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W.R. Dancey 06-29-2014 09:38 PM

Visit to the Steamer 'Lone Star,' Valuable to Future Generations.
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This weekend, my family and I visited the steamer 'Lone Star' at the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire, IA. The new glass sided building over the boat is beautiful, but more importantly is keeping the decrepit vessel out of the elements. There were clear signs of recent restoration work, but there is still a lot to be done. From what I understand and experienced, the 'Lone Star' is already in a much better state than just a few years ago. The pilothouse, cabins, and part of the upper deck are all open for viewing. For someone who was visiting the 'Lone Star' for the first time, I must say that I am astounded by the wealth of information and insight the boat is capable of giving all us steamboaters! This information can range from simple things, such as what types of wood were used in different areas of the boat, to more complex subjects such as the mathematics of the machinery and even how the boat was operated! It is a shame that the little steamer seems so overlooked in the river community. Now, it is preserved for the inquisitive brains of the next generation( such as mine) and perhaps one day will aid in the research and reconstruction of replica steamers. The condition of the boat is, however, still a bit shaky. At least now it can't get worse since it is under cover. It is interesting to note that the 'PS Adelaide' in Echuca, Australia is older than the 'Lone Star' by several years, is of wooden construction, but is still operational. From what I have jsut seen, though, I am fairly certain that an operational preservation of the 'Lone Star' would be next to impossible to obtain. With that said, I still believe that the boat is an invaluable resource for marine archaeologists, shipwrights, and the likes. It is only possible to obtain a certain amount of information by studying pictures and reading books, but having a boat such as the 'Lone Star' helps to bring life to the photos and meaning to the words. I feel now that I have a much better grasp on the construction of wooden river steamers of the early 20th century! Has there ever been an all encompassing survey of the 'Lone Star?' Have her blueprints been recreated with mathematical detail, or are the 1920's prints still in existance? Please help quench my thirst for information! Thanks in advance!

W.R. Dancey

W.R. Dancey 06-29-2014 09:41 PM

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Here are some more photos!

W.R. Dancey 06-29-2014 09:44 PM

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Some detail and pilothouse interior.

W.R. Dancey 06-29-2014 09:47 PM

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More shots of the interior as well as the paddlewheel.

W.R. Dancey 06-29-2014 09:49 PM

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Exterior shots show some of the new wood, recently installed.

W.R. Dancey 06-29-2014 09:53 PM

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The photo of the hull from the view of the waterline is a good example of something that might have been easily forgotten by future steamboaters...the lower contour of the hull!

W.R. Dancey 06-29-2014 09:57 PM

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Last of the pictures, including the river side exterior, a temperature gauge? on top of one of the boiler barrels , and yours truly striking a pose.

Bob Reynolds 06-29-2014 11:15 PM

Thanks for the pics, W.R.! The last time I saw the LONE STAR she was still outside, looking pretty rough. The guage on top of the boilers is a water level gauge -- very important to keep the water level "just right" so that the steam is not too wet, or the boilers don't explode!

I remember a story Capt. C.S. "Rip" Ware used to tell about the LONE STAR. Capt. Ware was pilot on the m/v R.H. McELROY for Pure Oil Co., and it was his first trip up the Upper Mississippi River. This was before the days of VHF radios on all boats, and Capt. Ware came up astern of the LONE STAR. Capt. Rip was "road mapping"; that is, he was running strictly by a chart and radar and searchlight, and he basically had no idea where he was. He said, "I thought, 'oh, boy, there's the ALEXANDER MacKENZIE -- I KNOW he knows where he's going! I'll just follow him!'" After a few miles, the LONE STAR started up in Cordova chute, on his way to the sand and gravel pit. The pilot on the LONE STAR saw Rip start to follow him up there and frantically waved his searchlight out toward the main channel to warn Capt. Rip away from what would have been a not-very-good situation! I miss that old man.

Judy Patsch 06-29-2014 11:20 PM

Your LONE STAR visit
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Glad you got to visit her and it is good to see your enthusiasm! I live just downriver 16 miles and so have visited her often. Yes, she certainly is in better shape now than probably ever since she was pulled up out of the river in the late 60s. The fact that you were in the pilothouse shows very recent progress - that wasn't accessible a year or so ago. They have done a nice job displaying items along the walkway surrounding the boat too. This is an example of what a small community can do if they have the desire and leadership. Unless the TWILIGHT passengers arrive a day early, they are unable to visit the museum and boat, but quite a few do come in early and see the town. Did you happen to go aboard the CITY OF BATON ROUGE, her wharf boat? There's another historic vessel for you. As to whether there have been any plans drawn, I don't have any idea. The last master of the LONE STAR, Glenn Johnson, lives in Prophetstown. You might contact him to see what he knows. He spoke to our Midwest Riverboat Buffs a couple of years ago and gave an interesting talk on his LS days.

Frank X. Prudent 06-29-2014 11:35 PM

[QUOTE=W.R. Dancey;33309]...a temperature gauge? on top of one of the boiler barrels...[/QUOTE]

That water gauge that Bob mentions was made by The E.W. Van Duzen Company in Cincinnati. Today in Louisville, there are two Van Duzen gauges which were liberated from the W.P. SNYDER JR. serving as they are intended to do on the BELLE .

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