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Thread: Farewell MIKE FINK

  1. #11
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    Apr 2006
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    On the "Beautiful Ohio" at New Albany, Indiana, opposite Louisville, Kentucky
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    Default Karl Smith's River Photography

    Dale: Perhaps you are referring to some other images, but I do recall some fabulous (and terrifying) pictures of the ISLAND QUEEN ablaze, shared at the MOR dinner meeting aboard the MIKE FINK in 1977 by Mr. Karl Smith. He was a photographer par excellence and had earlier shown those duplicated slides at the 1972 S&D meeting. Now long deceased, I am not positive, but thought his collection went to the Cincinnati Historical Society.

    I corresponded and exchanged Christmas cards with Karl Smith for some years and he sent me some of his excellent river pictures, including a dramatic scene of the GORDON C. GREENE in the snow. Another was of the steam towboat RENOWN (later the wharfboat for the BELLE of LOUISVILLE) passing the ISLAND QUEEN in the Cincinnati harbor. Several of these are prime candidates for my Old Boat Column in The Waterways Journal!

  2. #12
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    May 2006
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    Default

    *ISLAND QUEEN explosion pictures, 1947*
    Steamboating colleagues:
    Keith is on the money RE: those incredible 35 mm. color slides taken when the last ISLAND QUEEN exploded in Pittburgh, Sept. 1947 viewed years ago at a big MOR dinner program on the MIKE FINK. Karl Smith obtained the pictures from a man who was there that day with a camera in hand. Karl and his wife lived down the road from me here on Sutton Ave. near CONEY ISLAND. When the new highway extension came through their house was sold and demolished. I lost track of them and am certain now they are long gone. More than a few people showed interest in those photos. Karl would never allow them to be copied. Rick Kesterman is on staff at the Cincinnati Historical Library and I'll inquire about the slides next Monday at club. I'm sure those shots taken would possibly today win a photo journalism award if not a Pulitzer prize in photography.

    Another irony was that at the same instant veteran calliope player, Homer Denney, was off the boat touring Pittusburgh when he aimed his own B/W camera from atop the incline on Mt. Washington across the river just as the IQ exploded. His series pictures received wide exposure in Cincinnati and other newspapers around the country.

    That September 1947 into 1948, the DELTA QUEEN was undergoing remodeling/renovation on the nearby ways at DRAVO. 'Overtures' were dangled to Capt. Tom Greene to, perhaps, sell the DQ for possible conversion as a replacement for the ISLAND QUEEN. For various reasons, the plan died aborning with the DQ being finished for service. Again, the DQ survived with another of her nine lives. Ed Schott, CONEY ISLAND head honcho, by then "had his fill" of any plans for a new CONEY excursion boat and backed off. Times were changing after World War II with the increasing family autos, city suburbs expanding, fleets of Cincinati Transit buses now serving the park, declining ridership on the ISLAND QUEEN impacting the bottom line on the CONEY finance books. All the rest, as they say, is history.

    In later years I heard GL Purser Bob Mcann, pilot/captain Jesse P. Hughes talk about the problems the IQ had with vapors from nearby oil bunkers filling the compatment where the explosion, ingnited by the welder spark above repairing a railing stancion, set the chain reaction of explosions when the powerful vapors were hit with sparks. My neighbor here on Burney Lane was Sue Pattison-Hoebel, daughter of Capt. Ben I Pattison. Sue repeated nearly the same story. She gave me many items and ephemera from the ISLAND QUEEN from her father. Capt. Ben not only worked for GREENE LINE but also on the ISLAND QUEEN. He was a member of the Coast Guard and also a then officer in the Steamboat Inspection Service.

    As long as I live, I'll never forget those trips on the ISLAND QUEEN from the foot of Broadway and back with my family. At night she would steam up and down passing Coal Haven Landing and St. Rose Catholic church on Eastern Ave. with her lights glistening on the dark water like a thousand diamonds. That was a long time ago. Well, what do I know?

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

  3. #13

    Default

    Chief Engineer Fred Dickow was welding a stationary on the main deck right above an empty fuel tank when he accidently cut into the fume filled tank, and that was all she wrote. Dickow's remains were found two days later in the river. Dad more than once stated that oil fumes are much more volatile than the oil itself.

    A few years ago "Doc" Hawley, Vic Canfield and myself were on a tour of Cincinnati cemeteries to look at river related graves. We searched out the final resting place of Fred Dickow in Cincinnati's Vine Street Hill Cemetery, and all gathered lowered their heads in a silent prayer above the Dickow plot.

  4. #14
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    Rabbit Hash, KY and Decatur, Al Shipyards
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    Default

    That's great news... watch for an upcoming re-opening of the MIKE FINK, soon, on the Newport side where all the excitement is.

  5. #15
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    May 2006
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    Default

    *Fred Dickow/IQ in December, 2013 REFLECTOR*
    Steamboating colleagues:
    Frank Prudent's memories of the last ISLAND QUEEN and her Chief Engineer Fred Dickow carries the above discussions forward more. David Tschiggfrie, editor of the S&D REFLECTOR, did a full photo essay in the September, 2013 edition titled 'More Views of the ISLAND QUEEN,' Pgs. 39-43 with related comments by John Fryant. Fred Dickow was Chief on the IQ the entire time she ran and, "...helped install her engines and machinery." Pg. 39 shows Fred Dickow and steamboat boiler inspector Harry Fletcher inspecting the IQ's boilers with a 'picture worth a 1,000 words.'

    Frank's late dad, Bill Prudent, knew better than most the explosive nature of oil fumes being "...more volatile than the oil itself." This true for other chemicals and substances once mixed with oxygen. Old time lumber and flower mills, paint and varnish works were often prone to massive explosions with one spark igniting all those molecular particles.

    When the sister steamboats AMERICA & UNITED STATES met in a disastrous collision, Dec. 4, 1868 above Warsaw, KY., the ensuing insurance case engendered a vigorous debate on whether the loss "was by fire or collision." Casks of spirits and other vaporous items added to the fire when the boats struck. The original papers on that case I have here concluded that the collision resulted in sparks which caused the fire; thus "loss by fire only." The then U.S. MAIL LINE had reduced their insurance coverage on fire loss claiming the issue was "loss by collision"--which they did have coverage for. It became a legal debate until experts were solicited for their expertise. "Collision or not, you can't have a fire without a spark," ended the paragraph. Then they debated on just what constituted a "spark?" Well, what do I know?

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

  6. #16
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    Paragould, AR or on m/v MAGNOLIA
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    Default

    Dale and Frank: All the above very true. And while we all bemoan the fact that the "government" intrudes into our lives, it's stuff like this that starts it and makes me glad they do. Government-mandated safety laws are intended to and do prevent accidents such as this. On any vessel nowadays, no one would dream of doing any welding without a gas-free certificate from a Marine Chemist. Any and all licensed personnel know this and in fact are tested on it as part of the licensing process. While shipyards, marine chemists, welders, etc. are expensive, I bet getting that gas free certificate and having a professional welder do that work would have looked like the biggest bargain in the world in hindsight to the owners and operators of the ISLAND QUEEN.

  7. #17

    Default Another Question

    Quote from Dale: In later years I heard GL Purser Bob Mcann, pilot/captain Jesse P. Hughes talk about the problems the IQ had with vapors from nearby oil bunkers filling the compatment where the explosion, ingnited by the welder spark above repairing a railing stancion, set the chain reaction of explosions when the powerful vapors were hit with sparks. My neighbor here on Burney Lane was Sue Pattison-Hoebel, daughter of Capt. Ben I Pattison. Sue repeated nearly the same story.

    This begs the question: Did anyone ever mention fuel fumes on the President? Did she burn bunker C while under steam, as I presume did the IQ?

  8. #18
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    *Things were different back in 1947*
    Hi, to both Lexie and Bob,
    Bob offers great information from his professional experience and view. Things were possibly a tad different in 1947 compared to 2013. Capt. Bill Judd could possibly also offer more insights from his own experience. I do know that the present big 'blue water ships' have one or more technicians/engineers in their departments dealing with fuel fumes or fumes from cargo. The U.S. Navy also follows these guide lines.

    We live in a world of "what if's...possibly...could...perhaps...should have known," in hindsight. Who knows? The ISLAND QUEEN disaster was, possbily, a case of 'time and place, set and setting.' When the steamboat MOSELLE exploded her boilers with a tragic loss of life near Fulton in Cincinnati, April 25, 1838, a commetary was penned in newspapers of the day. One comment that has stuck in my mind was, "Oh, that instant!" The 'circumstances' with the MOSELLE was the result of men.

    Benjamin Disraeli, England's Prime Minister during the Victorian era, wrote a fine commentary I think fits many situations similar to the ISLAND QUEEN, TITANIC, HINDENBURG, ANDREA DORIA--possibly Pearl Harbor, 1941. "Man is not the victim of circumstances. Circumstances are the 'result' of men." In this case "man and men" refering to the human species. Well, again, what do I know?

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

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