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Date: January 16, 2003 at 06:25:44
From: Keith Norrington, [66.83.131.6.nw.nuvox.net]
Subject: Re: The steamer GOLDEN EAGLE


Dale,
The Golden Eagle was orginally the Wm. Garig, built by the Howard Shipyard for the southern cotton trade. The Eagle Packet Company bought her after their big boat were lost in the disastrous ice of 1918 and converted her into a passenger boat, although she was by no means "fancy". I think she was more or less about the size of the Belle of Louisville. She sank in 1941 at Chester, Illinois, but was quickly raised. There are humorous stories about that sinking, which occurred during "Costume Night" with the passengers all attired in outrageous garb. The boat was run aground on the property of the penitentiary at Chester, with the passengers (still in costume) being taken up to the prison in trucks. It must have been quite a sight! The only casualty of the sinking was a waiter, who was helping passengers cross the stage and was killed when the headline snapped as the stern of the boat settled. The "Goldie" was soon back in service, but didn't run in 1944-45 due to WW II. Her boilers needed replacement but that couldn't happen until the war was over. She was completely renovated by new owners and departed on her first trip of 1947 on May 14th. Capt. Buck Leyhe, her much loved and longtime master was aboard as a special guest. The rudders jammed and she hit Grand Tower Island, ripping a large gash in her wooden hull. Again, she was run aground and all passengers and crew escaped safely. Capt. Buck remarked that he would rather have thrown ten thousand dollars into the river than witness the loss of his beloved boat. The Corps of Engineers removed the wreck, but saved the pilothouse which Ruth Ferris acquired for the sum of $257 and which was on the grounds of Community School (where she taught and was assistant principal) from 1948 until 1961 when it was donated to the Missouri Historical Society where Ruth was then curator of the River Room. I am thrilled to own a small section of the gingerbread trim from the pilothouse which Ruth gave me years ago. It must have a thousand coats of paint on it! Ruth told me to "treasure it like a piece of the true cross." I do!


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