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Bob Reynolds 02-24-2009 04:09 PM

Towing company "junk" fleets
Rather than add to Ted's posts about the LUNGA POINT, I decided to start a new thread about junky fleets up and down the river. The Banta family has at Plaquemine, LA a number of old vessels that are seemingly beyond repair, and in fact even when running had the reputation for being "junk". "Peanut" Hollinger also had/has a fleet at Alton, IL (known as American Boat Co.), that has a large collection of derelict towboats and a COE steam dredge. While the vessels at Bisso Towboat Co. at Six Mile Point in New Orleans are operational and in better shape than the aforementioned fleets, it is locally known as "Bisso's Junkyard" or facetiously as "Bisso's Yacht Club". There have been others, one at Madison Indiana owned by Bennett's, and one in McKellar Lake at Memphis owned by Henry Ellis. Anyone care to add to the list?

Bill Judd 02-25-2009 08:31 AM

Good old junk fleets, what better place to spend hours, exploring and thinking of days gone bye. When I was just a kid they were called boat "graveyards or boneyards". I used to drive, as a teenager, to Pittsburgh to explore the greatest of these, the infamous Zubik fleet. On my first trip I talked to "old man" Zubik and explained my love of boats, any boats old , new or junk. I guess he felt sorry for a boat crazed kid and gave me the run of the place. I made trips up for many years till the idiots at Pittsburgh ran Zubik out so they could build the new stadiums. What a loss!!

Now Capt. Bob refers to the Alton fleet, well let me tell you what a find. I was attending a industry conference near St. Louis Airport and someone said I should see the new bridge at Alton, so over I went. The heck with the bridge when I saw American boat fleet. I drove into the lot, introduced myself, signed a waiver and wandered to my hearts content. My wife sat in car and knitted and I was as happy as a sheep eating thistles. Forty years since Zubik and I felt like a kid again. I love "junk fleets".

Keith Norrington 02-25-2009 08:46 AM

Seems that a long ago issue of the [I]S&D REFLECTOR [/I] contained a photo spread on the Zubik "Junk Fleet" and Capt. Fred mentioned all the great "steamboat stuff" like whistles, bells, lanterns, etc., lying about everywhere. The late Dorothea Frye told me that in 1966 (when she ran the gift shop on the DQ) she and Roddy Hammett, who then was assistant purser, explored the Zubik menagerie, sometimes crawling over fantails and through former pitman holes to get to the next boat! Dorothea was fascinated by the fact that there were some shantyboaters back amongst the "dead boats" and she even recalled the aroma of what they were cooking!

Shipyard Sam 02-25-2009 09:45 AM

What about the [B]Bob Bosworth[/B] collection near Point Pleasant? Is it still afloat? When I was "Assistant to the Art Director" for the TV special, CENTENNIAL, the Art Direstor and I rummaged through that fleet and came-near buying the DUNCAN BRUCE for the production that I would receive after the filming. However, fate interveined and the AD was fired for "spending too much money" and both my Hollywood career and ownership of the [I]Drunken Duncan [/I] slid down the tube.

There are countless small boat fleets all over the rivers that I enjoy, too. [B]Adams Boatyard[/B] above Madison, IN at Brooksburg has a fine collection of mouldering houseboats, and the USCG Tender SYCAMORE also reposes in the Adams yard.

Steve Huffman 02-25-2009 10:32 AM

The Zachary Taylor II is also at Adams Marina. His junkyard leans more toward classic wooden hull cruisers and old houseboats, but not so many steel workboats. My dad was looking for some aluminum houseboat railings for his sternwheel houseboat retirement project. He looked at a few of Adams junk houseboats and offered to pay top dollar for railings, but we found that Adams won't part with any of their junk.

I discovered a similar thing when I tried to buy used spud pipe from Bennett's Marina (just down the road from Adams Marina). He wouldn't part with any of his junk either, even for cash. He said he "might need that spud pipe", even though he is in the process of closing his river terminal. Maybe I stopped by on a "bad day"..

Shipyard Sam 02-25-2009 05:33 PM

Adams Boneyard Pics
Heres's a link to some Adams boatyard pictures.

[url=]Willie and Buster's Whirlwind Tour of the World - Shipyard Shots[/url]

R. Dale Flick 02-25-2009 06:15 PM

*RE: 'Junk fleets & river ghosts.'*
Hi, Bill & steamboatong colleagues:
Great topic for sure and you got me to 'digging' here. I've some dandy B/W photos of Zubic's 'junk fleet' showing a number of wrecks--or nearly so. I'm dumb as mud about posting photos directly to the web site but will attempt to again. I've uncovered some most interesting photos.

I'm sure, Bill, you recall seeing the hulk of the 1939 Howard built Wm. B. BROKAMP, diesel sternwheel: 44 X 14 X 3.8 ft. when she was junked up on the bank just east of CONEY ISLAND/RIVERS DOWNS here near the foot of Eight Mile Rd. [Or thereabouts]. She was a cute thing and caught my fancy as a kid, but as time passed--and I moved on to other things--I never knew what became of her. I dreamed in misty clouds of youth what it would have been like to restore her bright and pristine to run again.

Well, what do I know?

Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River.

Bob Reynolds 02-25-2009 06:53 PM

Another one that I had forgotten was Capt. John Beatty's fleet at Warsaw, KY. Not so much in the way of junk boats, but he sure did have some treasures out on the bank. I know Shipyard Sam has looked through that collection more than once.

Shipyard Sam 02-25-2009 08:43 PM

Cap'n John Beatty had his share of stuff ashore, floating on the water, and resting on the bottom beneath the waves. Instead of fooling with a barge, he would sink it and raise it when he needed it. There may still be sinkers underwater around Yankee Landing. I'd be careful getting in too close.

His twin minesweepers were always interesting to root 'round on. Full of fascinating sights to ponder inside the cavernous hulks, and with tons of stuff tossed around on-deck that would excite anyone interested in things mechanical. John didn't toss too much stuff over the side- only a few tons ever so often.

The USCE Steam Tug, the GORHAM, (is that name right, Cap'n Bill?) was fun to explore when he had it in the fleet. There was also the steam crane, BIG JOHN, and the diesel-electric crane AJAX. The towboat BEN FRANKLIN usually assisted his flagship CLARE E. BEATTY (SEMET); both interesting places of exploration on their own. I was aboard the SEMET when he towed the little CLARE somewhere up around Ashland to become a sand & gravel towboat.

When my brothers and I were swimming in the Licking River every summer day of our youth, we anticipated the passing of the CLEM BEATTY, a small, but powerful towboat, we called the "Mighty Mouse". It threw huge waves as it plowed the Licking, and generated great thrills for small boys frolicking in the artificial surf.

Bill Judd 02-25-2009 09:27 PM

Hey Shipyard, the steam tug was the Gorman. It in now at the marina just under the Bromley, Ky. BP oil dock. The little CLARE E. BEATTY went to the Epling Gravel Co. at Gallipolis, Oh. Still very active towing on the Kanawha under the name DREW SCOTT. The mighty CLEM BEATTY, all of 300 h.p. was probably passing you boys going to or from Ashland-Latonia. Possibly I was between the sticks. She went to Wooten's as the ELINOR W. That boat is like the Energizer bunny, our good friend Capt. David Smith is completely re-building her like new at Cattletsburg, Ky.

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