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Old 09-12-2006, 01:29 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: On the "Beautiful Ohio" at New Albany, Indiana, opposite Louisville, Kentucky
Posts: 2,078

Indeed, Capt. Roy Barkhau's wonderfully vivid description of the Eagle Boat Store in his book is one of those gems that you easily can "see" and almost "smell". After Capt. Buck Leyhe's passing in 1956, his son Fred took over the operation of the boat store and moved it aboard the ex-snagboat Charles H. West. The old vacated building at 805 North Wharf Street was virtually abandoned for some years. It was, however, FULL of many wonderful steamboat artifacts, including Capt. Buck's mahogany rolltop desk, numerous relics from Eagle Packet Company boats, large framed boat pictures, Regulator clocks (I have one of them!) clerk's stand-up desk, and numerous other fabulous finds for steamboat fanatics. Miss Ruth Ferris, beloved St. Louis teacher, noted river historian and river museum curator -- and a longtime friend of the Leyhe family, was permitted to use many of these items, including a big section of the counter and shelves laden with running lights, shackles, tools and assorted boat hardware, for her Midship Museum aboard the Str. Becky Thatcher at the St. Louis waterfront where these could be seen and enjoyed from 1966 until 1974. Ruth once told me about finding a dilapidated old suitcase on the third floor of the boat store building. Opening it gently she found it was full of steamboat pictures and several log books from the Str. Golden Eagle! A dusty box contained a dozen or so decorative wooden acorns from a long gone steamboat, a river scrapbook and the manuscript (complete with watercolor for the dust jacket) of Robert Hereford's book "Old Man River". Many of the items were later scattered to such places as the history museum at Alton, Il., the St. Louis Mercantile Library's Herman T. Pott Waterways Library, and a number of private collectors. Capt. Buck's desk, Str. Bald Eagle tool chest, the boat store counter/shelves, and other items which were displayed at the now closed Golden Eagle River Museum will go on permanent display in 2007 at the new museum now under construction near the Mississippi River Bridge at Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The old Eagle Boat Store building on Wharf Street was used for some time as "The Old St. Louis Levee House", bar, restaurant, and entertainment venue for the St. Louis Ragtimers, Jean Kittrell and other musicians. The narrow, three story building burned in March, 1972 and was razed. A number of antiques and artifacts on display and stored on the two upper floors were destroyed. The Eagle Boat Store operation evolved into Eagle Marine Industries, which today is operated out of Sauget, Illinois by Mr. Richard Burke, son in law of the late Fred Leyhe. So, the long tradition and river business involvement of the Leyhe family's Eagle Packet Company/Eagle Boat Store lives on lo these many decades later.

Last edited by Keith Norrington; 09-12-2006 at 02:45 PM.
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