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Jim Reising 09-06-2017 02:01 PM

"De Lovin' Kate"
On another site there was reference to the last KATE ADAMS. John Fryant brought up the question, since the boat was partially owned by Capt. James Reese, did Reese build the hull then moved the hull to Howards for completion? I always wondered the same thing. So, I dug through the archives of the Louisville Courier Journal and found the answer....NO! The steel hull was built and launched (a rare side ways launch) by Howards with 5/16" side plates and 3/8" knuckles, 240' long x 40'wide, just slightly smaller than the DELTA QUEEN. Fully fueled with steam up she drew 31" forward and 35" aft.
Capt. Reese came to Jeffersonville and superintended the construction of the cabin and finish work. The cabin works were designed by a local architectural firm.
One interesting item on the KATE was she had "apartments" for the deck crew in the aft part of the hull with "wire beds, tables, chairs, electric lights and other comforts".
Now my question is..why didn't Reese build the hull? Was their yard in downtown Pittsburgh too small for a hull that size?

R. Dale Flick 09-06-2017 05:52 PM

*My grandma rode "De Lovin' KATE"*
Steamboating colleagues,
WOW! Jim, you jolted me good here opening, reading your posting above RE: "De Lovin' KATE" meaning the 2nd great packet KATE ADAMS 1899-1927. So caught you had me, I ran pulling down Capt. Fred Way's PACKET DIRECTORY to Pg. 264 Entry No: 3217 for Fred's big 'blow' as such writings on steamboats were. His entry runs over two pages which Fred reserved only for the grand boats. Remember, there were three so named: 1882 at a longer 250 ft.; 1888 at 250 ft.; the one above down to 240 ft. The descriptions too long to quote here. I've a fine B/W photo of the KATE ADAMS given to me years ago by Loretta Howard on a visit then to the mansion/museum taken when finished landed at HOWARD YARDS. She was some boat that not only impressed Fred Way but just about everybody who saw or rode on her. My grandmother traveled on the last KATE ADAMS once or possibly twice euphoric with high praise the rest of her life with, "The KATE ADAMS the most beautiful boat I ever rode." Fred writes/mentions how the Reese firm in Pittsburgh "supervised" the building down at HOWARD.

The last KATE ADAMS held what was probably one of the last few U.S. Mail contracts awarded to a steamboat. The contract given in 1922 between Memphis and Rosedale. The KATE won the contract due to the rather isolated region down there. The U.S. Post Office considered steamboat mail contracts more than a headache since the beginning of steamboat navigation way back due to weather, river conditions: low water, floods, ice etc. Until dependable railroads were built the post office had no choice but award steamboats. Also steamboat companies and captains often would not sail as scheduled awaiting more freight and passengers. Mail boats had to be on very strict schedules in time and speed expending more fuel. Many boat operators later found the mail contract may have been a prestige but not always worth it. The mail contract went from the KATE to the expanding 'Missouri-Pacific Railroad.' The paddleboxes were emblazoned by her name with 'U.S. MAIL.' The KATE ended up being deliberately torched Jan. 8, 1927 in a segment of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' renamed LA BELLE RIVIERE. I first saw that movie as a kid years later and wondered even then about her deliberate burning.

Several years ago I attended an uppity art show and reception here in Cincinnati at a gallery featuring John Stobart among others. Stobart was in town for the wine, cheese, canape deal. Stobart had painted a fine rendition of the first KATE ADAMS docked in Pittsburgh. I noted the tag on the frame being in the six figure $$ range. Thanks!

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

Bob Reynolds 09-06-2017 07:56 PM

Jim and Dale, thanks for yours above about the KATE ADAMS. Much that I either din't know or had forgotten.

Dale mentions the mail contract from Rosedale to Memphis. Rosedale, today, is a shadow of its former self, but still a viable town. Many towns in the "delta" have simply dried up due to highways and mechanized farming.

I have some personal connection with the city of Clarksdale, MS, north of Rosedale. My father's aunt and uncle lived in Clarksdale where he was a big cotton planter also owning the cotton gin, a cotton seed mill and several large peach and pecan orchards. "Uncle Charles" was quite successful in Clarksdale, but the city of Clarksdale was/is a relatively young town. That area of the "Mississippi Delta" as we call it is really the area between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers, a very fertile area. However, it was all dense woods and even swampy until pretty late in the game -- after the Civil War. Folks got in there and cleared out the timber and began using this "delta", as they called it, for prime farm land growing cotton, but it was well after the "romantic" era we often think of. My point in telling all of this is that before there were towns there (Clarksdale, for one), the area was all woods with no railroads, no roads, etc. Rosedale, with its river access, was a hub.

When the land was cleared the railroad (Yazoo and Mississippi Valley RR) came in with a rail line that connected with the Illinois Central and made this area attractive to land owners and farmers; now they could ship their cotton to Memphis where it was ginned, baled and graded and then shipped out. This, along with US Hwy 61, really transformed it.

There was a town about every 7 miles in the "delta". The reason for this was so farmers could load their cotton on a wagon, take it to "town" to the railroad station for shipping, then be able to return home before dark. Now, with good roads many of those towns have simply disappeared, or are just a few houses along the road. The railroad has been abandoned. This area of the delta had no river access, and so was dependent on the railroad to come through before it could be developed. Now everything moves on the highway.

In 1922 when the KATE got that mail contract, those towns I mentioned were then booming, the railroad firmly established, and decent highways were going in. That would have been the last gasp of an era, the mail packet. It survived longer at Rosedale because of conditions I mentioned.

"Things change", and boy is that ever true even today. I think folks always resist it and think things will go on forever as they have been, but it didn't happen then and is not happening now, which of course is why we need got understand history.

Jim Reising 09-06-2017 10:31 PM

When a young Doc Carr got thrown out of his home town...Cave-In-Rock, Ill. He got a job with the IC RR building the line down in Mississippi. Not sure if it's the line you mentioned or not, but it sure sounds like it was. He didn't last long on the railroad so he bought a gas boat, a barrel of whiskey, got an Indian as a partner and went up the Wabash River selling patent medicine.

R. Dale Flick 09-07-2017 08:11 AM

*Cotton country/Doc Carr*
Morning, Steamboating colleagues,
First, Bob, my thanks for your extremely well-written, informative posting with memories of the cotton country, railroads etc. Yes, the last U.S. Mail contract to the KATE ADAMS was short-lived until the railroad came in with faster, more dependable mail service in that relative back-waters area. Hard to say when any boat company had the last mail contract but I'd suspect and 'guess' the steamboats on rivers in Alaska. Northern Canadian ports still had mail contracts on steamships down in very late years.

The history of the U.S. Post Office and steamboat mail contracts one not told in full. I've been digging, researching the subject with sources in the department itself, Smithsonian Institution and Library of Congress. Probably wouldn't catch the interest of the 'boaties' with Ooohhhs and Ahhhhhhs like for the DQ, but important. OUCH! One problem the postal service found with steamboat mail contracts with the totally independent and cantankerous attitude many steamboat captains had leaving on schedule, keeping on schedule. Another issue was the custom of captains just carrying mail or parcels on their boats free as a courtesy. The post office had a fit learning that steamboat officers, clerks were charging their own minimal carrying rate with the receipts going in the boat's till. Again, what do I know?

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

Jim, I had no idea RE: the early history of Doc Carr. What a hoot! Then he went on the river. I've forgotten most about that and what boats he was on. Any idea on your part? Doc took his duties seriously with the GREENE LINE tending to the wharfboat and offices. His so-called 'museum' on the wharfboat well-done adding interest and color when you came on or climbed the stairs to the offices. Again, that huge GL wharfboat was the very last surviving and in use by any steamboat line going way back. It never has failed to fascinate me and others almost as much as the GORDON C. GREENE and the DELTA QUEEN.

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

Frank X. Prudent 09-07-2017 02:13 PM

Dale, I believe that you have veteran Greene Line captain, Lanes A. McMurtrey "Captain Mack" confused with "Doc'' Carr. It was "Captain Mack" who had his little museum at the upper end of the Cincinnati wharfboat.

R. Dale Flick 09-07-2017 06:34 PM

*My 'senior moment*
Hi, Frank!
Thanks for dropping the other shoe. Right you are with me confusing 'Cap. Mack' and 'Doc Carr.' I posted that at 6:11 AM prior to heading out for my usual gym session. A 'senior moment.' See you at S&D next week!

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

Dan Lewis 09-19-2017 11:41 AM

I've had a similar curiosity about the KATE. I imagined Reese certainly had the expertise but, perhaps, felt the Howard yard had a greater capability for building such a hull.

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