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Old 04-16-2010, 11:30 PM
David Tschiggfrie David Tschiggfrie is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Dubuque, Iowa
Posts: 269


The HURLEY was the first of two identical sternwheel towboats built at Dubuque Boat and Boiler in 1930-31, the other being the JAMES W. GOOD. A third boat, the MARK TWAIN, followed in 1932 from the Howard Shipyard in Jeffersonville. All three were built from the same set of plans, provided by the Inland Waterways Corporation, later known as Federal Barge Line. Their hulls were 160 x 42. These three towboats were built to facilitate moving the increased barge traffic on the Upper Mississippi River following the introduction of four smaller, pioneering sternwheelers built for IWC at the Dubuque yards in 1927-1928: the C. C. WEBBER, S. S. THORPE, JOHN W. WEEKS, and GENERAL ASHBURN (hull size 130 x 35). When the S. S. THORPE sank under the Washington Street Bridge in Minneapolis on May 9, 1938, it was the HURLEY who towed her back to Dubuque for repairs. My two uncles got their first river jobs decking on the HURLEY during the Depression years. One of them went on to get his Mate's license; and the other a Master/Pilot license. He worked for Federal Barge Line and then Twin City Barge Line on the Upper Mississippi until his death in the 70s.

All of these Federal Barge Line sternwheelers wintered in the Ice Harbor at Dubuque. It was quite an impressive line-up to see them all laid up for the winter, side-by-side, as shown in the thumbnail photo below. In that photo you see (from L to R) the HURLEY, GOOD, WEBBER, THORPE, and WEEKS. The location you're looking at was just below the site of the marine ways where they were all built, and where the Iowa Iron Works launched the hull of the giant steamer SPRAGUE in 1902. Today, this site is part of the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium campus. If you would like more information on these steamers, I would suggest two books. Unfortunately, the first one, From Canoe to Steel Barge on the Upper Mississippi by Mildred Hartsough is long, long out of print. The other may be somewhat easier to find: it is called the Geo. M. Verity Story and used to be sold on that boat which now serves as a museum in Keokuk. Your correspondent for this posting was the author of that little booklet. Hope this provides you with some background on these pioneering sternwheelers. Interestingly enough, the year after the HURLEY and GOOD were launched, the Dubuque yards also launched the largest Diesel screw wheel boat of her day, the HERBERT HOOVER. Alan's comment is right on target -- they possessed no grace and charm of any kind, but they did get the job of shoving barges on this shallow, twisting river done well. If you want to see a more classic design for a sternwheel towboat used up here in that period, take a look at the ALEXANDER MACKENZIE.
Attached Thumbnails
Steamer Patrick J. Hurley-fbl-fleet-ice-harbor.jpg  
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