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  • Judy Patsch
    replied
    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.

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  • Bob Reynolds
    replied
    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.

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  • R. Dale Flick
    replied
    *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

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  • R. Dale Flick
    replied
    *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, "...to 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.

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  • Tom Schiffer
    replied
    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

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  • Bob Reynolds
    replied
    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.

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  • R. Dale Flick
    replied
    *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

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  • Jim Reising
    replied
    If my memory serves me correctly, the wharfboat was made in the 1930's from four standard open hopper coal barges welded together and decked over. Standard barges were 175 ft. long, 26 ft. wide raked on one end. Not many standard barges in service today except on the Monongahela River. Today's barges are referred to as jumbo barges, 195x35 for bow pieces and 200x35 for boxes.

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  • Keith Norrington
    replied
    You guys have reminded me that I have a file folder about the GREENE LINE wharfboat and perhaps the "fodder" for a future Old Boat Column in The Waterways Journal. I'll add it to my list -- THANKS!

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  • R. Dale Flick
    replied
    *GL wharfboat/Weight scales*
    Hi, Bill, Ted, Tom & steamboating collegues:
    Tom, you bet the old GREENE LINE whafboat was big--a real monster measuring in at no less than 300 ft. plus. I pulled archival photos last night taken during the great 1937 flood here showing the wharfboat with possibly the TOM GREENE pulled in front of the wharfboat for protection. I counted five wide freight doors from stem to stern thus confirming my memories of the large black letters painted above each door on the inside reading: CINCINNATI, CHARLESTON, PORTSMOUTH, LOUISVILLE. If one for WHEELING I can't recall now--and I never saw any of them closed. Another big freight door at the end below and the lower open access obove under the offices where the big capstan stood for sparing in and out. For years there was a big pitman arm in storage and a landing stage used before Marion Frommel and his company assembled, welded the present swinging stage. The wharfboat in B/W photos appears to have been painted either white or very light gray with matching roof bearing GREENE LINE STEAMERS in large letters. Later years it was painted a darker color. Capt. Doc Hawley vividly recalls painting the wharfboat with a crew from top to bottom. That was November, 1963 the day President Kennedy was slain. Doc and the men looked up seeing the flag on the top of the Carew Tower being lowered to half mast. Painting that molded metal with deep valleys using a brush a real pain as he remembered.

    On the river side there was a walk way with heavy iron or steel cleats for tying up the boats with ropes/cables. If there was a hand rail for the deck crew I've forgotten. Tom correct RE: the offices on high at the upper end with stairs mounting, lots of flags and other boat relics. Below a long wood bench for people waiting to board and other scalloped railings salvaged from either the CHRIS or TOM. With the DQ along side you went over not by the swinging stage but by an aluminum gangway slid up and back with railings. For a time the ganway was covered in a nice dark green canvas weather awning like the big ships on the Hudson River piers in New York. Ted, I recall one--possibly two--very heavy industrial weight scales on heavy roller wheels with a big flatbed in oak for weighing freight, but can't recall any such actually on the boat itself. Probably something I missed in later years. There were no roof gutters with spouts and during a very heavy storm the water literally cascaded off in a waterfall.

    As mentioned, fresh water came over via a heavy hose from the sloped wharf. How the wires were hooked up for electricity and phones foggy in my mind--but I'll dig out photos. Those very heavy mooring chains linked to rings in the cobbled landing were of very heavy links. Alan Bates, and others, once studied, figured out the weight of each link and the total lengths coming up with figure of great tonnage. Alan always wondered if the long chain lengths alone could have held the wharfbot if they were disconnected from the mooring rings.

    Bill Judd on the money about Doc having the stern line cast free first. Varying on the wind and current, they would put the boat in slow astern to swing out; then come ahead or either backing out to 'round' and aim under the Suspension Bridge. Other times they laid out a number of feet, put her ahead and moved up and then out. Others on here with more 'hands on' experience would know better. It varied with conditions and the 'art' of the captain and pilot.

    The wide gangways at the head and foot allowed autos, delivery trucks etc. to enter ahead and leave astern. A metal securuty gate was secured in the evening when the offices closed. Photos also show a very, very slight sheer in the wharfboat but the main center deck was dead flat.

    Off hand I remember at least five offices on the office deck above with a lavatory. In later years one office was turned into a kind of temporary bunk room for crew if I recall. All offices plain, spartan without the later corporate gloss and fluff look. That's the way it was then. The Greenes were practical, sensible people with no time for prideful ways. All attention and funds went to keeping the boat in tip top condition and working order as she was their only asset. Betty Blake's office directly at the top of the steps when she was in the PR position. Betty did do some sprucing up with nice scalloped window shades on her door in a kind of burnt orange al la New Orleans. I could kick myself now for not taking more photos of the offices back then for posterity. Yet, they were working and I was just hanging around visiting. "They are nice to let you visit but don't you ever bother them when they are working and keep out of the way--and your mouth shut. Always thank them," my mother would say along with 'words' to my buddy Mickey Frey from his mother Dorothea. That indeed was now a LONG time ago. Again, what do I know?

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

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  • Tom Schiffer
    replied
    Dale et al: I seem to remember that there were two big doors on the landing side too. With BIG chains holding the wharfboat in place. This would have been in the mid-1950s. I can remember BUMPING over those big chains in my '37 Ford. I remember there was a stair leading down into the bowls of the wharfboat at the stern end. There were long, STEEP steps leading up to the office and a number of cutesy floats and river "stuff" hanging from the under side of the office. There would be a number of cars parked in the wharfboat...whether pax or crew, I knew not! Never anyone around when I was aboard.
    Cap'n Walnut.

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  • Ted Guillaum
    replied
    Weight Scales

    Dale mentions "There were a number of massive flat-bed weight scales to afix weight and charges for billing."
    How many remember one of these scales on the Cabin Deck bow of the DQ? I suppose it might have come from the warf boat and is probably long gone.

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  • R. Dale Flick
    replied
    *A senior moment correction*
    Hi, Bill,
    One of those now increasing 'senior moments.' The dinner bell was being sounded upstairs with me posting, running up. Letha Greene's office did jut out from the wharfboat for clear visibility. What you really saw was the DQ's port side from bow back. And then there were the big air scoops ocean ship style on port and starboard toward the bow on her cabin deck. Those long gone now and employed in constructing, I 'think,' the river memorial to Capt. Ernie Wagner in New Richmond, Ohio. When you looked down in the gaping maw of the air scoops on the boat, there was a steel grating with a circular hinged wood 'plug' to be opened or closed for forced air in good weather. I recall looking down inside seeing lights, hearing voices in/near the boilers in the lower hold.

    The old GL wharfboat also had it's own supply of new and used lumber ricked up at the stern end opposite the old paint house. There were various sizes/shapes of old and new lumber along with planks, beams, spars, jackstaffs etc. following the adage, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." Well, again, what do I know?

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

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  • R. Dale Flick
    replied
    *Those DQ/GREENE LINE memories*
    Hk, Bill,
    Lest we forget, you were also part of that small group back then long before any DELTA QUEEN Fan Club was launched now a good 50 plus years ago. As I remember you were aboard on many trips from Louisville etc. on up in the pilot house. Seems you also chummed up there with Marion Frommel in the pilot house. And then there was Frank Katz also aboard. The one to watch each time the DELTA QUEEN steamed out was Purser Bob McCann when, by tradition and superstition, he always turned his back away from the boat a moment or two as she pulled away from the wharfboat to ward off bad luck. And he usually had his gold pocket watch in hand with the gold chain to his vest pocket. I thought that quite quaint and odd until years later when I observed sailors in Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Greece do the very same thing when a passenger ship pulled from the pier. In their cases they usually crossed themselves.

    You bet those big silder doors on the wharfboat let the cold winds in. They were gigantic on big steel roller wheels. I vividly recall from the days of packet service seeing paintied in black letters above on the inside: CINCINNATI, LOUISVILLE, CHARLESTON, PORTSMOUTH where arriving and departing freight would be dropped for the roustabouts [later politely termed "freight handlers"]. There were a number of massive flat-bed weight scales to afix weight and charges for billing. At the west end of the big wharfboat was the old GL paint shop hammered together with tongue-and-groove lumber with one or more small windows. This to store paint and related equipment and needs safely. No all paint was carried aboard the CHRIS, TOM GREENE or later the DQ. You could park a surprising number of autos there for people on DQ trips at a now 'steal' price. There were other wonderful steamboat treasures stacked, piled on the wharfboat or stowed down in her hull. Letha Greene's office on the upper end had windows 'jutting' out a bit so you could look out over on the boat and down her starboard side. The Greenes were way ahead of the times with their 'hands on' approach and managemement by MBWA--'Management by walking around.' Expenses were kept under close control with the company check book being kept even closer. In later years, unfortunately, when the management regime changed a funny way of thinking came about over 'pennies' while ignoring the spending of 'dollars.'

    From the time I was a young kid my dad would point things out to me and say, "Observe all of this very carefully and remember it because before long all of this will be long gone." This, besides steamboats, included tent circuses, steam trains, vintage air planes, buildings etc.

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

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  • Bill Judd
    replied
    It is wonderful that Dale can write such detailed history of the DQ and those glory days so that us much younger guys can hear how it was. By the way those big slider doors facing the river could make it very cold. Doc always I heard was on the stern to let that line go first.

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