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Date: January 13, 2003 at 13:30:25
From: Keith Norrington, [66.83.131.6.nw.nuvox.net]
Subject: Requiem for the River Queen


All of these postings about the RIVER QUEEN / GORDON C. GREENE have dredged up a lot of memories. I well recall, as a 13 year old, badly bitten by the steamboat bug, that Saturday in 1967 when my mother had the radio on while she was ironing. As I came through the kitchen I heard the news commentator say, The famous riverboat used in the movie "Gone with the Wind" is sinking on the St. Louis waterfront today." My heart sank like a stone. The Courier-Journal on Sunday morning had a front page photo of the boat with a caption which read "That Sinking Feeling" and showed the boat listing over. I hoped that old boat could be saved -- and I think I even prayed about it at church that day! But it was not to be!
My mentor and patron saint of steamboating, the late Miss Ruth Ferris, was a noted St. Louis school teacher and river enthusiast who was instrumental in saving the pilothouse of the GOLDEN EAGLE after it sank in 1947. After retirement, Ruth was curator of the River Room at the Missouri Historical Society until she retired in 1965. Then, in 1966 she was asked to be designer and curator of a riverboat museum aboard the BECKY THATCHER (ex steamer MISSISSIPPI) at the St. Louis levee. After the River Queen went to pieces due to ice and high water, the tall chair used by the pilot, fell from the pilothouse as the boat tilted over and floated down past the BECKY THATCHER, where Ruth spied it and had a deckhand retrieve it for her museum! That chair (used on the boat during her days as the CAPE GIRARDEAU/GORDON C. GREENE) which shows in MANY pilothouse photos and was even featured on a postcard picture of the pilothouse interior during the time the RIVER QUEEN was at Hannibal, is probably still around St. Louis SOMEWHERE! The pilotwheel was badly damaged and about 3/4 of it was auctioned(along with piles of "stuff" scooped from the wreckage) on the levee in early 1968 for the sum of $140. An UN-glorious end to a wonderful and much loved old steamboat!


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