A Legislative and Corporate History
From the Files of Bill N. Muster
and Richard C. Simonton

Steamboat History

Before the Civil War there were more than 11,000 paddlewheel steamboats plying American riverways. The boats resembled floating palaces with gingerbread trimmings outside and lavish furnishings within. History evokes images of Dixieland jazz bands, southern belles, and diamond-studded riverboat gamblers. It was a culture--a lifestyle--best captured by Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi.

Steamboats were a rich part of American history, but they have all but disappeared from the American scene. Only the Delta Queen Steamboat Company still operates a fleet of overnight passenger steamboats on the Mississippi River system. The Delta Queen Steamboat Company will bring more boats into operation soon.

The history of the Delta Queen is contained in this collection of documents from the files of Richard C. Simonton and William N. Muster. They were two Los Angeles businessmen who played key roles in the boat's efforts to remain in operation, despite financial and legal difficulties over a period of 20 years.

Simonton's files span the years 1958 to 1966 and tell the story of how the Delta Queen was saved from bankruptcy. After 1966, documents from Muster's files tell the story of a marine safety law that threatened to end the boat's fifty-year career as a passenger vessel.

This Reference Manual includes summaries for each year and copies of the most important documents from the complete files of Simonton and Muster. [only select documents are online. The entire collectionis archived at the Cincinnati Historical Society.]