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Missippi River Steamboats


Posted By: Ken Wright (email)
Date: 4/14/2015 at 21:09:41

Dubuque Times-Journal, April 22, 1911

Among thr records of old days on the river, preserved in the office of the Dubuque bridge engineer, is one little book of the early eighties, which is extremely interesting, telling a story as it does, of the passing of scores of boats which busily plied the upper waters of the Mississippi thirty years ago. Only three boats now running on the upper river are enrolled in this old volume, the Eclipse, the Sidney and the Ben Hershey. All of the hundred or more boats are numbered among the river's vanishing fleets. Some few are probably in service on other parts of the river and its tributaries and the machinery of several of the others is still being used although the old hulls and cabins have long since gone to the scrap pile. For the most part, however, the old boats are entirely gone. Many burned to the water's edge, others sank and were abandoned and the remainder outlived their usefulness and went the way of all Mississippi boats, which at best are not long-lived crafts.

The great variety of names of boats passing through the draw in 1881 and 1882 is in marked contrast to conditions existing today, when scarcely more than a dozen individual boats whistle for the draw in a single season. A few rafters, a packet or two and an occasional government boat are about all that remain of the once mighty fleet of up-river steamers.

The names of the following old-time boats, contained in the little book at the draw, may prove interesting and will refresh the memory of the old residents who saw them pass up and down the stream in the river's oft-spoken "palmy days:"
Pauline, Moline, Lady Grave, Last Chance, Flying Eagle, Menomonie, Helen Mar, Diamond Jo, Ida Fulton, Dorchester, D. Boardman, Sam Atlee, Charlotte Voeckler, W. J. Young, Lizzie Gardner, War Eagle, Josie, A. T. Jenks, David Bronson, D. C. Fogel, Zada, Keokuk, Mary Morton, F. Denckniann, Pittsburg, White Eagle, City of Winona, Robert Dodds, Ten Broeck, Pilot, Penn Wright, H. J. Wheeler, Nettie Durant, Cowles, Alfred Toll, L. W. Borden, Silver Wave, Sterling, Albany, Belle of LaCrosse, Mountain Belle, Artemus Lamb, Natrona, Brother Jonathan, Stillwater, Dan Hine, Silas Wright, Redwing, Golden Gate, Hiram Price, G. H. Wilson, Little Eagle, Isaac Staples, H. Schuenberg, Tiber, Maggie Kearney, Lillie Turner, Abner Gile, Jennie Gilchrist, W. M. White, Peter Kerns, Mary, Nettie Thomas, Tidal Wave, Augusta, Maggie Reaney, Dart, Cora Emily, Minnesota, Lafayette Lamb, St. Croix, Imperial, Jim Watson, Hartford, John M. Chalmers, Louisville, C. F. Caffrey, Park Painter, Mollie Mohler, Lumberman, Evansville, LeClaire, Belle, Iowa, Nellie Beach, Libbie Conger, M. Whitmore, Bella Mac, Clyde, Kit Carson, J. S. Keator, Emma, Arkansas, Grand Pacific, and Dexter.

Large numbers of the boats of the old days were named after wives and daughters of their owners; others were given names of cities along the river, while others were given such fanciful titles as "War Eagle," "White Eagle," "Bald Eagle," and many other eagles. The book contains an entry regarding the burning of the beautiful Ohio river steamer Idelwild, which a short time before its destruction was on the upper river. The boat was burned to the water's edge at Covington, Ky, in 1882. She was 250 feet long and cost $12,000.00. The Idelwild was born at Paducah, Ky., in 1875.


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