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Old 04-03-2011, 12:22 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: I presenbtly live in Covington , LA.
Posts: 673
Default Steamboats & Telegraphs

Greetings From New Orleans !
I would have to imagine that one of the more prominent features and pieces of useful equipment that use to adorn any respectable and authentic steamboat was the Engine Order Telegraph that was found in both the Pilot House and Engine Room .
When I first went to work on the Str. Delta Queen , back in the early 70's , one of my most enjoyable responsibilities was to clean the Pilot House and to polish both the DQ's brass Telegraph and Spitoon ! Even back then , I use to look forward to this task of polishing the Telegraph and could only imagine what stories this beautiful piece of form and function could tell ! One other perk and benefit of this highly sought after and esteemed position of Pilot House , brass polisher was to just take in and listen to all the stories , lies and other related tales from the highly distinguished and honorable Pilots , Masters , Mates and other non descript deck officiers that would hold court in the DQ's , Pilot House !
All these great Pilot House memories from those early days on the steamboats were recently brought back to life when I was in a rather unlikely place , a St. Augustine , Fla. , nautical antique store a few weeks ago ! Sitting in the front window of the store , was an old and tarnished Engine Order Telegraph that I simply could not take my eyes off of ! No , it did not come off of a conventional Western Rivers , steamboat but it did come off of an old Victory Ship that was built on the east coast and was partly responsible for winning the war in Europe .
I guess the years have not been too kind to this old Engine Order Telegraph , but haivng said that , its bells still ring when you " ring it up " and there is still a working light oo the inside to illuminate its faces . What I do find unusual about this Engine Order Telegraph , is that there is a rather unusual fixture and opening on the top of this Telegraph . I am just guessing that possibly this particular Telegraph was either located in the Engine Room or in a lower Pilot House or Bridge deck and that chains came out of the top and went up to an above deck station .
Hopfully some one that is a bit more familiar with this type of Enginbe Order Telegraph could shed some light on this feature but this is my best guess as to the purpose of this fixture and opening .
Now , every time I go in my office and see this piece of history I also see Capt. " Rip " Ware and Capt. Wagner doing their very best to out do one another with a story from their past as well ! Just imagine what stories that Engine Order Telegraph could tell !
Smooth Sailing !
Ted Davisson
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