Showboat Goldenrod

Illinois River

The Goldenrod was built in 1909 by Pope Dock Company for W. R. Markle. She was originally named Markle´s New Showboat but soon renamed Goldenrod. The Goldenrod claimed to be the last showboat built for the Mississippi River and the last showboat which survived. She is considered the largest and finest showboat ever built being 200 feet long and 45 feet wide. She´s seating more than 1,400 people. In 1913 Markle lost the boat by forclosure. She went on auction and was sold for $ 11,000,--. In 1922 the Goldenrod was purchased by Capt. Bill Menke who run her as 12 months season. She spent two summers at Aspinwall, PA, in 1930 and 1931. In the summer of 1937 the Goldenrod went to St. Louis for repairs. She was moored at the Locust Street Landing until 1962. Until then the Goldenrod visited about 15 states each year.

In 1988 the boat was purchased by the city of St. Charles from Frank Pierson´s heirs who owned her since 1964 and restored her. She was moved to the Missouri River in 1990. The Goldenrod was restored and renovated. She reopened in 1991 as dinner theater with live shows. In 2001 the Goldenrod closed due to financial problems.

Showboat Goldenrod at St. Louis in 2003 

In June 2003 the showboat was given to the Lewis and Clark Landing LC at St. Louis, where the boat now is moored at a storage dock off Gratiot Street, south of the Poplar Street Bridge, waiting for a good idea what to do with her. --> read a special report about the Goldenrod as of July 2003, with many pictures from inside the boat.

The Goldenrod is registered as National Historic Landmark.

While it has been reported that Edna Ferber was inspired by the Goldenrod to write her book "Showboat", it's more likely that Edna Ferber's book actually is based upon the time she spent traveling with the James Adams Floating Theatre. The musical "Showboat" is based on Edna Ferber's book.

Steamboats.org also hosts an extensive paper about history, present and future of the Goldenrod showboat by Asley Weber, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, from April 23, 2003.



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