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 February 2013.
You've got to love the old J.B. Bassett, she has a picturesque and unpretentious working boat quality to her that is ingratiating.
Her owners name sounds like it should be adopted by a trendy new brewery: The Mississippi and Rum River Boom Co.
The Mississippi River field guide web site has a capsule history of the company which is informative.
submitted by: Steve Lee
The Mississippi and Rum River Boom Co.
Location: River Mile 859.70 - On Both Banks
At about Lyndale and 56th North was an operation area of the Mississippi & Rum River Boom Company.
Northern Minnesota loggers cut trees and floated logs down the tributaries and the Mississippi to the sawmills at St. Anthony (Minneapolis). Of course logs of the different logging companies got all mixed together. Each log was stamped on its ends with the company's brand.
The St. Anthony Boom Company and the Mississippi Boom Company were chartered to sort logs into the correct "booms" for the various companies.
A boom is a string of chained logs that channel and corral floating logs. The companies received 40-50 cents per thousand logs sorted.
These two companies merged into the Mississippi and Rum River Boom Company in 1856. Their operations extended up the river to Monticello.
Another photo of the J.B. Bassett. The rig on the front of the boat looks like it might be a pile driver to pound wharf pilings into the river bed etc.
Cover art for a 2008 Spanish language adaptation of "Las aventuras de Tom Sawyer," the ninth and last of a series of abridged literary classics for children published by La Galera in Barcelona, Spain as the 9th and last in their "pequeños universales" series.
Mark Twain's novel was adapted to 36 pages by Xosé A. Neira Cruz with 18 illustrations (including the cover) by Javier Andrada. Amazon.com
I recognized the source material that Javier Andrada referred to when painting this illustration and include the 2 photos:
They were from the 1973 musical film adaptation of TOM SAWYER with Jeff East (left) as Huck Finn and Johnny Whitaker (right) as Tom Sawyer. The steamboat was the JULIA BELLE SWAIN, was renamed the "River Queen" for the movie.
Floating Opera and Towboat Troubadour, print purchased from A. A. Miran Arts and Books. Their description below.
PRICE'S FLOATING OPERA
Showboat and Towboat Troubadour
Heavy-weight gray card with ornamental dark gray rules - measures 12.5 x 11.75" (horizontal mount). Blank back. Glossy b/w photo with sepia tones - measures 9.5 x 7.5".
This photo was remounted in the distant past. It was originally on a thin card, which was trimmed, and the card and photo remounted on a thicker card. The thicker card is quite old too, so the remounting was probably done in the early to mid 20th century. The entire photo is backed by the original card except for a small area at the extreme bottom right corner. We supplied a close-up photo of this corner so you can see that there is just a small piece of the original card chipped away there - and that the corner of the photo is intact.
This river barge ("show boat") operated from c. 1889 until it apparently sank in a storm in 1900. It was a traveling venue for entertainment, first for Eisenbarth's Combined Wild West and Opera and then Price's Floating Opera. The barge apparently had more than one tow boat in its lifetime. Here is a handsome double-decker steamer, and the the name can be made out as ADOUR - but actually the initial letters are obscured by the stacks and other elements - the tow was named Troubadour.
It is said that the entertainers lived on the tow boat and entertained on the barge. This outfit operated on the Kentucky River, the Ohio River and tributaries, and perhaps other places as well. But this barge was to our knowledge mostly often associated with the Kentucky River, and that is a likely locale for this photo. The barge was said to have been equipped with a fine steam calliope, music from which could be heard at quite a distance although here the calliope is on the top deck of the towboat.
It was also said to be gaily painted - and in the portside profile here circular illustrations appear on the showboat The scenes appear to us to be probably sights along the river. The largest one at the top left shows a large building up on a rise with two impressive turrets - historians may be able to identify it (the second-to-last image we have supplied shows this). Another circle shows what appears to us to be a canal or lock. Yet another shows a long, low vessel in a river. More could probably be told with very careful examination.
At the time of this photo, the proprietor E. A. Price apparently operated out of New Martinsville. (Note: Price had a string of bad luck. Besides losing his barge, he was also injured in a July 4, 1901 train wreck near Charleston, WV on the Kanawha and Michigan RR, where there were numerous fatalities, and newspaper accounts said he was bruised and suffered "nervous shock".)
Floating venues like this one provided welcome entertainment to people in relatively isolated areas through the 19th century and into the early 20th century - in fact Billy Bryant's showboat Princess worked the rivers into the 1930s."Show boats" had a fond place in the popular culture and imagination. This show barge was in a class with The Majestic, Captain Hart's Showboat, and others of the same general era that plied the rivers.
This view shows well over a dozen men and women on the barge, some evidently workers and some probably passengers or performers. The focus and contrast are quite good, so a surprising amount of detail can be seen with a hand lens of the people on the barge - their expressions and garments. It must have been a fairly cool day when this photograph was taken because the people have jacket and coats and there are no leaves on the tree in the right area.
Some corny kitsch from 1958 . . . cover of the July issue of the pulp periodical WESTERN ROMANCES.
The cover painting of the brawny cowboy holding the "young filly" wearing modern "pumps" instead of the high button shoes which would have been worn in the Old West does not seem to illustrate any of the stories in this particular issue.
Immigrants who have just disembarked from the steamboat, perhaps somewhere along the Missouri River, must hope to establish homesteads on the frontier.
The cover served as part of the depiction of the nostalgic fantasy of Western life as a young girl of the 1950's girl would have imagined it to be, consistent with the genre of the short stories.
John Stobart's 2002 painting of KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE entitled "The 'City of Knoxville' arriving from Chattanooga in 1891"
The image area seen here is 18 x 28 1/2 inches.
Fred Way's Packet Directory lists 3 sternwheel steamboats who were named City of Knoxville, but no steamboat named City of Knoxville operating in 1891.
The first C of K's dates were 1854 to 1858; the second boat's dates were from 1875 to 1883; and the third boat's dates were from 1896 to 1901
Perhaps there was a 4th boat by that name that did operate in 1891 that is not listed in Way's Directory.
The J. Russell Jinishian Gallery, Inc. of Fairfield, Connecticut has the original painting listed at $250,000 http://www.jrusselljinishiangallery.com/pages/stobart-pages/stobartimage-knoxville.htm
Steamboat pilot house illustration for a story in the pulp magazine MAMMOTH ADVENTURE, May 1947. Sunken steamer in the distance on the river behind the pilot at the wheel.
Detail from a print of the painting NEW ORLEANS by ROY CROSS copyrighted in the United Kingdom by Felix Rosentiel's Widow & Sons Limited 1993. The steamboat PACIFIC (1857-1860) predominates in the right two thirds of the painting.
KATE ADAMS in the Fall of 1926 bearing her own name and the fictional name LA BELLE RIVIERE that she was given from Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel UNCLE TOM's CABIN when it was filmed on the Ouachita and Black rivers.
Have determined that the sternwheeler on the far right was almost certainly the towboat JEWEL (1902 - 1934).
Nice artist's rendering of the 110 foot long steamboat AMERICAN on the "Great Lakes" at "Freedomland, U.S.A." - the short lived (1960-64) Bronx, New York theme park that attempted to approximate Disneyland on the East Coast. The AMERICAN also had an identical sister boat at Freedomland called the CANADIAN which for a while floated on a mill pond as part of Raymond Schmitt's "Johnsonville," a collection of historic 19th century buildings at East Haddam, Connecticut. The current whereabouts of the AMERICAN and the CANADIAN are unknown.
Two nice photos of the steamboat AMERICAN at Freedomland U.S.A. can be seen at this theme park blog: http://gorillasdontblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/freedomland-july-1962-part-dos.html
Attached Page 90 from ENGINEER Journal, August 5th, 1870 containing a detailed drawing of a STEAM SCRAPER ON THE MISSISSIPPI. On page 96 of the same issue was an engraving entitled DREDGING ON THE MISSISSIPPI, LONG'S APPARATUS. The engraving was based on the attached photograph in the Murphy Library collection of the Packet/Snagboat, MONTANA (1864-1879) taken by W.B. Illingworth, W. B. in 1870 at St. Paul, Minnesota
Below are Jim Hale's comments on the drawing and the photograph:
THE STEAM SCRAPER MUST HAVE BEEN USED TO DIG A TRENCH THROUGH SAND BARS. WOULD PROBABLY TAKE SEVERAL PASSES THROUGH THE BAR TO GET IT WIDE ENOUGH FOR A BOAT TO PASS THROUGH THE CUT. I LOVE THESE OLD DRAFTSMAN DRAWINGS. YOU DON'T SEE WORK LIKE THIS ANY MORE.
WHO WOULD HAVE EVER THOUGHT THAT AN ACTUAL PHOTO OF THE CONTRAPTION COULD BE FOUND. NO DOUBT THAT THE DRAWING ON PAGE 96 OF THE ENGINEER JOURNAL IS BASED ON THIS SAME MACHINERY. THE THING IS SO SIMPLE I AM SURPRISED IT WAS NOT THOUGHT OF EARLIER.
Waybill from a dealer in the UK for a June, 1874 Evansville wharf-boat outfit that I bought primarily for the unique engraved vignette. Looks like there were 2 emblematic/decorative stacks attached to the far side the roof of the wharf-boat itself. Those superfluous stacks were distracting at first and it took me a while to figure out why they might have been there. The artist may have based the engraving on a photograph, but if so I couldn't find it the Murphy collection. The letters "QU" are on the pennant of the 2nd boat from the left. Could have stood for QUEEN or QUINCY. Also included in the auction were 2 waybills from April of '72 and April of '74 for the steamboat BERMUDA, whose name is on the wharf-boat waybill.
Detail - vignette from 1874 waybill (above) issued by J.E. Rankin & Co. Wharf-Boat Proprietors, Forwarding & Commission Merchants and General Steamboat Agents of Evansville, Indiana. Engraver may have based this on a photograph.