Dear Cheryl and Phyllis:
The Str. TACOMA was built at New Richmond, OH., in 1883 by David Gibson for the Cincinnati-Chilo trade. Capt. Fred Way's 'Packet Directory' has a long 'bio' of the boat and he opines she was, possibly, the longest-living packet at 39 years without a name change. Gibson's home survives in New Richmond and was owned by Don & Lela Vornholt. It's something to see at the top of the hill there today.
Capt. Gordon C. Greene purchased the TACOMA in 'shares' with Capts. William E. Roe, Martin Knoll, Jesse P. Hughes and Junius Greenwood in 1904, always based in Cincinnati. Capt. Jesse P. Hughes commanded her for many years and raised his family on her. Jesse also did a fine painting of the TACOMA which his daughter Helen Hughes Prater has on display at the museum in New Richmond to this day. Helen Prater is the mother of Lil Smith who has recently been posting on this web. Helen is spry at 90 and I'm sure, if Lil reads these postings today, can ask her mother for details and 'post' for us.
The TACOMA met her end in the huge steamboat fire here at the Public Landing in 1922 along with the MORNING STAR, ISLAND QUEEN (No.1), and the CHRIS GREENE (No.1). Old timers, until a few years ago, recalled the big fire to me. One was a young Cincinnati fire fighter and told how the fire spread so fast that they couldn't get their hose lines out in time to do any good. The 1922 fire, like the disastrous big ice in the winter of 1917/'18, brought the end of one 'era' in steamboats and heralded another. The machinery from the TACOMA was salvaged, reconditioned and went to the Str. CHRIS GREENE II. I don't know much about the U.S. Marine Hospitals other than my grandmother's older brother was at one of them for a spell following an illness. He was a cheif steward and had been on a number of packets and steam tows--two of them the TACOMA and the HENRY M. STANLEY. Small world.
Silas L. Wood was chief engineer on the Str. RUTH, BUILT IN 1893, Knox Yard, Marietta, OH. She was a sternwheeler with a single stack. In 1910 the RUTH was sold to Capt. Fred Hornbrook and was lost in the big ice at Ohio River Dam 13, January 1918. I met/knew Capt. Hornbrook as a kid when he was living in a Cincinnati nursing facility way up in his 90s. A real character if there ever was one. His collection of clippings, scrap books and photos were classics to paw through. Mention something and he had instant recall--a trait typical of many veteran steamboat people. Hornbrook was known by many of the veteran GREENE LINE STEAMERS personnel Jane Greene and I knew back then. When Hornbrook died he got a big obituary in the Cincinnati papers with a photo. I wonder to this day what ever happened to all of his river collection. I can only assume his daughter and son-in-law are now also gone.
I hope this poor 'rambling' on my part helps.
Cheers and good luck,
R. Dale Flick