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Jim Reising 07-23-2016 10:25 AM

J.M WHITE...A Discovery
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I just recently discovered, in studying photos of the J.M. WHITE, that the whistle is located not on the side of the pilothouse but in the middle of the pilothouse's roof. I have never seen this on any other boat. Look at the picture of the pilothouse you'll see the steamline going inside the pilothouse (or it looks like that to me).
My question is why did Howards put it there and is this the only boat they did it on

Keith Norrington 07-23-2016 10:55 AM

In 1987 Capt. Fred Way generously presented me with the 7 foot model he built of the J.M. WHITE in 1937. It had been relegated to a dusty basement storage room after being on display for many years in the original River Museum (opened in 1941) in the basement of the Campus Martius Museum at Marietta, Ohio. Capt. Fred was NOT too happy that the model was not included in the displays when the new Ohio River Museum opened in 1974.

Anyway, I noticed on the model that the whistle was in the middle of the pilothouse roof. Capt. Fred told me that he didn't know the reason why, but that was where it was located on "the real deal" and that he had fashioned the whistle from five bullet shells that he referred to as 'the five rats' - due to the fact that he had shot at rats around his garage at 121 River Avenue in Sewickley, PA.

Today's "River Trivia"!

Bob Reynolds 07-23-2016 12:01 PM

Love it. I wish had a "like" button for posts such as this.

Bob Reynolds 07-23-2016 12:03 PM

Jim, this might have been a case of the owner specifying the whistle be placed there. Sometimes when people build something (or have it built) they have funny requests.

Jim Reising 07-23-2016 02:04 PM

I'm a believer in the old saying "nothing happens without a reason". If John W. Tobin specified the whistle be placed in the center of the pilothouse, he must have had a reason; but for the life of me, I can't figure out what that reason would be.

Russ Ryle 07-23-2016 02:23 PM

re: Where is the steam pipe?
Can anyone come up with other photos of the pilot house that might solve this mystery?

Keep your steam up!

Russ Ryle

Jim Reising 07-23-2016 08:50 PM

Look at both looks to me that right in the center of the pilothouse you can see the steam the front on picture of the pilothouse you might think its the sash of the back window. At least that's my opinion.

Jim Reising 07-23-2016 09:05 PM

From research I did for a video I did on the life of James Howard, I found that John W. Tobin"s story was pretty interesting. He went into the cotton business in New Orleans in the early 1840's, he failed so he went to the California gold rush and in California he was successful. He came back to New Orleans and went into the steamboat business, in the late 1850's he had James Howard build him the FRANK PARAGOULD, a large side wheeler. When the war broke out, he still owed the Howards considerable money. As the war went on Tobin ended up burning the boat to keep his pride and joy from falling into the hands of the Yankees. After the war Tobin saw that there was a great shortage of steamboats but he had no money and he still had his debt he owed the Howards. In 1867 he traveled to Jeffersonville where he stayed in James Howard's home. While there he convinced Howard to build him a boat largely on credit, promising to not only pay off the new boat but also his past debt. James Howard built a second PARAGOULD for Tobin. The second boat was the right boat at the right time, not only did Tobin pay off his debt, pay off his new boat but made enough to build the J.M.WHITE.

Russ Ryle 07-24-2016 10:55 AM

re: Where is the steam pipe?
Morning Jim and all,

Upon closer examination I think I agree with your analysis of the steam pipe. If you enlarge the side view of the boat there is a vertical line (pipe?) smack dab in the center of the pilot house ceiling to floor. If that is in fact a steam pipe I wonder how many folks got burnt bumping into it moving around the pilot house?

Interesting piece of our steamboat heritage.

Keep your steam up, safely!

Best regards,

Russ Ryle

R. Dale Flick 07-25-2016 08:03 AM

*J.M. WHITE whistle pipe/How and why with Tobin?*
Morning, Steamboating colleagues:
Great thread here from Jim with observations from Keith, Bob, Russ, and I agree with the steamboat forensics revealed in the photos. Who would have thought and leave it to Jim's keen eye. Went on line, dug in other books/photos here of the WHITE but found none more detailed with the whistle pipe. Jim and Keith probably know for sure, but seems to me [?] there could, possibly, perhaps be 'another' WHITE photo inside her pilothouse. Or am I thinking of another boat with no center pipe evident?

Eons ago Capt. Fred Way showed me an original copy of the Louisville newspaper article written by sage Will S. Hayes when the WHITE was finished. These big 'blows' in newspapers of the day were long, detailed with a wide public audience. I don't recall any mention of her whistle or that pipe in the article Fred had. Several other original news articles by Hayes I have here mention whistles but not how mounted. Pulled down 'Paddlewheels to Propellers' by Fishbaugh reading those pages on the WHITE with no mention. But then really why would there be?

Tobin may have been a man who got what he wanted and able to afford it, but to mount a steam pipe like that today would give the Coast Guard heartburn. I wonder also about working around the pipe, heat radiating from it in all seasons? No doubt the Howards employed asbestos insulation with steam pipes, engines, boilers as it had been on the market from the very early 1870s and earlier with emergence of the industrial revolution. Already by the 1890s medical literature focused on the dangers of breathing asbestos. This a prelude to what we know today. And there is no such thing as "inert asbestos." What impresses me is that incredible sign board on the front, sides of the J.S, WHITE pilothouse with incised letters in gilt, dark field in black no doubt done with finely ground coal applied with mastic that glistened in the light. Those signs even then were admired as a fine piece of craftsmanship if not art. Well, what do I know?

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

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