Recent Acquisitions, February 2012, All Categories

Dave Thomson owns a large private collection of steamboat history photos. His collection is displayed at Steamboats.com, and includes photos of historic boats, illustrations used for magazine covers, advertisements, and posters. He has the largest known collection of steamboats in the movies, including an extensive collection of stills from Steamboat 'Round the Bend, a classic know as Will Rogers' last movie. To see an index of the Dave Thomson collection, click here. This page shows his recent acquisitions, as of early 2012.


George M. Verity being pushed into her final berth where she would sit on a foundation and the water drained back into the river. During high flood waters she appears to be floating on the river again when the water rises up all around her.

Excerpt from "The George M. Verity Story" by David Tschiggfrie:

Built in 1927 at Dubuque, Iowa by the U. S. government, as the S.S. Thorpe inaugurated barge service on the upper Mississippi . The first of four steamboats built for the revival of river transportation, it was the first to move barges from St. Louis north to St. Paul. It remained in service there until 1940, when it was sold to Armco Steel Corp. and put in service on the Ohio River. Armco renamed it the George M. Verity after their founder.

In 1960 the Verity was retired after 33 years of service on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, and on 1961, the boat was given to the City of Keokuk for use as a river museum.

Now berthed in Victory Park, it houses a museum of Upper Mississippi River history, and is open daily 9:00 AM--5:00 PM, April to November.

TowboatCLAIRTON Monongahela River Elizabeth, PA color

A Blackhawk Films vintage color slide No. 237-9 Clairton on Monongahela River, Elizabeth, PA.


UPI news photo. The caption says:

October 8, 1974 PEORIA, Illinois

Peoria's third annual steamboat race ends with Peoria's JULIA BELLE SWAIN coming under the finish line well ahead of Cincinnati's DELTA QUEEN. The race was for five miles downstream and was completed in 33 minutes. The race is a part of the Steamboat Days celebration here. (United Press International)


Detail of the vignette on an 1850 waybill written by Henry M. Childs, a forwarding and commission merchant at Catlettsburg, Kentucky which is at the confluence of the Ohio and Big Sandy River in 1850.

The name of the boat is written in long hand and the only word it vaguely resembles is "Nebraska." I sent you a scan of the document itself and perhaps you or someone in our "fan base" will be able to decipher it.

There must be folks who specialize in reading the scrawls of the penmanship-challenged folks of yesteryear.

brief history excerpted from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catlettsburg,_Kentucky

Catlettsburg is located in the northeast corner of Kentucky at the confluence of the Ohio and Big Sandy rivers. It is considered part of the Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio "Tri-state area".

A United States Post Office was first opened here in 1808 as Mouth of Sandy, Va.

In 1849, civil engineer James Fry, was commissioned to lay out the original town of Catlettsburg (the area from 24th to 26th streets, and from the former Front to present-day Walnut Streets). T

The lots were quickly sold, and the community was named after brothers Horatio and Alexander "Sawny" Catlett.

They first settled here in in 1811 and resided at the location for at least 26 years.

After establishing this settlement, the Catlett's operated a combination business here that consisted of a tavern, post office, trading post, and inn, all out of a log structure they built from virgin timber in 1811.

Due to its location along the route of the American frontier, the Catlett's provided hospitality to such notable patrons as General Stonewall Jackson, Henry Clay, Felix Grundy and future U.S. President James Garfield.

Catering to the ever growing river traffic, the Catlett business flourished and the present day town grew up around it. Unbelievably, the Catlett home built in 1811 is still standing two hundred years later, and has long been used as the "servants quarters" of Beechmoor Place, a large home located on Walnut Street.


2.30 X 4.15 snapshot of the SUTER on the Missouri River near St. Joseph, MO.

Fred Way's Towboat Directory "biography":

Stw tb sh 1928-1952. b. Gasconade, MO, 159x30x5. Condensing engines 12's,24's-6 ft. stroke by Shelton. Water- tube boiler, oil burner. Owned by USE and a sister boat to BIXBY. Capt. Robert H. Wilson was master for some time on the Missouri River, Charles Weiher, chief engineer. Sold at public sale to Capt. I W. Menke, St. Louis, February 7, 1952 for $8,307.77. He renamed her CHAPERON and moored her with his showboat GOLDENROD at St. Louis. The CHAPERON was non-operating except to supply steam and electrical power for the showboat.


Front cover 7.40 X 10.40 inches of Volume 6 of the 16 Volume Series THE GOLDEN TREASURY OF KNOWLEDGE, 1961

Cover artist Alton Tobey appears to have chosen photos of the GORDON C. GREENE (background) and the GOLDEN EAGLE (foreground) as references for his painting. Tobey depicted the EAGLE's smokestacks as being cylindrical until about a third of the way up from the deck, then they arbitrarily began to taper upwards so they stacks are narrower at the top which I don't recall seeing on a photo or illustration of any Mississippi and tributaries style of steamboat. Outside of that and a rather bilious color scheme this is an interesting illustration.

One of the 28 articles in Volume 6 is devoted to THE FIRST STEAMSHIPS pages 460-63


Product of Fred W. Hinz & Sons Co. Cincinnati. Circa 1950(?)

The illustration (with "full moon") is based on a daytime photo of the Gordon C. Greene that we have in one of the old photos sections.


Wisconsin's Fox and Wolf River steamboat WOLF acquired through eBay. A very small original print on thin paper but in pretty sharp focus.

Note door to the pilot house on the port side with short name board forward of it, believe there would have been another door on the starboard side as well.

Generous sized skylights for what must have been the boiler room. Only the one gent standing in front of the steep stairs moved and gave away the short time exposure. Even the lady and her dog stood still enough not to blur.

What follows is Jim Hale's comments on the vertical object with rectangular holes in it which is standing straight up on the main deck:







4 1/2 inch diameter tin that holds 3 1/2 ounces from the Scandinavian Tobacco Co. distributed by HOLLCO in the U.S. The scan picks up scratches etc. not visible to the naked eye. I'll try a digital photo as well, it might look prettier. What "Finest Old Belt" is I don't know although if you shredded a leather belt; put it in a pipe and ignited it, the result when you inhaled the smoke would probably be very much like "ta'backy."


This is Michael Blaser's UNDER THE BRIDGE painting which I received from Iowa today and put it back in the frame that was made for it. Michael adjusted the hog chain posts on the Queen City and Tacoma to correspond with a reference model that Fryant built of the QC and photos of the Tacoma. This is above the hearth of my fireplace with ship's clock and some old wood type spelling STEAMBOAT and TOM SAWYER. Little like vintage bronze sculpture bronze on the right is the spitting image of Tom Sawyer.


Steamboat room Christmas card photography by Dave Thomson. He explains:

While I was married I'd pose our gang of critters for the Christmas card ever year. The population grew during that 10 years. This was the last one taken at our Sepulveda home. Also attached photo with the names attached for identification. It was nerve wracking trying to keep these characters from running away in the process, especially Babe, the cat at the bottom. The pilot wheel is off the 1929 sternwheel towboat Blue Wing up at Keokuk. The 1905 banjo is the one I use for decor since I never mastered the instrument. The steamboat prints are by illustrator Dean Cornwell.


From old real photo P.C.

On verso it's post marked 14 Aug 1907 Paducah. addressed to Miss Ruth (something), McKinney, KY.

On front is written:

This is where I live on Cumberland River—you can see the crew of the Str Rowena on Top. AGJ (?)

on back is written:

I think there will be a Lion in your city soon but don't get scared & run too quick. I like this run fine have plenty of young ladies (something, something)

Boat facts:

Rowena (1904 - 1931)
owned first by Burnside & Burnsville Packet Co.
owned last by Cumberland Transportation Co.
Ran on upper Cumberland also on the Ohio River during low water seasons.
In 1917 ran Louisville-Evansville


Sharp snapshot of the ALABAMA at the St. Louis levee with a "Texas" deck added which elevated the roof of the pilot house to a level only a short distance below the top of the stacks.


19 1/8 X 23 1/4 lithograph from '50's or '60's probably by an artist imitating Dean Cornwell's style although by comparison the RIVER BELLE here is more in the realm of commercial illustration or calendar art. Cornwell more than likely saw this and may have winced a bit since it's pretty raw compared to his beautifully finessed paintings of steamboats. Those stacks certainly are larger in diameter than average and the elaborate design in the half circle above the name on the paddlebox is a contrivance which I don't recall seeing in photos of on any of the Western Rivers boats. The stages out front, the main and boiler decks are pretty successful, the pilot house on the Texas deck is rather squat like the ones on boats where a Texas was added after the boat had operated for a while and the height of the pilot house was often made shorter on those occasions. I scanned this in 2 halves, left and right, cobbled them together in Photoshop, retouched some paper scrapes that were in the upper right and made a color correction to reduce the green tone which prevailed in the original.


CARRIE BROOKS: Built in Pittsburgh 1866, 310 tons; first home port was Wheeling, Virginia; first ran Zanesville-Parkersburg, Captain James Darlington. In 1870 she departed Zanesville with emigrants and possessions bound for Kansas, and she reshipped them at St. Louis to destination. She returned to run Pittsburgh-Zanesville and briefly Pittsburgh-Wheeling, Captain Harvey Darlington. Captain John A. Trimble bought control in 1878, ran her Pittsburgh-Gallipolis, then Pittsburgh-Zanesville with not much success. In 1878 she was sold to Captain William B. Kountz who stripped her of machinery and sold the hull to Sistersville, West Virginia, for a wharf boat

PilotsLicenseKountz1855 125

A 1855 pilot's "certificate" for Wm. J. Kountz who was a pain in the neck to Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War. This particular 1852 U.S. printing office form and the steamboat vignette I had never seen before.

This is the only pre-Civil War Pilot's License I've been able to get a hold of so far. The excerpt from "Men of Fire" should probably be synopsized or abridged if it is used with the file which could go under Pilot Houses.

Attached scan of the first renewal of the Pilot's License for William J. Kountz was issued October 4th, 1855 and signed by John S. Dickey.

Inspectors Dickey & his fellow inspector Andrew Watson were dismissed from their duties in 1858 after the steamer Fanny Fern (a boat they had inspected) exploded her boiler, killing 15 people.

Dickey & Watson are listed as authors of a volume entitled A vindication of the action of the late local inspectors at Pittsburgh in the case of the explosion of the steamer Fanny Fern

William J. Kountz was also a Steamboat Captain during the Civil War. He gained notoriety because of his conflict with Ulysses S. Grant.

Details of these events can be found in several books, including The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant December 9, 1862 - March 31, 1863 by Ulysses Simpson Grant, John Y. Simon, Ulysses S. Grant Association,

Ulysses S. Grant, 1861-1864: his rise from obscurity to military greatness by William Farina, and The Personal Memoirs of Julia Dent Grant (Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant) by Julia Dent Grant & John Y. Simon

At one point, McClellan appointed Kountz "Superintendent of of water transportation of Troops and Supplies in western Virginia," on the Ohio & Kanahwa rivers.

Kountz was part or full owner of several vessels, including the Henry C. Yeager, Carrie V. Kountz, Katie P. Kountz, John F. Tolle, and Mollie Moore, all of which were vessels in the "Kountz Line." Other records indicate Kountz owned a bank & other enterprises.

This following account of the conflicts between Grant and Kountz is from Men of Fire: Grant, Forrest, and the Campaign That Decided the Civil War, by Jack Hurst, Basic Books 2008. Available from Amazon.com. Click here to go to Amazon.

Grant's greatest source of anxiety during the winter of 1861-62 . . . seems to have been William J. Kountz, forty-five-year-old owner of a Pennsylvania steamboat fleet. The war had blocked river commerce from the Mid-west to New Orleans and idled the bulk of the steamboat industry, and McClellan had recruited Kountz and some of his boats to assist in the eastern Ohio-western Virginia theatre. A river pilot for a quarter-century and a builder and owner of steamboats for more than two decades, Kountz became McClellan's superintendent of water transportation and doubtless expected to profit from authorizing the placing of some of his own inactive boats in government service. A postwar thumbnail biography asserts that during the summer and fall of 1861 Kountz "purchased all the steamboats that Were converted into gunboats, and also many other boats for transports." Due to the incompetence of Lincoln's legendarily corrupt first secretary of war, Pennsylvanian Simon Cameron, all sorts of suppliers were fleecing the government during this period. A friend would later assert that Kountz was rigidly honest, though, and McClellan clearly valued him, eventually sending him to St. Louis to organize river transportation there."

Known for his abrasiveness, Kountz began stepping on toes in Cairo, asking questions without checking in at Grant's headquarters, soon after his arrival sometime in the latter hall of December. Grant penned him a stiff note saying he had heard the visitor had been "making inquiries into matters pertaining to this command" and ordering him to stop "until you have reported to me and shown your authority." It turned out, however, that Kountz had reported to Grant's subordinate, McClernand and he soon began implying that Grant was participating in corruption in steamboat and other contracts.

Any such assumption was without merit. Financially honest nearly to the point of naiveté, Grant just the preceding week had followed up a Chicago Tribune report that there was corruption in lumber contracting in the office of his Cairo quartermaster. He soon reported that his investigation showed the newspaper's charges to he true and asked that the quartermaster be replaced. Periodically in deep need of money in the years before the war, Grant never tried to acquire it by cheating anybody. But, needing to make a favorable impression on Halleck, he was understandably leery of Kountz's clumsy probing.

Even friends acknowledged that Kountz was overbearingly insistent, devoid of tact, and oblivious to military chains of command. In mid-January, Grant ordered him arrested, saying that the Pennsylvanian's "great unpopularity with river men and his wholesale denunciation of everybody connected with the Government here as thieves and cheats" had made it difficult to get crews and boats to move troops. Grant had been forced to also arrest some of the boatmen to get them to serve at all. He suggested that Kountz be assigned elsewhere, writing that the troublemaker seemed to want his position only to punish riverboat operators he disliked and to acquire government business for a craft in which he had invested. But Grant lodged no charges, saving that they would be "embarrassing to the service."

Things got embarrassing anyway. In late January 1862, Grant found himself struggling to weather his most dangerous drinking controversy of the war with none of the credentials of victory that would sustain him through more clamorous episodes later.

A reputation for thirst had dogged him front the old prewar army, but it had received renewed and wider notice the previous autumn. An October evening he spent reminiscing about the Mexican War with Smith in the Paducah, Kentucky, quarters of Wallace spawned lurid" newspaper "accounts of the meeting at my house," Wallace would later remember. It was an orgie [sic], a beastly drunken revel by both Grant. and Smith—so the story ran," Wallace went on. Wallace then offered a correction, although somewhat faintly: "There were liquors and cigars on the night in question, and some singing [italics added], but no intoxication or anything like a revel. Nevertheless, a charge against General Grant of habitual drunkenness arose about that time, and spread through the country."

And into ominous circles. On December 17, a Galena citizen recently returned from St. Louis wrote to Grant's most influential sponsor, Illinois congressman and Lincoln intimate Elihu B. Washburne, that he had learned on "good authority that Gen] Grant is drinking very hard" and suggested that Washburne write to John Rawlins, a self-described liquor-loathing Galena lawyer and Grant aide who claimed to monitor and discourage Grant's thirst. Washburne did write Rawlins, who replied with a long, impassioned letter defending Grant. Rawlins said the statement that "Gen'l Grant is drinking very hard" was "utterly untrue" but acknowledged there had been occasions when visits by prominent Chicagoans and others did prompt the general to down single glassfuls of champagne or, during problems with a dyspeptic stomach, two glasses a day of beer. In "no instance," Rawlins insisted, did Grant ever drink "to excess" or "enough to in the slightest" hamper his job performance.

But the rumors did not die. On December 30, abstinence fanatic William Bross of the Chicago Tribune wrote Secretary of War Cameron that he and associate editors at the Tribune had accumulated "convincing" evidence that "Gen U. S. Grant commanding at Cairo is an inebriate ... We think it best to call your attention to this matter. rather than to attack Gen. Grant in the Tribune." Noting that lie did not know Secretary Cameron personally, Bross gave references that included his Excellency President Lincoln."

On January 17, the arrested Kountz—himself reputed to be fanatically abstemious—fired off a letter to brand-new Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Like Kountz, Stanton was a prominent figure in Pittsburgh and had helped recommend the steamboatman to McClellan. Kountz told Stanton about his plight and added that "Stealing from Govt. is still going on here." The next week he went on to draft formal and inflammatory charges against Grant, alleging among other things not only that the Cairo commander had tippled with enemy officers on flag-of-truce steamboat trips to Columbus, Kentucky, but that Grant repeatedly had become so drunk around headquarters that he was "unfitted for any business." The document purported to cite specific dates and places."'

His friends rejected these charges as motivated by vengefulness, but Grant needed to get moving down the Tennessee River—or somewhere—while he still had an army.

Cornwell BETSY ANN Kentucky Riverboat 11.75 X 13

Print of a painting Cornwell made for an Early Times Whisky Ad '52 of the BETSY ANN which was entitled Kentucky River Boat and measures 11 3/4 X 13 3/4 inches floating inside 16 X 20 (margins on all 4 sides). Believe it was published in the same TRUE magazine issue that had Cornwell's BETSY ANN steaming towards us on the cover and the Cornwell double page illustration of the TENNESSEE BELLE pilot house done for the Ben Lucien Burman story. Since this print is framed it had to be scanned in 2 halves and cobbled together.


Just arrived today: a novel copyrighted 1927 & '28 by Doubleday (it may have been serialized in a magazine) in '27 and printed as book in '28) about steamboating in the 1850's. The dust jacket is a bit worn so I restored it a bit in the attached file. I already had an undated reprint of this novel which with the strange title 'RIVERMEN DIE BROKE' which led me to search online for the hardcover edition of the original publication. The artist Frederick Blakeslee (1898 - 1973) who designed the dust jacket in the style of a poster but his specialty was more realistic illustrations of "Flying Aces" in World War I "dog fights" (aerial combat).

Old Father of Waters

A Vivid Novel of the Mississippi

Author of "Painted Ponies"

"Old Father of Waters" is a tale of the old, wild days on the lower Mississippi in 1858. Captain Arnold Huston is the central figure of the variegated throng of river-men, planters and merchants who march through the pages of the book. First with his boat the "Peter Swain" and later with the "Arnold Huston" Captain Huston opposes the force of the voracious stream. Duels, disaster, fire and flood play their parts in the story, through which runs a vein of mystery that comes to a crisis in a race of two rival steamers for a supreme stake.

Drawing on the actual history of the times, Mr. LeMay has written a powerful novel that carries the reader back to the picturesque days of old New Orleans.

A. L. BURT COMPANY Publishers - New York - 1928

RAILROAD March 49 Hannibal St JoWhiteMargins

This is a scan of the cover of the March 1949 issue of RAILROAD MAGAZINE by Frederick Blakeslee (same artist who created the dust jacket for OLD FATHER OF WATERS).

The cover art was entitled "First Run on the Old 'St. Joe' (Burlington)," so I gather the scene is intended to represent the shore of the Mississippi River at Burlington, Iowa. This same issue of RAILROAD MAGAZINE contains an article called "Burlington Route 1849 - 1949 A Photo Story," pages 12 to 43.

The very first mail car ever built was constructed in Hannibal, Missouri for the HANNIBAL & ST. JOSEPH RAILROAD in 1862. (Note the name of that railroad is on the mail car).

The name of the steamboat at the landing appears to begins with "SILVER" but the rest of the name is indecipherable. Two possible candidates for what Blakeslee intended as the name of the boat are SILVER LAKE which operated during the 1860's and SILVER MOON which operated from the 1850's to 1869.

FallsCityHighBridgeKY Kentucky River HALF

Ye ol' FALLS CITY passing under Kentucky's imaginatively named High Bridge on the Kentucky River.

Brief background from Jessamine County tourism site: http://www.jessamineco.com/tourism/highbridge.htm "When the bridge was built in 1877 it was the highest railroad trestle in the world and the first cantilever bridge in North America and the highest bridge over a navigable stream until the early 20th century. It towers about 280 feet over the Kentucky River Palisades."


The sternwheeler FORT SUTTER: 1,139 tons, 219.2 feet, was built for the overnight passenger trade between San Francisco and Sacramento.

The FORT SUTTER was built by Schultze, Robertson & Schultze Ship Builders at San Francisco and launched there in 1912.

Both the FORT SUTTER and the CAPITAL CITY (which was built in 1910) had the distinction of being built with private baths which was a first in luxurious passenger comfort on the Sacramento River

In 1927 the DELTA KING and DELTA QUEEN replaced the FORT SUTTER and CAPITAL CITY in the overnight passenger service trade between Sacramento and San Francisco.

In 1942 the FORT SUTTER was drafted for troop transport in San Francisco Bay along with the DELTA KING & DELTA QUEEN; the ISLETON which was renamed the ARMY QUEEN, the PORT OF STOCKTON (formerly the CAPITAL CITY) and the CROCKETT (formerly the H.J. CORCORAN).

For a while, the FORT SUTTER was a floating bistro on Threemile Slough, then later burned on the beach in San Francisco, on a date yet to be determined.

The three boats in the distance to the left of the Fort Sutter are the J.D. PETERS (BUILT 1889), the GRIMES (a small utility boat used to haul materials around the harbor for the shipyards) and the celebrated CAPTAIN WEBER (built in 1892) which went on to play Mississippi and Ohio River steamboats in the period films THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, SWANEE RIVER, DIXIE and THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN


Nice cover for this juvenile fiction book. Jonathan Dale on the dust jacket looks uncannily like Michael Jackson. The Jonathan is performing on the stage of the showboat JAMBALAYA.

THE BANJO PLAYER by Elizabeth Starr Hill dust jacket art copyright 1993 by Dennis Nolan

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993 In a prequel to Street Dancers and Broadway Chances, Hill goes back to Clement Dale's grandfather, Jonathan, on a journey from New York to New Orleans and beyond. At 12, Jonathan Dale leaves the city streets where he's gotten along on his own for years, performing for passers-by. In 1887, he boards the Orphan Train, hoping to be selected from the line of ragged homeless children for adoption. Chosen by a hardscrabble Louisiana tenant family, Jonathan struggles to fit in and to please his new parents but remains emotionally detached from them and new sister Eugenie (also from the Orphan Train). Jonathan needs people, music, and the chance to perform; the silent hours of grueling farm labor drain him. After exchanging situations with another orphan, he moves to New Orleans, then to a touring showboat, where he's encouraged to perform once again. Hill's prose is sure and vivid. Though Jonathan's aloofness is somewhat distancing, the story hums with well-drawn characters and quiet humor, ably bringing history to life. (Fiction. 10-14)
Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-670-84967-7
Review Posted Online: May 20th, 2010


Finessed scan of a book cover painted by the authoress Madye Lee Chastain who also drew a sizable number of pen and ink illustrations inside the book as well. STEAMBOAT SOUTH

By Madye Lee Chastain
Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 1951
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Kirkus' Review
Another dainty, starched story for little girls by the author of "Loblolly Farm" with a sizeable amount of period charm. Amy Travis could hardly believe that she was to go by steamboat all by herself from Ohio to Texas, but her only relatives, Aunt Agnes and Uncle Will, had saved enough money for her steamboat fare, and she was thrilled to be taking the wonderful journey and becoming a part of a real family. There were gay and exciting goings-on on the steamboat with the explosive Beazies, a family for whom Amy worked as part-time nursemaid, kind Mrs. Binkle, under whose protection Amy was allowed to see the dancing, and good times aboard ship, two lovely French girls, a kind itinerant painter and others. A story of kind friends and gentle people and ladylike excitement with a realistic glimpse of the days just preceding the Civil War.


More images from Steamboat Round the Bend.

This is from a "linen" post card made by "Pictorial Wonderland/Art Tone Series" circa 1940. The company may have licensed the image from 20th Century Fox although the copyright is under the name of Stanley A. Filtz, San Francisco. Stan the Man was probably only copyrighting this color version. Kaywoodie Pipes also ran an ad which used a color version of a photo of the start of the race with costumed extras in the foreground. I couldn't eliminate the vertical "linen" texture" which is distracting. The retoucher made some of the outlines on the boats bolder for legibility most likely.

More info. about linen postcards:


Linen Postcards: A Growing Obsession

While vintage postcard collecting has always been very popular, one of the quickest rising interests in this hobby just might be collecting Linen Postcards. Linen postcards' obvious appeal is their artistic colorful style, multitude of subjects along with a relatively low cost.

Linen postcards are easily identifiable by the type of high rag card stock they were printed on which was produced with a linen finish; a textured pattern distinguished by parallel and intersecting lines resembling linen cloth. The face of the card was the textured side and the reverse was smooth just like other postcards. Due to the use of this paper, linen postcards could be printed with brighter inks creating vibrantly colored images making them a huge advancement over the earlier white border postcards.

Linen postcards' heyday was from the years of the 1930's when they were introduced through 1945. They were the principal kind of postcard made during this time because of emerging equipment. It allowed production of linen postcards to be more economical in view of the fact that printing costs in Europe were becoming prohibitive because of tariffs. In the beginning, linens maintained the white border look along the edges of the card. Gradually disappearing as manufacturers started printing the image all the way to the card's edge.

Somewhere around 1939, Photochrome or "chrome" postcards came into existence as new advancements became available. Chrome postcards gained popularity after 1945 and linen postcard manufacturers either changed over to this new technology or closed shop. However, some linen postcards were still produced until the late 1950's and early 60's.

One of the best-known publishing firms of quality linen postcards was Curt Teich. Although the company originated back in 1898, they gained recognition with their imaginative depictions used on their linen postcards. One type of card that proved very popular even to this day was their "Large Letter" postcard that spelled out the name of a location, such as, a city or state. Inside over-sized, three-dimensional letters were contained little pictures depicting various aspects of the card's topic.

Linen Postcard's subject matter runs the gamut from interiors to town and scenic views to buildings to comic. Some of the more sought after topics are roadside establishments like motels, diners, bus and gas stations. Clearly linen postcards are reminiscent of a specific and significant era of American culture providing the collector with a warm sense of nostalgia.

Advantages in collecting linen postcards are that they are readily available and reasonably priced. Due to their considerable number, it is recommended that the collector focus on obtaining cards in mint condition with attractive topics, which should be reasonably easy. Thus allowing a collector with a limited budget to establish a beautiful and possibly a substantial collection.


Finally got around to making positive I.D.'s on the 5 boats in the starting line up for the race in Steamboat Round the Bend.

Added the names above each boat to this reduced photo of the boats in the line up at the start of the race in Steamboat 'Round the Bend, from left to right:

T.C. Walker (1885 - 1938)
Port of Stockton formerly Capital City (1910-1942) as "Pride of Paducah"
Cherokee (1912 - 1939)
Leader (1884 - 1938) as the "Claremore Queen"
Pride of the River (1878 - 1942)


I photocopied these photos of the LEADER in the Disney Research Library back in the '80's. It was dated 1928 and rubber stamped "Al D'Agostino" who was probably the photographer.

If the 1928 date was correct then the LEADER had gingerbread added for a silent film prior to her being renamed the CLAREMORE QUEEN for Steamboat Round the Bend in 1935.

There's a story point early in the movie in which Dr. John (Rogers) points out to his alcoholic engineer that the boat he's taken possession of is looking shabby and needs fixing up and they do paint her in the next sequence.

So the scruffy appearance of the LEADER here may have been the starting point prior to her being freshened up as the CLAREMORE QUEEN and these photos may have been taken when the art directors were looking over the LEADER in '35 (rather than '28) before they gave the boat new name boards saying CLAREMORE QUEEN.


In case anyone wonders how I identified the boat that played the "Pride of Paducah" in 'Round the Bend, here's a photo of the PORT OF STOCKTON (which was originally called the CAPITAL CITY), built in 1910 with her stacks converted from a single to a double configuration to look more like a Mississippi River steamboat.

In this photo the PORT OF STOCKTON's name on her bow and pilot house name boards had not yet been changed by boat yard sign painters to "Pride of Paducah" (in honor of Irvin S. Cobb [whose hometown was Paducah, Kentucky] who played fictional Eli, the Captain of the fictional boat in STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND.

The design of this boat and her "sister ship" the FORT SUTTER build in 1912, anticipated the style of the DELTA QUEEN and DELTA KING. The curved front of the pilot house is the most prominent similarity with the overall profile of the boat from stem to stern also being very reminiscent of the two DELTAs.

City of Pittsburgh. Photo Courtesy of Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Steamboat Collection Photographs


photo was taken during the filming of Steamboat 'Round the Bend and released as a publicity still for the movie. I would guess this was taken from the CLAREMORE QUEEN and that the little boat that's approaching was a little local boat on the Sacramento that director John Ford cast as "atmosphere" on the river but so far I haven't come across a scene in the movie where this boat actually appeared so it may have ended up "on the cutting room floor." It's also possible that this little boat ran on gasoline rather than steam and since the movie is set in the 1890's it would have been an anachronism because the first boat that ran on gas wasn't introduced on the Mississippi River until 1914.


Four screen captures of Claremore Queen and Pride of Paducah from the Steamboat 'Round the Bend race sequence. Wish that the actual pilots of the boats had been interviewed to give their account of steering them during these scenes.


An advertisement for Thermo-Jac Shoelaces (see the laces on the models' frock and shorts) which was taken in the pilot house of the "Bayou Belle Restaurant" at St. Louis which looks like it was aboard the RIVER QUEEN. I didn't purchase this but saved the online picture as a novelty. Looks like early '60's and girl on right looks a lot like actress Mariette Hartley.

SteamboatBendRogersNewFeb2012 SHARPENED

Will Rogers in Steamboat 'Round the Bend.

Steamboat Bend Promo of Novel 1934 for Nori

This is a scan of a magazine promo published 6 months after the novel Steamboat Round the Bend was first published, with rave reviews from critic. Included below a transcript of the text of the promo. The illustrator, Alice Caddy was the wife of Ben Lucien Burman who wrote the novel.

I doubtful that modern critics would be as generous in their appraisal of the novel today. It's a novel that resonated in its time (the mid 1930's) and not an enduring classic in the same league as Sam Clemens' novels TOM SAWYER and HUCK FINN.

Somewhere I read that Will Rogers himself bought the screen rights to the novel but I haven't confirmed that. It could be that John Ford, the Director of the movie was the one who bought it and filmed it on the Sacramento River for the Fox motion picture studio.

Keaton's STEAMBOAT BILL JR. 1928 6 frames

Attached 6 screen captures from Buster Keaton's 1928 silent action/comedy filmed on the Sacramento River, STEAMBOAT BILL, JR.

Steamboat KING (twin stacks) belongs to the father of Keaton's love interest. The STONEWALL JACKSON (single stack) belongs to Keaton's Dad.


Calendar art, looks like circa late 40's, early '50's. It was captioned "Steamboat Round the Bend," size 6 X 10 1/4 inches. Ohio River setting apparently judging from the distant hills.

Nice painting technique, the artist was a practiced hand at controlling the medium. If compare to the photo of the City of Pittsburg (Neg. 10325, see below) at the Murphy site you will see see the many liberties the painter took while idealizing & romanticizing the boat, altering its style and many details.

C of P had a brief life span, only 4 years.

Built 1899 at Harmar, Ohio at Knox Yard
Burned at 4 a.m. on Sunday, April 20, 1902 along the Kentucky shore of the Ohio River in the Grand Chain, not far above Dam 53

Officers & crew: Captain John M. Phillips (commanding officer, 1899; master, 1902); Dana Scott (purser, 1899); James Rawley (pilot, 1899); Ed McLaughlin (pilot, 1899); Art Shriver (mate, 1902); Clayton Crawford (engineer, 1902); Harry Doss (pilot, 1902); Captain Wes Doss (senior pilot, 1902); Tom Smith (cub pilot, 1902) Ohio and Mississippi Rivers

Way Packet Directory- 1122; Much of her equipment was from the former City of New Orleans. Her first trip was a round trip Pittsburgh-New Orleans, after which she was entered in the Pittsburgh-Louisville trade 1899 and spring of 1900. Ran Cincinnati-Louisville briefly, then was entered in the Cincinnati-Memphis trade. When she burned in 1902, over 60 lives were lost including Captain Sylvester Doss, pilot and Tom Smith, cub pilot

UW La Crosse Historic Steamboat Photographs


City of Pittsburgh. Photo Courtesy of Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Steamboat Collection Photographs

Dave Thomson Museum Wing Index