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Bruno Krause 11-15-2006 01:01 PM

Some DQ History Questions...
I am curious about the following items about the Delta Queen that I have seen in pictures posted or linked to this forum. I apologize that you may have to bounce around a bit to see the various pictures I'm curious about...

The first question concerns Jon Tschiggfrie's pictures on his website. Jon, under the "miscellaneous pictures" section, pictures 130, 131 and 132 show a partial paddlewheel and shaft that are now a monument on land, are these pictures of the old DQ wheel shaft that cracked? You took a close up picture of the crack...Wonderful pictures on your website by the way, thanks! And as a follow-up question, was there ever found out a reason why the shaft cracked? Or was it chalked up to bad luck?

The next curiosity is a picture on page 15 of the blog. There is a wonderful bow-on picture of the DQ in her Sacramento river days. What was the function of the triangular little building/room that used to be on the deck of the bow?

The last concerns a picture on page 18 of the blog. The picture shows the DQ being finished up with her retrofit at Dravo in Pittsburgh the winter of '47/'48. When the boats were in California, were the passengers allowed on the roof? Or were the sun deck stairs to the roof shown in the picture (where the calliope is today) something that was added by the Navy during the war?

Thanks all, Bruno

R. Dale Flick 11-15-2006 03:05 PM

Hi, Bruno:
Read your questions Re: the period photos of the DELTA QUEEN and I'll share what I 'think' I know.

Pg. 15 bow-on photo of the DELTA QUEEN is a dandy and It came from the collection of Judy Patsch. It was taken at the CALIFORNIA TRANSPORTATION CO. dock in Sacramento, California. Don't know if it was dated or not. It shows the C.T. CO. big pier and huge warehouse there. The drop down to the water and the deck of the DK/DQ was considerable and they had an elevator at one time to lower/raise cargo and automobiles for shipment. *The "triangular little building" on the bow of the boat was additional passenger housing the company built for "Single men only" with some 42 berths. The price for passage was for a long time 50 cents each. Meals could be purchased extra in the main dining room. I won't go so far as to say the rooms were 'skid row' but in those days single men, by custom, were kept separate unless they had the money to purchase higher priced cabins above. In the 1920-1930 era there was still a need for cheaper rooms to house laborers and immigrants traveling up the Sacramento to various mills and the big agricultural areas. The boats on California waters were never fitted with a swinging stage as the custom here. Freight/autos were loaded/unloaded along the side ocean ship style. At time the railings on the top decks were swung back and passengers arrived via a gangway on what was termed then 'Saloon' and upper 'Obervation deck.' Tidal levels played a part in this. John Burns, son of old Jim Burns who built the boats, related to me that the Asian [Chinese/Japanese immigrants] trade wasn't treated all that politely by today's 'Politically correct' standards. That's another story for another day.

Pg. 18 showing the distinct stairs or 'ladder' in nautical terms up to the stern of the top deck was no doubt installed in the World War II days for access by Navy sailors etc. There was no roof railing around but they needed access to various lights and fixtures up there and to post 'naked eye observers.' One of the three tall slightly raked masts showing in old photos was wired for Navy radio communications and clearly shows in the stern view of the DELTA QUEEN transiting the Panama Canal as seen on Pg. 92 of Fred Way's 'The Saga of the DELTA QUEEN.' That same radio mast was taken down from the roof behind the plothouse and used as the temporary jackstaff on the bow for the trip from New Orleans to Cincinnati and thence to Dravo in 1947.

I'll defer to others with long memories Re: the cracked shaft as per your above question.

R. Dale Flick

Bruno Krause 11-15-2006 03:35 PM

Thanks for your insight. Thanks also to you and Judy for the great pictures.

A follow up question...was the room on the bow directly connected to other occupied areas of the boat? It's doubtful, but did the single men that were housed in that room on the bow access their rooms up from the boiler deck? Or maybe through the side corridors from the car storage area/Orleans dining room? They didn't let the passengers walk out on the bow back then, did they? Doesn't look like there is a whole bunch of room to walk there.

The DQ's railings on the cabin deck are still swung back with a small gangway from time to time. At least that's they way the company has done it at the Baton Rouge "paperclip". Very interesting design what with the mahogany(?) railing being hinged upward on huge brass hinges, while the knee mesh is slid horizontally out of the way...still works pretty good after, what is it, 79 years of use?

Thanks again, I always enjoy your posts.


R. Dale Flick 11-15-2006 04:31 PM

Read your 'follow' and the question. If the 'single men' in the deck house on the bow had the money they would walk across and up the main stairway to the cabin deck. Meal plans were either al la carte or full plan with meals included. If the night run up from San Francisco--or the other way around--was a short haul until they disembarked many wouldn't eat at all. No doubt a number of the 'single men' were traveling on the cheap. Then again if a guy cleaned up, had decent clothes and could pay for the meal he'd go up to the cabin. I'd make an analogy that these 50 cents rooms were 'Tourist class' or 'Steerage' at best. Society aboard a steamboat or ship was a microcosm of life ashore.

As late at the 1920s here the big L&C LINE did the same with cabins and meal service on the cheap aboard the big CINCINNATI and her sister the classic QUEEN CITY. Full rooms with meals were $5. 'Going deck' was a throw-back to the passengers who crowded on the lower boiler decks in the old days around the boilers, freight and livestock being shipped.

R. Dale Flick

Jon Tschiggfrie 11-15-2006 04:40 PM

These photos were taken at the Howard Steamboat Museum yard. I was made to understand that the shaft is indeed the original from the [I]Delta Queen[/I]. As to the rest of the wheel, I don't know if it is a fabricated replica or the real deal. I'm sure there's others on this board with more info than this. Anyone want to chime in?

R. Dale Flick 11-15-2006 05:02 PM

Hi, Bruno & Jon:
I'm 'fuzzy' about the paddlewheel now mounted at the Howard Museum in Jeffersonville, IN. Keith Norrington would know in a jiffy and will be back on line tomorrow. Alan Bates and others could also enlighten us.

I do recall hearing, that when the shaft broke on the DELTA QUEEN, there was a gentleman taking his daily constitution walking around the deck and happened to look over and see the shaft cracked. He was no fool and sounded the alarm PRONTO! Capts. Don Sanders, Bob Reynolds etc. may know the full story. Even the best of steel after all of those years of rolling, rolling, backing, heading would have developed stress cracks.

Now, I've one. I pulled down Stan Garvey's 'KING & QUEEN of the River' book to refresh my memory of the World War II days. Pretty interesting stuff. No doubt the Navy crew aboard were at times armed and had armanents. John Burns related to me he recalled "A cabin on the boat used to store sidearms, rifles--no doubt a machine gun or several thrown in." The DK/DQ from the get go were equipped with magnetic compases for navigation on San Francisco Bay and its upper reaches. I've often wondered if the boats ever had guns mounted on deck? Yet, from what I recall, deck guns are a touchy thing needing solid footing and mounting. The wood/canvas decks on the boats would have been an issue. The Japanese threat after Pearl Harbor was an ever present one with fears of 'mini subs' sneaking along the coast and into San Francisco Bay itself. The Navy mounted lookouts on the very top deck during drills and alerts etc.

R. Dale Flick

Paul Penta 11-15-2006 06:17 PM

While we're on the subject, I seem to recall during my time on the Mother Ship some discussion about there having been a "boat" vehicle on board for use when in port to run errands. It supposedly was a Beetle kept on the bow.

Urban legend or fact?


Bill Judd 11-15-2006 07:47 PM

Its a fact !!! In fact more autos than just the VW has graced the DQ deck

Bruno Krause 11-15-2006 09:37 PM

Now you've got me going...I've read about the V-Dub, orange wasn't it? And didn't it float in the Ohio for a while after THE unfortunate experience, in where was it, Paducah? I can identify with the driver, my first experience with a stick shift was a nightmare, too. What ever happened to that VW, is it still providing iron to the Ohio's gamefish?

Other cars? I have a hard time imagining a VW beetle fitting on the stage. And I can't imagine any other brands of cars even beginning to fit, as they were all bigger than a Beetle. And the thought of trying to turn a car, ANY car around on the DQ bow deck, brrrr, instant goosebumps.

I can hope...are there pictures, of any car on the bow/stage of the DQ that posters could share? I vaguely remember seeing a black and white with the VW parked on the bow facing the starboard side...


Bill Judd 11-15-2006 09:45 PM

Now is when we need Capts. Don Sanders and Bob Reynolds to enlighten us. I even seem to remember in my grey fog of aging memory something about a TV truck. Maybe Don and Bob will step in with "the rest of the story"

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