No announcement yet.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    *Jim's barge dimensions*
    Steamboating colleagues:
    Thanks, Jim, for you nailing down the stats posted above on the barges used in constructing the big GREENE LINE STEAMERS wharfboat here. Tom Schiffer [Capn' Walnut] and I mused over this by phone here the other day and knew somebody would remember and come up with the facts. Keith Norrington's own 'dusty files' should prove a source of even more for his WJ 'Old Boat' articles filling us in even more. Years back the sage S&D REFLECTOR ran the serialized notes from the log books of Capt. Jesse P. Huges transcribed and annotated by the late Capt. C.W. Stoll. I'm too lazy here now to dig out that issue but 'think' I remember a B/W photo of the then new GL wharfboat being towed to Cincinnati after recently being constructed. Keith may be able to nail down if it was, indeed, built by 'Midland Barge Co.' or not.

    A friendly comment here to me asking, "Why all this attention to that old wharfboat?" Capt. Doc Hawley said working on the last big steamboat wharfboat memorable..."a real experience." Doc also claims that our then cobbled Cincinnati Public Landing ranked as the finest on any river in the U.S. The boats themselves--and those who worked on them--interesting, but the nitty gritty of business in the steamboat years important needing much more research than what has been done to tell "the rest of the story." What went on in the home office ['Bean counters'] was what kept the big wheel turning on the river with a known paycheck coming in. And then GL Purser Bob McCann in his office was one confirmed 'bean counter' and stickler struggling over pennies that made dollars. There's the famous story of Bob going in on a Saturday morning to work his books fininding the ellusive fourteen cents. Yes, that's .14 cents. That's the way it was then and had to be.

    A wise old gray head once stated with a wry smile puffing his pipe about steamboat history. "I don't know of any other group or organization like S&D where people get together every year to talk about a way of life that for all purposes was dead by 1930."

    By the early to mid 1920s, the development of interstate highways, dependable tires on trucks, 'door-to-door' delivery of finished goods without the double handling from steamboat to wharf and then on to the customer was the death notice. The type, size, weight of cargo had changed to more bulk with the boats not capable of being converted more for easy handling using more modern fork lifts etc. And then there was the human labor aspect with rising salaries, working conditions, union organization along with the major maritime strikes in the 1930s and then the W.W. II years. A lot changed and changed fast after 1945. Take a long look next time you see a mammoth modern tow going down the river with a number of those closed hopper barges. Well, again, what do I know?

    R. Dale Flick
    Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati


      Right you are, Dale. Of course, the wharfboat was originally to store, sort and protect freight being shipped, which then, as now, was where the real money was. Some often forget that and think only of the passenger trade. I think it is very interesting that some saw the writing on the wall as far as the package freight business and decided to go after the tourist business to utilize their equipment and skills...the Greenes, the Streckfuses and for a while, the Leyhes.


        Dale: Thanks for some real thought provoking info. Changes, indeed! As a teenager in the 1950s we lived on the highway on the big, long, hill coming up out of the Covington basin...known as the Dixie Highway locally. There were NO 18 or 22 wheelers in those daze. Tractor-trailers would grind up that L O N G hill in bulldog. Summertime the driver would often stand out on the running board (remember those?), the truck would be running so slowly. I've had the drivers say to jump on if I wanted a ride...and I sometimes DID! Trucks coming down the hill would backfire making PLENTY of noise. Some of the freight trucks now will pass YOU going UP the hills. Just take a good look at our interstate system...which was built for MILITARY reasons under Eisenhower. We have taken a LOT of the tonnage off the railroads and we are now making a "railroad" out of our Interstates. We've taken the freight off the rails and put a driver in each "boxcar" as a concession to "I want it NOW!". Like you, Dale, What do I know?? Cap'n Walnut


          *BIG trucks/Impact on boats, rails.*
          Hi, Tom [AKA Capn' Walnut] & Steamboating colleagues:
          Yep, those big trucks really have done a number on the rails and former river packet boats. Yet, the long haul rail lines [BNSF commercials on TV] are doing very well on the long western runs and rail isn't dead yet. Rail lines tout, "A ton of freight for 50 miles on a gallon of fuel." And I did ride more than one "running board" on my grandfather's old HUDSON and FORD cars even falling off once scraping my hand in the cinder drive covered with 'klinkers' from the big, old gravity coal furnace in the house with a scar on my left palm here to prove it. There were still then a few horse drawn wagons in our part of town delivering ice, collecting junk and such.

          Even before the paint was dry on the then new DELTA QUEEN/DELTA KING on the Sacramento River, Jim Burns and Capt. Anderson of the 'California Transportation Co' watched the evolution of California highways, trucks, more family autos, new bridges over the bays and estuaries out there. The company in time had to cut the practice of stopping at way or "brush landings" to pick up 'huckster' farm produce from the California growers for, at times, a mere $1.25. This really ticked off the growers who turned to then emerging 'Truck Farming' as we know it today. 'Truck Farming' also big then and now on the East Coast and the metropolitan centers there.

          Jim Burns tried to 'warn' Capt. Anderson and the C.T. Co. stock holders about even thinking of building the then new DK/DQ as the "million dollar babies." Jim was told, according to son John Burns to me, " take on the project building the boats or move on." Jim was too old already then to start over--and the company needed him. Even before the two new QUEENS were finished, the company needed a new infusion of investment money in stock offers to get all moving and completed. Stock was issued and I have here in my 'dusty boxes' several of those stock certificates somebody in my family plunked money in. Again, what do I know?

          R. Dale Flick
          Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River Cincinnati.


            *Steamboat freight paid the bills*
            Hi, Bob & Steamboating colleagues:
            Bob, you're on the money [No pun intended] above with your posting. 'Freight and cotton' on the big Mississippi River 'brag boats' also depended on the cotton business as we learned from the fate of the famed J.M. WHITE and others--all that Gothic guilt, fine woods, fine food [On some of them] and splendor in the main cabins not withstanding.

            Capt. Gordon C. Greene here on the Ohio River was one clever, savvy business mind in time buying/managing a number of wharfboats from Cincinnati up the Ohio River. And there's that old wag often quoted from a farmer along the Ohio River here who, "Thought Capt. Greene owned the Ohio River." Years back Mary Greene-Stewart and I conversed on the DELTA QUEEN. "My grandfather made his real money in the freight business." *Here in Ragtown the rain has ended but the wind picking up and temperatures starting to fall and fast. Cheers!

            R. Dale Flick
            Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati


              Tom, I just finished reading an excellent book on the Interstates. I too had always thought that they were for military purposes, but the book I read pointed out that that was not really the case. On first proposal, no mention was made of the roads having any military strategy, but the measure failed in congress. On the second try, language was inserted in the bill to name it the "defense highway" system, and in the Cold War mentality of the time that did the trick.


                Thread title

                Not knowing how, if possible, to move stuff to a new thread, I added: also Greene Line wharf boat to my thread title, as you have posted some great stuff which would get missed under the Mardi Gras title. If Franz could separate these two topics, it would be great.