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25 years ago...

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Old 06-24-2015, 07:42 AM
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: I live in the town of Assen in the Netherlands
Posts: 20
Default 25 years ago...

I am not sure this is the correct thread, but I'll give it a go anyway.

Hello everybody,
My name is Willem van Berkel and I live in the Netherlands. In 1978 I read an arcticle in a Dutch hobby magazine about Wester River boats. It had pictures of the Queen City, Kate Adams, Sprague, Chaparon, Valley Belle, J.M. White and her model by John Lesley. I fell in love instantly. The story behind it was of Manfred Mueller. He was a German modelbuilder and riverboat enthousiast who also sold kits and plans. I ordered his catalog right away and when I got it I didn't know what to do. I wanted to have it all! Unfortunately the things he sold were rather expensive, so I had to restrain myself and the Robt. E Lee model plans. That was the first of many purchases, both from Germany and from the U.S.A. I got hold of a few adresses and started to write to people.
Imagine this: when I started in 1979, (I was 19 then) with this hobby there was no internet. Everything went via snail-mail and airmail. Letters took weeks to arrive and sometimes I had to wait months for an answer.
I corresponded with about 30 to 40 people in the U.S., pestering libraries, riverboat captains, engineers, government offices, anyone how could supply me with any information at all about these beautifull boats and their unique steamengines. With the introduction of the internet, and everything and everbody coming online, it has become a lot easier.
Unfortunately I do not have the funds to cross the water and investigate everything at the spot, so to speak. I could spent weeks in your libraries and second-hand bookshops!
In the past 25 years I have been fortunate enough to collect a serious amount of information. My interest has somewhat shifted to the machiner of these beautifull boats and I have literaly stalked people like William Sawyer, Conrad Milster and especially Jack Custer.
Due to personal circumstances I have not been able to spend much time on my hobby. Along the way I lent material and books to other Western River buffs, but unfortunately some things were never returned. Both the Western Rivers Steamboat Cyclopoedium and the Engineroom Cyclopoedium were lost. I have mailed mister Keith Norrington of the Howard Steamboat museum who I believe owns the copyrights for the books, but I have'nt heard from him so far.
I recently found this site and enjoy it very much. I am still browsing all the treads ans learn a lot every time!
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