Pilot Houses, page 3



Two rare photos of the GOLDEN EAGLE pilot house restored by David Lobbig, St. Louis. In these photos the interior is illuminated and you can see the pilot wheel and stove.

published with permission from David Lobbig
Curator of Environmental Life

A river runs through us: New book and an exhibit explain how a river shaped St. Louis
by Valerie Schremp Hahn
Nov 22, 2019

St. Louis wouldn't be St. Louis without the Mississippi. A new exhibit at the Missouri History Museum explains why. 'Mighty Mississippi' opens Saturday and runs through April 18. A companion book, 'Great River City: How the Mississippi River Shaped St. Louis,' includes more images, maps and stories. Andrew Wanko, the museum's public historian, wrote the book, published by the Missouri Historical Society Press, and worked with museum curator David Lobbig to assemble the exhibit.

"Great River City: How the Mississippi Shaped St. Louis"
By Andrew Wanko
Published by the Missouri Historical Society
308 pages, $35

The 'Mighty Mississippi' exhibit tells the river's story with more than 200 artifacts — 79 of which have never been displayed — in four sections: the river today, the first settlers, colonization and the fur trade, and the industrial age. It's the largest display of Mississippian artifacts at the museum in 30 years. One of the largest things in the collection, the pilothouse from the Golden Eagle Riverboat, is the centerpiece. The Community School in Ladue donated the piece to the museum in the early 1960s; it had been salvaged and placed on the school grounds, thanks to an enthusiastic fifth-grade teacher, Ruth Ferris, who loved teaching her students about the river. The pilothouse was on display at the museum through 1995 and was restored for this exhibit.


Pilot House of Golden Eagle at Community School 1848 -1961

Ruth Ferris and her GOLDEN EAGLE pilot house on the schoolgrounds where she taught. Photos of children performing in plays where they portrayed officers, crew and passengers on steamboats in 'the old days.'

Golden Eagle Pilot house Fund was successfully raised by Community School in partnership with the Missouri History Museum. They are partnering with the Missouri History Museum to refurbish it.

Ruth Ferris, a teacher at Community School, won the pilothouse in 1948 for $257. It was located at Community School until 1961 when the school donated it to the Missouri History Museum. The Golden Eagle Pilot House exhibit opened in the Museum in November 2019.

Watch the video of the Pilot house when it arrived at Community School: See above for a composite of frame captures from the video.



Survey Steamer MISSOURI 1880's

On the survey steamer MISSOURI during the 1880's a surveyor stands looking over the river with binoculars left, another surveyor at work using a barrel in front of the pilot house as his desk, white whiskered Captain steering. La Crosse photo.

MISSOURI (Packet, 1880-1889)

Sternwheel Packet
Way's Packet Directory Number 3983

Built in 1880 at Reeds Landing, Minnesota
Formerly the MINNIE H.
Owned by the U.S. Army
Captain was Joe La Barge in 1885
Was a survey boat for the U.S. army on the Missouri River
In July, 1885 she left Fort Benton for an extended survey of the Missouri.
In 1887, while she was with the Power (Block P) Line, she made 3 trips to Fort Benton.
In September 1888, she made another trip to Fort Benton.
The MISSOURI hit a rock at Blue Blanket, North Dakota on October 4, 1889 and was lost.


Pilot of the STACKER LEE

One of my all time favorite La Crosse photos, this print is far superior to the one I was sent during from the 1980's. Pilot of the STACKER LEE is unidentified , and as the caption observed, the words "LEE LINE STEAMERS" can be faintly seen on the front of his raised cap. His cuffs appear to have been perhaps made of celluloid and attached to the end of his shirt sleeves by some sort of elaborate gadgets serving as cuff links.


GOLDEN EAGLE and GOLDENROD showboat tied up on the St. Louis levee

Press release attached to reverse side of print:



The gay days of the Old Mississippi are coming back with a spectacular revival of commerce on the serpentine waterway.

Here's the GOLDEN EAGLE at its St. Louis dock, ready for another big season of excursions. The GOLDENROD, a show boat which played in St. Louis all last winter, is in the background


Captain Buck Leyhe in the Golden Eagle pilot house.


An advertisement for Thermo-Jac Shoelaces (see the laces on the models' frock and shorts) which was taken in the pilot house of the "Bayou Belle Restaurant" at St. Louis which looks like it was aboard the RIVER QUEEN. I didn't purchase this but saved the online picture as a novelty. Looks like early '60's and girl on right looks a lot like actress Mariette Hartley.

The St. Louis dining establishment called the Bayou Belle Restaurant was housed in a land bound retired sternwheeler originally named WHITE SPOT that was built around 1900. A cook book written as a tribute to the restaurant entitled "Bayou Belle: Memories and Recipes" by Jean Koprivica Surrisi and Dorothea L. Wolfgram was published by West Wine in St. Louis in 2001.


Detail photo that I took of Jim Hale's authentic pilot house on the 5 foot model of the CITY OF MONROE.


This pilot wheel from an unknown Columbia River steamboat is on display at the Bonneville Dam Museum on the Washington State side of the Columbia River. I took this during my 2006 pilgrimage to the Columbia.


Pilot House of the HELEN BLAIR

Deluxe camera angle of the HELEN BLAIR's generous sized pilot house from La Crosse with lots of good things on view: The pilot at the wheel, some admiring lady visitors beside him, 3 chime whistle, texas cabin below and portside stack far right.

Sternwheel Packet

Way's Packet Director Number 2568

Built in 1896 at Harmar, Ohio, other sources state that this boat was built at Rock Island, Illinois in 1900. Captain Blair bought the URANIA in 1901 and used her at Burlington, Iowa to run local trades. On September 5, 1901 she burned her texas and pilothouse off at Muscatine, Iowa. When rebuilt that winter, she was renamed to honor the daughter of Captain Blair.

On July 13, 1910 while proceeding downstream about 3 1/3 miles below Davenport, Iowa, she hit an obstruction in the channel and was sunk in seven feet of water. She was raised and repaired; amount of damage $2500. On April 27, 1913, the HELEN BLAIR was the first steamboat to go to Galena, Illinois in years, and it turned out she was the last steamboat to go there. In 1915 she ran a special cruise from Davenport to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In November 1915, she went to Clarendon, Arkansas on the White River with a load of potatoes and brought back pearl shells to Muscatine. In October 1916 she made a trip from Davenport to New Orleans with 60 passengers. She was sold to Memphis in September 1919 and dismantled in 1920

Ran on the Mississippi; Ohio; White and Cumberland rivers

Captain Walter Blair (1901)
White Collar Line
Carnival City Packet Company (1919)

Officers: Captain Joseph Buisson (pilot, 1915); Captain George W. Bay (1915); Spencer Burtnett (chief engineer, 1911 or 12) Captain Roy Wethern (pilot, circa 1915) Captain Cyprian Buisson (1911; master, 1913); Captain Tom Parker (pilot, circa 1916) Dayton Randolph (pilot); Walter English (pilot), Captain William J. Keith (clerk, 1915; purser, 1916); Captain Joseph H. Young (master); Captain Harry Young (master, 1914); Captain John Hattell (pilot, circa 1915); George Hild (chief engineer, 1913)



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.