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R. Dale Flick 05-16-2006 05:31 PM

'Today in Steamboat History'/Last trip of CITY OF LOUISVILLE.
Steamboating colleagues:
'Today in Steamboat History' Re: 'last trip of Str. CITY OF LOUISVILLE is not only interesting but raises some questions. Way's PACKET DIRECTORY No. 1095 mentions this date, "May 16, 1917 - Left Louisville on her last trip to Cincinnati...laid up across the river at Covington..." No reasons given other than she was possibly too expensive for the tight pockets of old 'Commodore' Fred Laidley and his L&C LINE. She remained in Covington for months until "early 1918 when she was returned to Cincinnati because of heavy ice." The rest is history when she and her sister CITY OF CINCINNATI, among others, were ground under by the legendary ice. The HERCULES CARREL towed her back to the Cincinnati side. She had steam up and went down with wheels turning in the ice.

Michael Blaser's incredible painting 'Steamer CITY OF LOUISVILLE being broken out of the ice by HERCULES CARREL' is a masterpiece of this event. Question is: What was the financial situation of the L&C LINE at that time and why was she taken out of service so many months before? Costs? Changing needs? Loss of freight/passenger business?

R. Dale Flick

Tom Schiffer 05-16-2006 07:19 PM

Dale: The CITY OF LOUISVILLE has always been of interest to me. It was one fast boat and it was doubly tragic that L&C lost both of their best steamers.

Michael Blaser 05-17-2006 11:57 AM

Dale, a fine compliment is almost as good as money in the bank. There are actually two paintings centered around the ordeal of January 1918. Capt Way's masterfully written paragraph in WPD documents COL's last hours, but like many biblical passages leaves the reader wondering about the leadup. In this case just how did COL get from Covington to L&C Wharfboat? J&S Custer reminded me of my error on completing the View of Covington painting. The river was closed from 17 December on. Woody Rutter tried in vein to document from Fred's notes about har her short voyage that Capt. Way mentioned as early Jan 1918. It is always a clash of wills to combine history and art and not muck it up. The Icebound painting now graces the parlor of Commodore Laidley's home in Covington. Fran & Jim Allen have rebuilt this masterpiece brick by brick.

R. Dale Flick 05-17-2006 12:12 PM

Dear Mike:
I wasn't aware of the debates over when the CITY OF LOUISVILLE was moved and when. I could search it out here as it 'may' have appeared in the river section of the local papers at that time. Remember, Mike, that was a long time ago and "They're all dead." Jim Allen and his wife have done a masterful job in restoring the Laidley mansion in Covington. They were kind in opening it for a group tour some years back and we were all WOWED at what we saw. After our tour they photographed us on the front steps.

When the last Laidley daughter died some of the contents were auctioned off over here in Cincinnati. It was something to behold and I was amazed at the sterling silver set of some 388 pieces + or - along with a huge cut glass cake bell that would have required strong arms to lift the top. Shipyard Sam knows a lot more than I do on the final disposition of the Laidley materials. I'm glad your painting graces the mansion. Now if they will contract with John Fryant to do a scale model that will really put the icing on the cake.

R. Dale Flick

Keith Norrington 05-17-2006 12:14 PM

Michael: Every publication, painting, etc. needs to have at least one error in it so there will be "something" for everybody, including those nitpicking people who are continuously looking for something wrong! With today being the anniversary of the departure of the ill fated trip of the Str. GOLDEN EAGLE, I'd like to compliment you on your wonderful rendering of the boat upbound at the Eads Bridge as she departed on the famous trip to St. Paul in 1939. Many dear and departed St. Louis steamboat mentor friends such as Ruth Ferris, Jimmy Swift and Rudy Gerber were aboard for that momentous trip. The triple matted print hangs on my bedroom wall and is always pleasant to wake up to and think of those friends and the revered old steamboat GOLDEN EAGLE, with beloved Capt. Buck Leyhe as her master. Thanks again for doing that great picture!

Michael Blaser 05-17-2006 01:08 PM

Dear Dale

M'Lissa Kesterman told me that the watchmans records from the L&C Wharfboat documents the last river traffic on the 17th of December. J. T. Hatfield moved upstream out of harms way on the 8th of December 1917. This would indicate that COL must have made the move sometime before 17 Dec. The accurate window of the painting is 6-8 December to 17 December. I wonder if the same watchmans records herald COL's arrival for the protection downstream of L& C Wharfboat. H Carrol was the harbor boat for White Collar if my memory is right. Your picture of the Hatfield in the ice off Licking river is a teastament to the brutal conditions of the Ohio in winter.

R. Dale Flick 05-17-2006 03:26 PM

Dear Mike and gang:
So glad M'Lissa Kesterman nailed the CITY OF LOUISVILLE dates for you here in the Cincinnati harbor. She has her hand on the collection at the Cincinnati Historical Society Library for sure. The Str. HERCULES CARREL, as per previous .org discussions, was a fixture here around Cincinnati for years and years. A real hard working girl who appears again and again in photos of Cincinnati. So named after the real live Hercules Carrell of the old days and later involved in the ownership/management of the famed 'Cincinnati Marine Railway' here at Rookwood Crossing on Eastern Ave in the East End. There's one steamboat I would have liked to meet. There are times when history has a mind of its own and the details are dug out. Just takes time, patience and 'steamboat forensics.'

R. Dale Flick

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