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Published in the Burlington Saturday Evening Post 
March 26, 1921- 1922    


Sept. 17, 1921

On our first trip of the Dr. Franklin No. 2, with Captain Smith Harris occurred a somewhat memorable and exciting race with another boat of those days, the Nominee, Capt. Orrin Smith, a brother-in-law of Capt. Smith Harris.  The Dr. Franklin No. 2 was in the St. Louis and St. Paul trade making a round trip every two weeks; the Nominee was making a round trip from Galena to St. Paul each week.  There was some rivalry as the Nominee having been recently put into the trade was making some inroad into what the Dr. Franklin No. 2 interests conceived to be their pasture.  On our way up we had some brushes with her but there was nothing decisive.  On the return tip she left St. Paul first and we left as soon after as we could, it being early in the evening.  We traveled fast keeping a sharp lookout of our rival.  At Read’s Landing we heard she was just ahead of us and when we reached grand encampment some six or seven miles below Read’s , found her lying under a point waiting us.  She swung out right behind us with the evident intention of giving us the led and then running by is in a straight test of speed or strategy, either being a victory for her and a discomfiture for us.  We slacked up and offer her a chance to take the lead but she declined to take it so we settled down to a fair fight and no favors and the race soon became very exciting.  At Crooked slough the Nominee attempted a little strategy by going through Paint Rock slough but she came out further behind us than when starting in.  At Guttenburg we took a wood flat in tow, dumped the wood on board as soon as possible and still held the lead into Dubuque where both boats landed.  We got away first and kept the lead into Galena reaching there early in the evening; twenty two hours from St. Paul, the quickest time I ever made between those point sand the longest drawn out and hottest race I ever under took.  There were times when the oats were not far apart and the cheering and the jeering that passed back and forth with the excitement and nerve strain made some extremely tense moments.

      Note:- further in regard to the race between the Dr. Franklin No. 2 and the Nominee.  Mr. M. W. Hanks, of Stillwater Minn., a son of Captain Hanks, give the following:  “I have often heard my father talk about his race as being the most exciting and hardest fought one he had ever experienced in all his career and a steamboat pilot.  In his account of it he does not mention the fact that he never left the pilot house from the time he left St. Paul until they reached Dubuque and that he piloted the boat the whole trip from St. Paul to Galena .

  “He also told me that when they were obliged to land for wood, as they did not always find a wood cargo to take in tow all the passengers, as well as the crew helped to ‘wood Up” in order to get started as son as possible.  It was when either boat stopped for wood that the other would get ahead, so it was a game of see-saw a great part of the distance until the Franklin took the lead at Guttenburg after which she was always ahead.

  “In those days the boats carried the iron torch baskets in which was burned pine wood and pitch, or resin, for light when at landings.  Father said they had a plentiful supply of resin in barrels on board which was freely used in the furnace to keep her boiling and before they reached Dubuque the breechings were practical red hot to the top of their jackets from use of resin and oil in the furnace.

  “All freight was refused except that which would be taken on without loss of time when stopping to deliver or take on mail, which they were obliged to stop for.” Some good old days, eh?” F. A. B.


Collected by Sue Rekkas

and Transcribed by

Georgeann McClure


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