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Thread: Howard Steamboat Museum Chautauqua

  1. #1
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    Default Howard Steamboat Museum Chautauqua

    Probably due to better advertising, high gasoline prices keeping people closer to home and fabulous weather, the 15th annual spring festival at the Howard Steamboat Museum was a BIG success! Gate admissions on Saturday were 1500+ persons, with 632 people touring the mansion. Some people, who come just for the craft booths and entertainment, skip the house. Sunday was also very well attended, but I haven't heard the final count yet. Many thanks to Judy Patsch (a LIFE member of the museum) who came over from Rock Island for both days of the festival and ably handled the third floor tours. Jo Ann Schoen was the front gatekeeper all day on Sunday and her assistance is also much appreciated.

    I was "on deck" as usual in the second floor steamboat exhibits. It is always fun to meet and greet the interesting variety of visitors who come through the museum, which this year even included my old second grade teacher! And it is always special when "river people" come calling. I enjoyed all too brief visits with Capt. Don Sanders, Tom Schiffer, Travis Vasconcelos, David and Jonathan Tschiggfrie, Capt. Alan Bates, Kadie Engstrom, Danny & Sue Back and Kenny & Ginger Howe. Ted Guillaum again provided lilting melodies as our organ grinder and, when I went outside to get some lunch, he had a large "congregation" joining in singing "Meet Me in St. Louis"! Bela Berty, in period costume, portrayed Nicholas Roosevelt, twice, as part of the performances under the big tent.

    THANKS to ALL who assisted in great and small ways and to those who attended! This is the museum's largest fundraiser of the year and greatly helps to keep the doors open. It hardly seems possible, but next year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the museum!!! Programs and special events are already in the works, so stay tuned!
    Last edited by Keith Norrington; 05-21-2007 at 01:12 PM.

  2. #2
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    I just got home from the Howard weekend. It was my first time at the Chautauqua, and it was very interesting and busy. The volunteer head asked Keith if I'd move to another post, since I was probably bored up on the third floor. I have no idea why she'd think I'd be bored, with a steady stream of people up there both days. As Keith said, there were many interesting people who attended and made themselves known, such as two coworkers of Ed Howard, who had no idea he came from such an affluent family; a lady who as a kid used to pose outside the gate in the early 50s and pretend that was her house - she said they knew someone lived in there, but never saw her; a woman who was comparing the Howard house to hers because she thinks brothers built them(her house down the street is known as the Hooters House, she didn't explain why and I didn't ask); and the many many locals who toured in amazement as it was their first time ever in the mansion. I certainly learned a lot during the weekend about both the Howard family and the house. Two nights of meals at Kingfish have blown my calorie count for a while, and the chocolate cake which Keith's parents provided at my hotel suite after the festivities was delicious too. It was a nice, but too short gathering with the Tschiggfries, Norringtons, JoAnn Schoen, Travis, and Alan Bates. On Saturday evening I was sitting by my open window going through an old steamboat scrapbook when I heard the Belle's whistle - I grabbed my jacket and camera and hustled the two blocks to the riverfront to see her ablaze in lights heading upriver on what must have been a charter, since she had no public cruises scheduled. That was certainly lagniappe for the great weekend. The next Howard gathering will be late August for the Showboat presentation by Pat Carr...

  3. #3
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    Pat Carr's program on showboating, Footlights Afloat, is scheduled for Saturday, August 25th at 3:00 PM EDT. Indeed, the stream of visitors through the museum is always interesting! We surely missed having Pete Sisak with us, who had to remain "moored" in Wisconsin due to business. And a HAPPY BIRTHDAY to him today!!!!!!!!

  4. #4
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    It was, as usual, a good time at the Howard Museum. The 1937 Flood theme was well done with the presentations in the Mansion Library. In the Carriage House, one of the exhibitors told me that launches similar to my MISSIE were made at Howard yards. Further, that Cummins in Columbus was a friend of the Howards and made diesel engines for same. The engines in the back corner of the Carriage House were made by Howard (so marked) and are of the correct size for launches and too small for the bigger boats. I have looked in vain in the Paddle Wheels and Propellers book and have found no reference to either launches, small gasoline engines or Cummins but mebbe I missed it. Steam launches were common in the last half of the 19th century and someone had to make them locally...if not Howard, who?

  5. #5
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    Steamboating colleagues:
    Thanks to Keith, Judy and Tom for the fine description of the past weekend Chautuqua at the Howard Museum. I pouted and whined around here most of last week and through the weekend with a case of the flu and missed all.

    Tom's comments/questions Re: 'Cummins' and steam launches last half of the 19th century got me to thinking and digging. The late Jim Howard was known for years for his infatuation with high speed motor boats in the Louisville area. He was written about, along with cartoons, and pictured aboard one of his fast boats tearing up the river with fish flying in all directions. I'll have to dig out those articles and pictures here in time.

    Fred Way descrbes the incredible sidewheel JAMES HOWARD in his PACKET DIRECTORY Entry No. 2930 Pg. 240 containing a fascinating 'bio' of this great boat built by Howards in 1870 for $180,000...no small chunk of change in those days. Another period newspaper account 'attributed' to Will S. Hayes [Possibly] mentions the famed steam launch built for the JAMES HOWARD known as the LITTLE JIM. Fred's bio in the PACKET DIRECTORY doesn't mention it. Here is the except on the launch:

    "LITTLE JIM: A beautiful steam launch, or yawl, which will accompany the HOWARD on her trips. The LITTLE JIM is 32 ft. long, 8 & 1/2 ft. beam. She will be propelled by steam, having cylinders 6 inches in diameter, 10 inches stroke, and will be for sounding channels, laying anchors, etc., and may be used for many other purposes as well. The LITTLE JIM is a jaunty craft, and will attract attention. The JAMES HOWARD is a splendid triumph of steamboat architectural skill."

    Like Tom, I've found no other references in Fishbaugh's book on the Howards mentioning such craft. Alan Bates, and others, may have additional insights on this along with the LITTLE JIM. If the launch was built by Howards, or supplied outside of their yards, I can find no reference at this time.

    It 'seems' I head along the path in the past the LITTLE JIM didn't serve on the huge JAMES HOWARD long; and this comes as no surprise. Such a launch/yawl probably in short time proved more bother and logistics than dropping a conventional yawl over with crew to row. Getting the steam launch swung out, rigged and steam raised was no small matter of time and attention. It no doubt cost money to run and human labor was cheap in those days. I've looked at a few period photos of the JAMES HOWARD but, so far, see no evidence of this unique craft on deck or swung out at the stern as were many yawls over the years. Where could she have been stowed? On the lower deck, at the stern etc?

    Does any poster in the know have any such photos or more information on the fate of the LITTLE JIM? The dedicated crew at the Howard Museum may know some of the mystery.

    Cheers,
    R. Dale Flick

  6. #6
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    Pat gave us a preview of her program, with Travis' help, on the DQ homecoming trip a couple of weeks ago. Her afternoon slide presentation and talk was very well attended by the passengers, including the usual river rat bunch, and was enthusiastically received by everybody. Lots of laughter along with the enlightenment and entertainment. And we only got part of it. She's saving the rest for the Howard Museum presentation. You're gonna love it, folks!

  7. #7
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    Pat gave Cap'n Walnut a disc with photos from the slide presentation last year. Lil, I agree that it will be a fine presentation.

  8. #8
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    Thank you Lil and Tom for that glowing preview of our upcoming Footlights Afloat program! You're great "advance agents", just like those of yesteryear who went ahead of the showboat to put up posters and distribute handbills! Travis will again be providing his very able assistance for this event and I think we might have a few other surprises in store too! The curtain goes up at 3:00 PM (EDT) on Saturday, August 25th. This scheduling enables those who wish to take in the afternoon cruise on the Str. BELLE OF LOUISVILLE which departs at noon and returns at 2:00 PM, allowing plenty of time to drive over to the museum. And, yes, Judy Patsch will be "on decK" at the museum with a cargo of cookies! Y'all come!
    Last edited by Keith Norrington; 05-24-2007 at 10:59 AM.

  9. #9
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    Thanks, Dale, for the interesting info on LITTLE JIM steam launch. I agree that the logistics inherent in a steam launch...mainly the delay in fire-up...would put a big spike in the usefulness of any launch aboard a steamboat. It appears that LITTLE JIM was intended as a working launch aboard the larger boat. Steamboats and steam launches have been built for both pleasure and for work. Examples of both being put into service for the other purpose are found in the literature. The only "work" MISSIE ever did was to carry cases of Barbara Huffman's book to the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE during the trip to the 2003 Tall Stacks at Vevey, Ind and cases of Alan Bates' books back to the BARBARA H in return. Small, light draft steamers were just the thing for duck hunters and hunters of rare places to fish the waters in shallow sloughs etc. There are still engines to be found from fast pinnaces which were used to lighter crew etc ashore from large ships. Builders of fast pinnaces also built gunboats in that time frame. MISSIE is quite sedate in her meanders but she's been many places where the big steamers can't go; seen lotsa wildlife that is out of reach of the larger boats except with a good glass in a steady hand. There are numerous steam powered launches in the US and abroad, but I have seen none around where MISSIE lurks. While the sedate pace of MISSIE is attractive to many, others have always been attracted by the muse of speed. Evidently, the Howards were such and the four-cylinder gas engine seen in the carriage house bears mute testimony to that as well as having the Howard name thereon.

  10. #10
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    Yes, Pete, we did have a great, but exhausting, weekend. But it's for a good cause and we all do it as a labor of love. The festival is always the third weekend of May (close to our birthdays!) so please put it on your calendar and plan to join us for the 2008 festival. You are ALWAYS welcome and we hope to see you then, if not before!

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