*ROBT. E. LEE's 'Speed Chart is true*
Morning, Steamboating colleagues,
Jerry, you ask a good question RE: "source" for the LEE's time in the celebrated race. Again, and again various 'legends, stories, myths, debates' circulated as to the LEE's true time with conflicts. Basically, when all said and done, her actual speed proved to be the above 3 days, 18 hours and 14 minutes. A few of these conflicting arguments from river people we know endured down to recent years. It made for good written copy, friendly [some times] debates and arguments over dinner tables, meetings. There were also 'questions' as to how the observers on both the LEE & NATCHEZ, on other boats, wharfboats, ashore 'set' or checked their watches of the day in time. Yet, with all said and done, the time in academic written sources still comes out at the above 3-18-24. There are always 'experts' as you know. I pulled books from my library here with, among many, the following that may give you insights. I mentioned in one previous entry above the sources in WAY'S PACKET DIRECTORY. Here are others.

1. 'The Great STEAMBOAT RACE Between the NATCHEZ And The ROBERT E. LEE.' By Roy L. Barkhau. Roy's career and 'bio' needs no repeating here from those of us who knew him. He also wrote a fine account on 'The History of the Eagle Packet Co.'
2. 'SHE TAKES THE HORNS: Steamboat Racing On the Western Waters.' By Capt. Frederic Way, Jr. 1952 by Young & Klein [Now out of business].
3. 'FASTEST ON THE RIVER' by Manly Wade Wellman, Henry Holt & Co., New York, 1957. Probably the most in-depth account of the LEE & NATCHEZ with detailed accounts, history, time charts, information on steamboat business etc. Very academic but readable.
None of the above deviate from the final time chart at: 3-18-14. In those days they had accurate clocks and watches but not down to the microsecond as today with ROLEX and other scientific time pieces running with computers. At this late date, why the controversy and debate beyond general conversation? There will, I guess, always be arguments and debates. I know, in addition to Capt. Fred Way, Jr., others who wrote beyond the above three book sources were Capts. Alan Bates, C.W. Stoll and Jack Custer of Louisville. Well, what do I know? I know I'm no expert and we have to watch out for that term as it can often come back to bite us. I rather prefer the line, "Those with varying levels of familiarity." Hope this helps. CHEERS!

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