsylvania in 1901
121x24x4 Engines 15's - 6 foot stroke

Renamed when sold to the Keystone Sand & Supply, Co. of Pittsburgh
In April 1917. This company, an affiliate of Dravo, used her until July, 1920 at which time she was sold to Hillman Coal & Coke Co.

Hillman towed coal with her until June 1925 when they sold her to J.K. Davison Bros. Sand Co. on the Allegheny River. The Davisons renamed her E.K. DAVISON.


Sternwheel towboat SCOTT Corps of Engineers circa 1940s

Scanned from an original 35mm slide. appears to be a trio of Army Corps of Engineers boats circa the late 1940's (?). Sternwheel towboat SCOTT, far left.


Pittsburgh Coal Fleet with towboats TORNADO and JAME MOREN

Detail from a photo of the Pittsburgh Coal Fleet with towboats TORNADO (left) and JAMES MOREN (center)
circa 1910 - 1929 From the Library of Congress.


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.