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*No. 1 Memoirs of John C. Howard*

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Old 03-21-2013, 11:01 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,573

*No. 6 'Reminiscenses of John C. Howard'
Steamboating colleagues:
The 'Reminiscenses' of John C. Howard continue with his description of building/launching several fine boats in the 1850s. Again we find ourselves wishing for more details from his memories in 1903/1904.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"The ECLIPSE [*WAY'S PACKET DIRECTORY Pgs. 138/139, entry No. 1688 for the 'big blow' on this great boat], 365 feet long, the largest and finest boat of those days, was built below New Albany, across the river from Garr Place about that time, 1852. She was to launch sideways, but about that time she was ready a 'friendly rise' came and floated her. The sideways launch of the PRINCESS was the first experience Dan Horton had in launching that way, and owing to the unsuitable shore, made a great failure. It was customary for us to get the hulls over the falls early in the season, which we did by hand, with large sweeps, gougers and steering oars. We had no tugs or towboats in those days, and this was a difficult job. About that season, 1852, in taking the MESSENGER an Alabama River boat, over the falls, we lodged her on Wave rock--which has since been blasted out--just off Whirlpool Point. The river fell and left her high and dry.

"We put ways under her, and with lines and purchases on Whirpool Point, launched her sideways nearly on a level, about 150 feet. We got her in the water and finished her in the Whirlpool so that she was ready when the water came. Later we finished the ROBERT E. LEE [*No. 2. Some slight variance in dates in WAY'S DIRECTORY] at Cairo, also the J.M. WHITE in order to have them ready for the Southern business. The LEE on her first trip in 1875, left New Orleans on the 1st of September, and the 1st of January--just four months after, was $90,000 ahead. That is the way they made money in those days. If they [*Boats] were caught up the Ohio in a protracted low water, they would not get out sometimes until the first of January, thereby losing the best of the season. [*'Pop rises,' 'Thanksgiving rise,' 'January rise' often mentioned] In what an era I have lived, how wonderful! Saw the beginning, and, it seems, the ending of the fascinating steamboat days.

"The first vessel ever built on the waters of the West, was the 'brig' [*Sailing vessel] DEAN on the site of Allegheny City, in 1806, and made her first voyage from Pittsburgh to the Mediterranean. The first steamboat built at Louisville was the GOV. SHELBY, 90 tons capacity, completed in 1817. The first at Jeffersonville was the UNITED STATES, commenced in 1818, hull towed to New Orleans, where she was finished. Her cabin built in New Orleans, and machinery, costing $65,000 in Scotland. The boat complete cost $132,000. [*Engines from Scotland intriguing and a prelude to the DELTA KING/DELTA QUEEN, in part, in Dumbarton, Scotland in the 1920s. Reasons for this varied] She was not finished until 1821, the first boat with an independent engine for each wheel." [*This may answer previous questions on RE: 'independent engines]

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