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Kevin Mullen 05-19-2006 09:19 PM

Is the Belle of Louisville the oldest operating sternwheel boat in the worl
We have often said the Belle of Louisville is the oldest operating sternwheel steamboat in the USA. Could she be the oldest in the world?

What other steamboats, including sidewheelers or propellor, that were built before 1914, are still operating?

Thanks for your insights

Tom Schiffer 05-19-2006 09:56 PM

Kevin: The keel of the screw, or propellor steamer TOURIST was laid on January 2, 1908 by W. Irving Adams and Son. On May 14, 1908 she was registered in the district of Waldenboro, Maine. She was 24 gross tons; 9 net. Her registered dimensions were 45.2' length, 15.3' beam, and 5.4 depth. She was a coastal boat. The Popham Beach Steamboat Company bought the TOURIST on October 8, 1921 and Captain Perkins changed the name to SABINO. SABINO still lives at Mystic Seaport Museum as the oldest coal fired steamer in the U.S. where she takes tourists on cruises. I rode her in the spring of 2004 and she was alive and well. Source: A Steamboat named Sabino by George King, 1999.

Carmen 05-20-2006 01:11 AM


In Norway the SS Skiblander claims to be the oldest paddle steamer scheduled in service launched in 1856. But this is a sidewheeler.


Some say thatīs not really true as the boat was lengthened in 1888.

The oldest sidewheel steamer in Dresden is the PD Diesbar launched in 1884 using engines of 1841. This is the last of the Dresdenī boats which is still coal fired.


All Swiss sidewheelers are built around 1900. At Lake Lucerne the DS Schiller celebrated its 100th anniversary a couple of days ago.

The oldest boat on the Nile River in Egypt seems to be the SS Sudan, a sidewheeler, built in 1885.

A friend of mine is caring for the website called International Steamboat Register. Unfortunatly only parts of this site are available in English:


But Iīll ask him which boat he would call the world oldest operating steamboat.

Iīm not sure about the Australian boats. We have lots of links in our web directory. But as far as I remember all those boats are sidewheelers.

So I guess thereīs a good chance to call the Belle the oldest operating [B]sternwheel[/B] steamboat in the world.


Carmen 05-20-2006 04:07 AM


Here are some more:

SS Tudor Vladimirescu, sidewheeler built in 1854, see here:

[url][/url] (scroll down the left window until you see the name of the boat)

SS Hjejlen, sidewheeler built in 1861, calls itself the oldest paddlewheel steamboat as this boat is mainly unchanged since it was launched


DS St. Georg, the oldest propellor driven steamboat in Germany, built in 1876


SS Ahkera, Saimma River, Finland, propellor driven steamboat, built in 1871, currently out of service, renovations should be completed by 2006

SS Mayflower, Great Britain, propellor, built in 1861, part of a museum, makes some public cruises but no regular schedule

SS Engebret Soot, Norway, propellor, built in 1862, part of a museum, charter only

Sweden has a lot of old propellor steamboats dating back to the 1860ies. The oldest I found in the list is a privately owned boat called Fortuna, built in 1857.

The oldest steamboat in Australia is the PS Adelaide, a sidewheeler built in 1866:


I couldnīt find an older sternwheeler than the Belle!


Steve Huffman 05-20-2006 08:35 AM

The sternwheel Str. BENJAMIM GUIMARAES was built in 1913 and still operates in South America. There are 3 photos of it on Don Sander's web site here: [url][/url]

It's the boat that was mentioned in a posting a few months ago as having a recessed sternwheel, but it's more like a wheel with a boilerdeck overhang.

I don't know of any opertional sternwheeler older than it... The BELLE is so close, it's definitely #2, at least.

Tom Schiffer 06-04-2006 07:41 AM

Kevin: The steam tug BALTIMORE in the city of that name dates, I believe, from 1908 but is NOT in operation. Her machinery and boiler are good but her hull is too thin. There is a fund-raising afoot to remedy the latter, but currently she does not meet your strictures for inclusion.

Steve Huffman 06-04-2006 11:45 AM

I think in Kevin's original posting he was asking for the oldest sternwheel steamboat. I'm guessing by your description that the BALTIMORE is a steam single-screw hawser tug, or ship tender.

Tom Schiffer 06-04-2006 02:47 PM

Steve: He was asking for both...two distinct questions as I read his query. As you say, the BALTIMORE would appear to be a single screw tug. The SABINO is certainly a single screw steamer.

Steve Huffman 06-04-2006 03:49 PM

Ok, I guess I was reading Kevins Thread title: "Is the Belle of Louisville the oldest operating sternwheel steamboat"...

Regarding model bow tugboats with steam-powered screws, I'll add one to the list: HERCULES, 1907. Still operational in San Franscicso harbor:

They also have a sidewheel steam ferry EUREKA there, built 1890, still operational:

Tom Schiffer 06-05-2006 09:29 AM

Steve: Yep, the thread would seem to limit it to sternwheelers. Hope all is going well with you and both of the Barbara Hs. Will be at F'ship all next week starting Thursday; Miss Sharon there starting this Fri, Sat and Sun.

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