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Old 06-09-2013, 12:05 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,570

*The skylight mystery deepens*
Hi, Travis, Jim & Steamboating colleagues:
Great pictures, Travis, and thanks for posting. What happened between the original construction plans and the end result with the DELTA boats DK/DQ a good question. And I don't know all the answers. Those with direct living memories even to 1947/1948 are quickly diminishing. Alan Bates often quipped, "Many a slip between the pen and the ship." I too often thought the forward skylight either was never completed or later blocked out. Consult Pgs. 57 and 83 of 'The Saga of the DELTA QUEEN' to see what 'could' be the housings for the skylights on the roof. I do know the U.S. Navy did tarp over the top housings during the war for tell-tale lights during W.W. II blackouts. How many here old enough to recall those W.W. II blackouts in the neighborhood of your own home town? So much of the earliest history of the DK/DQ were unknown prior to 1947 until Stan Garvey and John Burns traveled here to attend S&D's September meeting. Stan's book a refreshing look at the whole story. They were welcomed with no small amount of curiosity and trepidation. Not everything about the "big cast iron monster" the DQ happened just after 1947.

The brief, terse mention of the skylight costs in the Burns papers here indicate that C.T. Co. head honcho Capt. Anderson had gulped when he saw the bill for design, creation, installation of the domes--at least two we know of here. Anderson ran a tight ship with one big company fleet, shipyard and at times 1,200 employees then and would quibble over a mere four cent increase in wood for flooring in his several huge freight warehouses. Any surviving passengers, no matter how young then, who traveled on the DK/DQ in their night boat years or as adults are becoming as rare as our current death rate of W.W. II veterans. I'd concur with Jim Reising on the new thread that if GL Purser Bob McCann recalled "two skylights" then two it was. No doubt our speculation here could in time be supported by more photos, written records--even a living memory.

In their time the skylights may have been extravagant, but did serve several purposes. On our steamboats built for service back here, the stained glass transom lights in the clerestory of the long main cabin would be similar for light and ventilation. You can bet that today SOLAS, Coast Guard and other regulators wouldn't allow a full, open light shaft up through a vessel as a potential 'flume' for a fire. In many states now laundry chutes from upper floors of a home to the basemement now forbidden under new fire codes. But it's the law.

Prohibition began in many states as early as 1919 and not 1921 as in most. The DK/DQ, as night boats, were also known as 'party boats.' I'm sure many passengers carried on their own cache of liquid refreshments. The aft cabin, called the 'Social Hall,' then had a fine upright piano against one wall, 1920s ratan furnishings, heavy portier drapes at the door to the forward cabin area, potted palms direct from the Rudolph Valentino era. With the piano and socializing, I wonder how many got any real sleep in the cabins? Some night boats on the East coast had the custom of the Master at Arms/Night watchman dimming lights, dampening the revelers. Well, what do I know?

R. Dale Flick
Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati
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