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2014 steamboat calendars still available: Delta Queen calendar; HSPSI calendar.

January 23, 2014
New at

To get the new year off in the right direction, we have added three pages of new images to the Dave Thomson Collection. See new acquisitions:
January 2014 photos
January 2014 illustrations
January 2014 movie stills


This 1970 photo of the crew of the Delta Queen surfaced on Facebook last week. My father took this photo, but I had not seen it in years. Don Sanders, graduate of the Ernest E. Wagner School of Steamboating, posted the photo along with a roster of everyone he could remember:
Chief Art Reese, Alice Tooker, Ruben Pilot, Waiter, Guy Tooker, Henry Mitchell, Waiter, Vic Tooker, Lewis "Red Rooster" Bayless, Deck, Robert Davis, Head Waiter, Big John, Bar Back, Mariam Edgar, Gabe Chengary, Purser, Bobby Rose, Deck, Capt. Don Sanders. Mate, Ernest Johnson, Watchman, Capt. Ernest E. Wagner, Harvey Simmons, Bartender, Franklin Miles, Chief Steward, Tom Neff, Housekeeping Steward, Bubba Chinn, Fireman, Faye Rhomberg, Gift Shop, Jerry Brooms, Crew Steward, Estill Boyd, Asst. Purser, Ray Wannstrath, Deck, Tony Esplauge, Deck, Paul Rhomberg, Bar Steward, Cap'n Betty Blake, Mary Jackson, Maid, Allen Segrist and Tom Tallon, Oiler.

January 17, 2014
American Queen Company buys Empress of the North

The American Queen Company completed its purchase of the Empress of the North, and changed her name to the American Empress. This move was completed today, but began in May 2013. The company started renovations last year, confident that the deal would eventually close. Meanwhile the steamboat community was looking on, taking bets.

The christening ceremony will take place April 5 in Portland Oregon. From there, the American Empress will embark on her maiden voyage, a nine day trip on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. She will navigate a course to Astoria, Oregon, Stevenson, Washington, The Dalles, Oregon, Sacajawea State Park, Washington, and Clarkston, Washington. To read the original article at, click here.

Delta Queen

Call on Congress to Save the Delta Queen in 2014

Last year, legislators introduced bills in both houses of the chamber. The language was essentially identical, so that if the respective bills passed both chambers, it could proceed directly to the president's desk for signature. The text of the bills was as follows:
To amend title 46, United States Code, to extend the exemption from the fire-retardant materials construction requirement for vessels operating within the Boundary Line.

The bill would exempt the Delta Queen from requirements of Safety at Sea laws. It only makes sense, since vessels operating within the Boundary Line do not go out to sea.

The bill passed the House of Representatives on September 25, but never got through the Senate. Because the bill failed to pass both houses, it died for the year. However, there is every chance the bills will be reintroduced in 2014.

Call your U.S. Representative and two Senators and tell them that you support the Delta Queen. The Congressional switchboard is (202) 224-3121. Have your Representative's and Senators names handy so the switchboard operator can connect you immediately. Find your U.S. Representative:
Find your two U.S. Senators:

Remind them that the Delta Queen provides jobs and contributes to the economy in the river towns it visits, from Minnesota to Pennsylvania to Missouri and Louisiana. Getting the boat back into service will add a boost the American river cruise business.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the American Maritime Officers, and the Seafarers International Union support the Delta Queen, and the Delta Queen is a national historic treasure.

Good News: The Julia Belle Swain
Following is from the S&D Reflector, December 2013 issue. Be sure to "like" the Julia Belle Swain on Facebook - click here!

Happy New Year 2014!!

December 28, 2013
Queen of the Mississippi Owner Spent $40k
to Sink the Delta Queen in Congress

A Christmas day story in the Connecticut Mirror revealed that American Cruise Lines hired lobbyists to stop pro-Delta Queen legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

Reporter Ana Radelat, said:
According to lobbying disclosure forms filed in the House and Senate, American Cruise Lines hired Washington, DC-based Blank Rome Government Relations in August, making an initial payment of $40,000 to derail congressional approval of a bill that would re-impose an exemption to federal shipping law that expired in 2008.

America Cruise Lines owns and operates the Queen of the Mississippi, which is competing for business with the American Queen, and would apparently see the Delta Queen as more unwelcome competition. Charles Robertson, chairman and CEO of American Cruise Lines, also owns Chesapeake Shipbuilding, where the Queen of the Mississippi was built. He is currently building four more competing paddlewheel cruise ships. To read the entire article, go here: Connecticut Mirror.

Despite ACL's lobbying, pro-Delta Queen legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives. In the Senate, it is in Jay Rockefeller's Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Therefore, we encourage the steamboat community to send letters of support to Senator Rockefeller and remind him that America is waiting for the Delta Queen to go back into service in the cruise business.

The New York Times also published a story about the Delta Queen on December 17, but neglected to report the negative lobbying. To read the article, go here: A Historic Vessel, Stuck in Place, The New York Times.

Holiday gift idea: a 2014 steamboat wall calendar!
Click here to see the sternwheel towboat calendar by Steve Huffman.
Click here to see the Delta Queen calendar by John Weise.

On Dec 11, 2013, at 6:27 AM, stevegoldberg wrote:

Hi Nori,
I'm just starting a 1/8"scale of the Robert E Lee. I have the plans which atr a good start, but as good as they are, actual construction details are few. Do you know a source that, ideally, has original architect's details, or, detailed close up period photos showing structural details (column, beam, truss, window, floor framing)? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
Steve Goldberg

Editor's Note: If you can help Steve, email him directly - click here.

Dec. 4, 2013
Time to Call Your Two U.S. Senators

The end of Congress is coming up along with the end of the year. The Senate needs to pass the Save the Delta Queen bill now. Otherwise, we need to start all over in 2014. Saving the Delta Queen is an issue to unite the country because everyone wants to see this boat get the exemption. Call both of your Senators and urge them to support S. 1022. Call now! Do it today! (202) 224-3121 (have your Senator's names ready when you call so the operator can connect you immediately). Be polite but firm: The Delta Queen is a vital part of American history we want to preserve for future generations. The Delta Queen must be allowed to work in the cruise industry. She is not ready to retire yet.


Nov. 13, 2013
Opinion: My Wish for the Delta Queen
by Nori Muster, webmaster

It has come to my attention that during the Delta Queen debate in Congress in September, several U.S. Representatives (who shall go unnamed) made erroneous statements about the Delta Queen. They lied—or are just uninformed or brainwashed. They said the Delta Queen has no sprinklers, nor fire sensors, nor fire suppression in any passenger area. They further said there were "no means of aft evacuation." Those are complete lies. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s watching my father add safety systems to the Delta Queen. When he was dying in 1987, I went through all his correspondence and newspaper clippings to help him prepare his papers for the Cincinnati Historical Society. I can assure you that my father spent most of his waking hours from 1966-1976 making sure that the Delta Queen is the safest boat on the river. He won exemption after exemption because Congress recognized the safety of the boat. The Delta Queen has sprinklers, alarms, fire drills, even live-in firefighters! Further, the boat was built in the twentieth century, in Scotland, at the pinnacle of steamboat technology. The boat can run forever with proper maintenance and care.

Current legislative status: The Delta Queen exemption, H.R. 1961, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 25, by an overwhelming majority. Now it needs a vote in the Senate as S. 1022, introduced May 22, 2013 by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH). Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and David Vitter (R-LA) joined them. When S. 1022 comes up for a vote, we will post a notice to call your two U.S. Senators. Meanwhile, trust and pray the boat will go back into the cruise industry. Extra credit: call your two Senators now to tell them that you care about the Delta Queen and look forward to the vote.


Island Queen Photo

On Nov 19, 2013, at 11:02 AM, Craig Stichtenoth wrote:

I have come across an old Island Queen photo in my Dad's stash of steamboat resource materials. I did a quick Google photo search and did not find this photo on the web anywhere. Would you like to add it to your site?
Thanks, Craig

Editor's Note: Great photo. Thank you for sending it!


Looking for a unique and practical
holiday gift, or a great collectible?

Our 2014 Wall Calendar is Here!

Back by popular demand, the 2014 calendar features early photos of sternwheel towboats. The calendar contains 13 large photos printed on heavy card stock, suitable for framing.

Each month features a specific boat along with its history, and a complete calendar page, with holidays marked. The boats featured for 2013 include:


Although we missed 2013, the 2014 calendar marks our 13th year of wall calendar offerings!
Calendar Price: $15.95
Shipping: $4.50 for one (add $1 for each additional calendar).

Please mail check or money order to:
Draftware Inc.
158 Ashland Cove Road
Vevay, IN 47043

Online credit card ordering is available from our web site's giftshop at: [site offline, new site

Below are images of the calendar's front and back covers:



Time Traveller
October 30, 2013


On Oct 29, 2013, at 6:54 PM, John Fryant wrote:

Hi Nori,

I call the painting "Time Traveller" as it shows the Belle of Louisville and the Idlewild together. I also call it my Twilight Zone painting, as this could never happen in real life. It is 24 x 36" less the frame and I painted it in honor of the Belle's upcoming 100th anniversary. The head of the present day Belle is on the right and one of the crew is pointing at the Idlewild steaming out of the past. It is a very hard painting to get a good photo of due to the contrast between the light and dark portions. This is the best I can do with the camera I have. I eventually want to sell it and would like to see it end up in the Louisville area. It has been shown at the Howard Museum and to some of the Belle's management, but no takers yet. In the meantime I thought viewers might enjoy seeing it.

- John

Editor's note: Thank you for sharing this amazing painting, John! Contact John or see John's model boat exhibit at this site, click here.

Cincinnati History
October 30, 2013


On Oct 29, 2013, at 5:05 AM, Craig Stichtenoth wrote:

Hi Nori,

I am involved with a Facebook group called "You know you're from Cincinnati if . . ." Recently, someone posted a photo with the question of what was the vintage of the photo. I added my own comment to the many that were offered, but rather than tell you what I said, I thought I would send you a copy of the photo and invite you to respond.

- Craig

Editor's Note: Craig guessed the year must be pre-1951 because the Gordon C. Greene is tied up to the old Greene Line wharf boat. I would have guessed the same. I asked Craig if anyone else picked it up, and he replied:

On Oct 29, 2013, at 8:32 AM, Cstichtenoth wrote:

One man recognized it but called it General Greene. Most were focused on the cars and were guessing 50's or early 60s. I think some were thinking it was the Delta Queen in the photo although nobody suggested it specifically.

Editor's Note: Craig's late father was a graphic artist who did a lot of work for the Delta Queen. Visit the Warren Stichtenoth art exhibit at this site, click here. Our thanks to the owner of this photo, Diane Hagler, who gave permission to post it at this site. The photo has been in her family for many years.

Ship for Sale
October 30, 2013


On Oct 24, 2013, at 1:01 AM, Walter van den Broek (Faim & Co; ss Succes ao 1897) wrote:

Dear Nori,

After the restoration and resurrection of the Steamship Success anno 1897, I kept it in service as a partyship for more than 16 years with great pleasure! However, in the absence of a successor for the preservation of this "sailing heritage" and because of my intention to move abroad, I decided to end this hobby and start the search for a buyer to give this unique object a new future. The "Succes" offers excellent opportunities as a passenger dayship (party ship/partyboat), but also as a (docked) restaurant or club facility, luxury yacht or houseboat.

Because I don't want to have a big "for sale" sign on the bow, I want to try reaching potential buyers (or a good sales agent) through my personal network.

You may be able to help me with your tips or by bringing this Successful sale to the attention of your friends and/or business associates (by i.e. mail or website). Of course, a successful tip will be rewarded.

This link goes to a private page on our website where you will find the sales brochure (in Dutch and English). If you follow the link you will be asked to register yourself with a username and password after which you will have access to the sales information.

To avoid misunderstandings: the "Success" remains sailing as long as I own the vessel!

I hope you want to help me a step further and responds to this message/request. Many thanks in advance!

Kind regards,
Walter E. van den Broek
Office: Bomenweg 28 - 8316 PJ Marknesse, The Netherlands
Visiting adress ss Succes: Sluis (at nr. 3) - 1357 NZ Almere-Haven
Tel: dial Holland+ (0)527 610600 or (0)653 263287 - waltervandenbroek[at] (get a username-password to login and get information).
Editor's note: We are more than happy to help. Let's get the word out in the steamship community about this amazing boat!

Delta Queen Stamps
October 30, 2013


This item is from Mary Charlton, posted on Facebook, and reposted here as breaking news!

Mary Charlton said:

Steamboaters: interested in making cards, or doing other crafts, with rubber stamps of your favorite boats? We now have the original quality wooden stamps like I bought a few years ago on the Upper Miss! They will be available in two places: the AQ gift shop (as soon as I get them there, November 2) and Stamping Buddies Craft Room and Supplies. This includes the pithy sayings that went with the stamps about how steamboating is the best! I've been doing a card class on the AQ, and it has been very popular, producing very professional-looking cards in no time. Pam Koch owns the store, and can be reached at 513-891-2738. The store is at 4343 E. Galbraith Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45236, and the above name is also a Facebook page. Pam is very helpful with newbies (like me!), and will be happy to show you easy ways to use your stamp, or let you in on the classes she has. Thanks to Claudette Waggoner, the wife of our CEO, John Waggoner, who has supported this project by getting the stamps for the boat, and my boss, Tony Nevitt, for allowing me to do the class on the boat!

Need Ancestry Research Help

On Oct 20, 2013, at 9:24 AM, Marji wrote:

Hi! My g-grandma was Martha Minerva Kennett and her father William Lewis Kennett (1879-1930) worked on boats as did his ancestors. He ran a tug boat on Lake Erie, living in Cleveland in the beginning of the 1900s, and prior worked on steamboats in Allegheny Co. PA/Pittsburgh area and prior, in Gallipolis, Ohio. His wife Alma Dressler, who with her sister Helen, worked in vaudeville and perhaps worked on the show boats like the New Era Floating Palace, I am looking for crew lists and am new to this type of research. Martha told my other g-grandma that her father was a ship's captain and that was "pretty good for an Indian."

His father, Sparrell Kennett (1856-1910) also worked on steamboats, as did W. L.'s brother Dot Kennett, who was a famous steamboat chef and chef. His other brothers probably also worked on them from time to time. Sparrell was married to Belle Furgerson/Ferguson of Pt. Pleasant and her family, her brothers Harper and others worked on steamboats.

Sparrell's father William Kennett (1839-1880) of Franklin Co. Virginia also worked on riverboats and steamboats--he was married to Martha Canady of Patrick Co. Virginia Cannadays.

It does not seem this branch of Kennetts is related to the Luther Kennett branch, who went to Missouri and Kentucky and started a steamboat packet line and railroad and went into government. This line goes back to the 1600s with Martyn Kynnett a shipmate.

I am very interested in steamboat culture, which seemed to embody American diversity and a colorful, and sometimes sad part of American history. If anyone comes across any info concerning Kennetts/Kinnetts, Cannadys/Cannadays, Ferguson/Furgusons or Dresslers on boats. Also, interested in info about Native Americans role in riverboat culture or contact with the boats. Any referrals or help to materials would be greatly appreciated. I am new to this.

Editor's note: If you want to help, contact Marji by email: alpha_mare[at]

Floating Palace Billboard
October 17, 2013

We recently received this image from Robert, who would like more information. It is an advertisement a showboat, etched on a wooden plaque.


If you can provide any background on this item, please write to Robert at seitinc[at] Thanks! - editor

Travel to Mississippi and Louisiana
October 15, 2013

Before setting off for a tour of the Gulf Coast, I will review How to Speak Southern, by Steve Mitchell (Author) and Sam C. Rawls (Illustrator). The back cover assures us, "This book is dedicated to all Yankees in the hope that it will teach them how to talk right." With How to Speak Southern in hand, I am optimistic that my travel to the Gulf Coast will be fun and educational.

The book came back to mind because my taiji teacher began quoting from it in class one night. I said, "Hey! I have that book, I got it in Nashville!" Then I brought it to class later so we could all read entries and laugh. I was happy to see it is still in print. If you have not read it lately, click the title above to see your buying options through

Steamboat for Sale
October 13, 2013

Custom built 120 Steam Powered Paddle Wheel, King County, WA Eight staterooms, real steam power, built in 1984, asking $895,000. Click here to see the ad at

Screen shot 2013-10-13 at 9.47.28 AM

October 4, 2013
Delta Queen May Now Get Needed Work Done

For about half of the new century so far, the beloved Delta Queen has been building up a list of deferred maintenance. She needs one of everything: roofs, paint, mechanical, the works. Now, with funds from the American Express, the National Trust for Historic Preservation may offer the Delta Queen a lifeline (see article - click here). Congress is also defending her, and soon she will be allowed to go back into the cruise industry.

The last five years have been difficult, because the Delta Queen was left like an orphan at the waterfront in Chattanooga to make it on her own as a hotel. It all happened in the middle of a messy bankruptcy. At first the towns people welcomed her, but with difficult parking, and no public transportation, few could visit on a regular basis. Fans of the boat were heartbroken to see her in that condition, so hotel rooms sat empty. Everyone wants to go for a cruise, so her future could be bright if the right things fall into place.

At this time, the Delta Queen is yet another eighty-something who finds herself having to work to survive during these lean times. However, she is anxious to go back to work. When she gets back on the river, she will be swimming in it, as they say, and have the money to address all her maintenance issues. During her final years of service, her angels and fans will have time to make a plan for her final retirement with dignity.

However, given regular maintenance and improvements, the Delta Queen could cruise for another hundred years. Machines and buildings have the potential to last a lot longer than people. In dog years, an eight-seven year old machine is yet a teenager. You replace this part, you replace that part, and as long as you preserve the integrity of the structure, you have the same old ax.

Buildings have even longer dog years. We still have ancient temples in India, pyramids in Egypt, castles in Germany, and thousand year old churches in the British Isles. One good example of a building that came back from the brink is the West Baden Springs Hotel. Originally built in 1902, the place was rubble after a long decline. Then in 1996, a family came along and sunk eleven years and $500,000 (yes, a half-billion dollars) into its restoration. It re-opened in 2007. When I visited last year, it looked perfect. You would never guess it was almost lost. (See photos of the West Baden Springs hotel, click here.)

New Photos at
October 1, 2013

The Dave Thomson wing of the Online Museum now has more than forty new steamboat images. They include illustrations, movie stills, pilot houses, and other photographs, see:
September additions
October additions

Delta Queen Calendars

John Weise reports: the 2014 calendar is back from the printer & ready for shipping!


The calendar features 13 more of John's photos taken from 1998 to 2008 on the Cumberland, Illinois, Ohio & Tombigbee Rivers.


The price will remain at $15 per Calendar plus $2 for shipping (If required to be Mailed)
For more than one calendar the shipping will be $1.50 per calendar.
Get your orders into John Weise by e-mail, phone (513) 385-2381, or snail mail at:
John Weise
5552 Dry Ridge Road
Cincinnati, OH 45252

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