[ Future of the Delta Queen Steamboat Co Boats ]

Date: January 13, 2003 at 10:31:54
From: R. Dale Flick
Subject: Part III Capt. Mary B. Greene in the cabin of the Str. GORDON C. GREEN

Part III: 'Consolidation & Adaptation.' [* indicates additional notes/comments out of the Espy text.]

Competition on the Ohio during the latter part of the 19th century was very keen. Gordon and Mary Greene were not ones to be left behind in this race for business. In addition, the GREENE LINE operated three ferry-boats from Gallipolis to Maysville, Kentucky. Twenty-eight steamers sailed under the GL banner from the original H.K. BEDORD of 1890 to the DELTA QUEEN, 1947. [*Gordon Greene had become so famous up and down the Ohio that boat operators and residents along the river sought him out for advice and counsel. One rustic farmer, having trouble with his neighbors, asked Capt. Gordon for advice because he thought, "Capt. Greene 'owned' the entire Ohio River."].

Although many of their boats bore the family's names, no steamboat has ever been named MARY B. GREENE, because of the prevalent superstiton among river men that an 'M' in a boat's name brings bad luck. This superstition, which dates back many years in river lore and which probably started because 'M' is the thirteenth letter in the alphabet, oddly enough seems to be justified by fact, for the number of disasters among boats whose names contain the letter 'M' is larger than among many others. [*Also a certain shade of blue paint was thought to bring bad luck. Some old steamboat men would turn their back at least once while watching a steamer depart a landing to ward off bad luck.]

In 1904, Capt. Greene purchased the WHITE COLLAR LINE of Cincinnati whose official name was the CINCINNATI, POMEROY & CHARLESTON PACKET CO. This nick-name, the WHITE COLLAR LINE came from the two white collars painted on the stacks. This neccessitated moving the GREENE LINE operations to Cincinnati from Pittsburgh. Their wharfboat, moved to the bank opposite 206 E. Front St., Cincinnati, then the home of the 'Cincinnati Insurance Co.,' has been a familiar sight for over forty-four years. [*As of 1948 and until the GL wharfboat was moved and sold prior to the demolition of Cincinnati's sloped wharf leading to the construction of the then new (1970) stadium--now 'imploded' for the new Red's facility. Doc Hawley declared the old cobbled Cincinnati wharf as the finest paved, sloped wharf in the United States.]

As time passed the packets began a losing battle with the railroads and paved highways. Labor and fuel had increased greatly in costs. The side-wheelers were replaced by the stern-wheeler requiring but one set of engineers. The foresighted Greenes had decided to scrap the old steamers and modernize the fleet to keep pace with changing conditions. The TOM GREENE & the CHRIS GREENE were designed and built. [*1923/1925]

No tragic event had marred the serenity of the Greene family life, but in 1927 came a sad blow in the death of Capt. Gordon C. Greene. He was buried in the family plot in Newport, OH., after being transported from Cincinnati [*On a flood] on the TOM GREENE, Capt. Mary at the wheel. [*Wilkins Greene died young in 1907]

The depression of 1929 saw practically every line on the Ohio/Mississippi Rivers go out of existence and even the Greenes with but two packets considered the possibility of abandoning business. Capt. Mary Greene, however, having weathered other depressions, refused to give up her life's work. She had faith in the future of her boats on the river and she believed in the old adage, "Once you ride between two're doomed to ride upon a river craft until you're tombed." Mary felt sure that something would turn up to help her, and it did.

Next: Part IV 'Faith in the Future.'

Respectfully submitted,
R. Dale Flick

[ Future of the Delta Queen Steamboat Co Boats ]

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