*Hero of the big race*
Morning, Steamboating colleagues,
Great historical account, Jim, and I'm eating it up word by word. Fine job. Veteran steamboat engineer, John G. Gibbs, wrote a letter to Capt. Ellis Mace years after the race with THE ROBT. E. LEE and then his career on the next LEE that had a disastrous engine failure on a Mardi Gras trip, 1879. One of her '40 inch by 10 ft. stroke' engines "ran through" tearing out the cylinder, struck the beam under five of the nine boilers killing two deck hands, crippling several more. Opinions from the crew, experts in the New Orleans foundry milling a new engine was "that engine on the former racer LEE had been badly worn out, stressed by the race. Racer LEE had eight boilers, 'new' LEE nine boilers." No doubt, knowing steamboat buffs, debates and arguments would arise over that. At this late date how could we really know and who cares?

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