Steamboat Waybills, page 5

Towboat Catharine Davis


Towboat Smiley Co 1903 invoice HALF size-1

Towboat CATHARINE DAVIS scanned from original negative.

Catharine Davis (Sternwheel Towboat, 1896-1928) built in 1896 at Marietta, Ohio

Owned by: Captain Steve Davis, Marietta (1896) Smiley towboat Company, Catlettsburg, Kentucky (March 15, 1901) Island Creek Coal Company, Huntington, West Virginia

OFFICERS: 1896: Captain Steve Davis; 1904: Captain James Rose (master); later masters were: Captain James Rowley, Jr. and Captain J. Emory Edgington

Operated on the Ohio River

Way's Towboat Directory - T0360:

Her stroke came from the Marietta Manufacturing Company and she was built with an Oregon fir hull. Captain Steve Davis did job towing and named the boat for his mother. The name "Catharine Davis whistle" was used on all boats built by Captain Davis. First trip was on June 12, 1896 from Marietta to Pittsburgh.

Once bought by Smiley Towboat Company, she towed timber out of Big Sandy.

On October 29, 1910, while working in Huntington Harbor, she struck an obstruction in the channel, tearing a hole in her bottom at the aft end of the boilers. She sank in 7 feet of water below Ninth Street at Huntington, West Virginia. Island Creek used her in towing between Huntington and Cincinnati and rebuilt her in 1916.

Towboat Smiley Grayscale Vignette CATHARINE DAVIS-1

Towboat Smiley Letterhead grayscale 75 percent EXP


Original receipt for New Orleans Levee dues paid by "Cap't of Str Ella May" $27.20 for "4 trips" measuring 97 Tons at 7 cents per Ton from June 20th 1869 to June 29th 1869. It is signed by "J.O. Landry" Controller and and the Collector's last name is White but I'm not sure how to interpret his first 2 initials. Fred Way doesn't list a boat named ELLA MAY from the 1860's, but does list a sternwheel ferry by that name built at St. Louis in 1903 that operated on the Missouri River and was still on the "lists" in 1918. The name Ella May may evoke nostalgia from fans of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES in which Donna Douglas played blond cutie Ella May Clampett.


Way's Packet Directory Number 4047
Sidewheel packet
Built at Cincinnati, Ohio in 1855.
398 tons.
Named for Capt. McLellan who was master many years on TELEGRAPH NO. 3.
Designated a low water boat for the U.S. Mail Line, Cincinnati-Louisville, November 1855, along with the CITY OF WHEELING.

Ran with some regularity in the Cincinnati-Memphis trade, Z. M. Sherley, continued as manager into the year 1860.

Made a trip to Pittsburgh with cotton January 1861 under Capt. Knight.

Delivered U.S. Army supplies to Camp Piatt, at Malone's Landing about 15 miles south of Charleston on the Kanawha River in 1861, attracting much attention due to her size.

Departed Pittsburgh Apr 1, 1862, with passenger and freight for the Upper Mississippi having been sold there.

Rebuilt at Madison, Indiana in 1862.

Renamed CITY of St. PAUL on June 7, 1866.


Sidewheel wooden hull packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 1706

Built in 1878, by Howard & Company, Jeffersonville, Indiana.

309' x 70' (including guards), beam 49', depth of hold 12', average draft 4' 10''. Tonnage 2,048.

Engines: Two high pressure lever (from steamer KATIE), built by John Davies, Louisville.

Boilers: Nine, iron, built by Jos. Mitchell, Louisville. Diameter 42", length 32', pressure 160lbs.

Paddlewheels: Diameter 41' 2", buckets per wheel 21, length 18', width 23".

Capacity: 9000 cotton bales.

Built for the New Orleans & Memphis Packet Company to take passengers and freight, the ED RICHARDSON was capable of carrying 9,000 bales of cotton. She had a large and handsome cabin decorated in white and gold, and many comfortable and spacious staterooms.

Often described as one the great steamers of the riverboat era, the ED RICHARDSON was dismantled in 1888, and her hull burned to recover iron.

way bill

Waybill from the LENI LEOTI, dated a few months before she sank on the Arkansas River. For some reason this waybill was the subject of a brisk bidding war, somehow I ended up with it, probably because I was the only bidder willing to pay an absurdly high price for it. Maybe it's the musical sounding name that attracted the attention, or the boat's association with the discovery of the aftermath of a brutal massacre by Indians near Fort Peck, Montana on the Missouri River in May 1868. (see Fred Way's notes below)

Stw p wh b. Freedom, Pa. (hull) and completed at Pitts burgh, 1863. 174 tons. She was bought by Capts. A.S. Shepard and W.A. Moore in latter January 1864, and they loaded her out at Pittsburgh for Louisville. Made trips to Nashville. In 1865 Capt. William Reno, master, with C . H. Bentel, clerk. Ran Wheeling-Parkersburg 1866, and Pittsburgh-Parkersburg in 1867. Departed St. Louis for the upper Missouri in mid-May 1868. In mid-August a letter filtered back to Pittsburgh which read:

"Landing at a wood yard 45 miles above Fort Peck, I discovered the dead bodies of the proprietors, seven in number, supposed to have been killed by the Assiniboine Indians in retaliation for the murder of two of their tribe two months ago by wood-choppers in that same vicinity. The bodies of the whites killed were horribly mutilated and in a state of decomposition. I buried them as well as possible under the circumstances. Three of the bodies were outside the cabin, four within. The entire party came up with me this spring on the PENINAH from St. Louis and stopped at that point where they met their sad fate. Nothing was found but a few letters scattered around in the cabin, which I have delivered to W.I. Cullen, Supt. of Indian Affairs." (signed) Capt. Haney.

Capt. John D. Adams bought the boat at Little Rock, Ark. , on Jan. 18, 1869. She had been making trips to New Orleans from there. She was lost by snagging on the Arkansas at McNeal's Landing, downbound for New Orleans with 200 tons of government freight, May 10, 1869, owned by the Memphis & Arkansas River Packet Co. 22 years later there was a second boat built by that name:


Stw p wh b. Brownsville, Pa. , at Axton yard, 1891. Dismantled Catlettsburg, Ky. 1907, and her engines went in the towboat ENQUIRER.

maggie reaney

maggie reaney

A while back got this excursion ticket or broadside for the Maggie Reaney which operated up around La Crosse for a while as I understand it. The Murphy kindly provided the photo which isn't in great shape but neither is the ticket either and at least you can read the name board across the front railing of the hurricane roof. Photo Courtesy of Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Steamboat Collection Photographs


Waybill for LAURA No. 2 1864 -1876 and photo of LAURA No. 2 with HOPE and SAMUEL CLARKE

Sept 11th, 1869 waybill from LAURA No. 2 and photo of the boat (left foreground) with steamer HOPE behind her on far left and the large boat in the background the SAMUEL CLARKE. Photo from La Crosse collection.


Way's Packet Directory Number 3380

Sternwheel packet

Constructed in 1864.

The hull built at Warren, Pennsylvania and superstructure completed at Elizabeth, Pennysylvania 1864.

60 tons.

Built for Capt. R.B. Bell, Venango County, Pennsylvania.

Ran on the Allegheny River to Franklin, Pa., and in 1869, was in the Wheeling-Clarington trade, and made trips up the Big Sandy from Catlettsburg, Kentucky. In 1871 was running Wheeling-New Martinsville during low water in August, while at the same time the SCIENCE and NEW STATE were running Wheeling-Parkersburg, and the W.F. CURTIS was running between Wheeling and Sunfish (Clarington).

"An old looking craft," the DARLING, was running Wheeling-Steubenville.

In spring of 1873, LAURA NO. 2 was in the Parkersburg-St. Marys trade.

Dismantled in 1876.


A waybill from the SUNSHINE dated Sept 24, 1900. The SUNSHINE operated from 1892 to 1904. Photo Courtesy of Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Steamboat Collection Photographs


Sidewheel Packet

Owned by the Wheeling and Parkersburg Packet Company

Way's Packet Directory Number 1354 Built in 1870 at Harmar, Ohio

Her engines were from the REBECCA. The Ohio River Railroad opened on June 4, 1884 and the COURIER never made another trip in the trade after that happened.

She carried a circus along the Ohio River in 1885 and that fall was laid up along the Kentucky shore at the lower end of Covington.

Stranded the winter of 1885, all furniture and machinery removed and the hulk was burned.


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.