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Greene Line wharf boat

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    Greene Line wharf boat

    There has been a great discussion going on about the old Greene Line wharf boat, but it is hidden in my Laissez les bon temps rouler title. So check out the great wharfboat info under that title, and maybe we can put additional comments under this title.

    Good move Judy, it was getting lost with King cake and southern foods. Now the facts and just the facts. The wharfboat was built in 1936 by the DRAVO not Midland Barge Co.. Its overall dimensions were 360' long X 76' wide. It was built on 6 flat deck barges set up 3 long by 2 wide, not on the old standards. Hull dimensions were 350' long x 54'. The wharfboat had an 11' overhang on both sides. The building was framed at Dravo, however the steel sheet roof and sides were put on after arrival at Cincinnati. It was towed from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati by the small diesel sternwheeler the COAL CITY.

    I was on this earth when it arrived, being 1 year old knew little of the above but Capt Fred supplied all the above info. I was however involved on October 26, 1968 when the old girl committed suicide just below old lock #37 at Fernbank.

    Let's hear more on this.


      *Good point about the thread*
      Hi, Judy and Bill,
      Good point made about dropping discussions in the right thread and I agree. Who would have thought the initial posting on Mardi Gras etc. would flow on and on. Hope all postings get things rolling here again. It has been a long, cold winter. Cheers!

      R. Dale Flick
      In dismal, dark, cold old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.


        *Those wharfboat dimensons*
        Hi, Bill:
        Tom Schiffer [AKA Capn' Walnut] and I wondered if there possibly could have been six barges for the wharfboat with me opining no less than six. Bill, you no doubt could tell the story of how the old wharfboat "committed suicide" just below old lock #37 at Fernbank better than anybody I know. Not all was removed when they started to tow her down and I know for sure there was a big oak frame casing with brand new boiler tubes intended for the DELTA QUEEN aboard that went KERPLASH in the river.

        Now the next question in the little brown box if you please: Was the GREENE LINE wharfboat in Louisville of similar dimensions and would somebody--Keith?--have any photos? Alan Bates told of watching GL freight being unloaded in Louisville seeing "...the rousters handling a bunch of bath tubs." I recently mailed David Tschiggfrie a photo taken in Lousiville showing autos being unloaded from the CHRIS GREENE down that precarious ramp affair. No possible way that would pass OHSA or the insurance underwriters today. That's the way it was then.

        R. Dale Flick at you know where.


          Greene Line Wharfboat

          This is a great thread and I would love to hear the story about the suicide, pictures, etc.

          Was it raised? What became of what all was on board? Were the DQ boiler tubes recovered?


            *The rest of the story?*
            Hi, George. Glad you've found some interest and merit in what evolved into a much longer discussion on the big GREENE LINE wharfboat than ever imagined. Often "takes a village to tell a story"--at least a good steamboat story. Capt. Bill Judd no doubt the best one to give us the whole story and the final 'funeral rights' for that monstrous wharfboat. Another with minute details of its history would be Capt. Doc Hawley from his position in the 'front office' with the GREENE LINE. I can assure you that big oak casing with those new, unused DQ boiler tubes was never recovered. Yet, I could be wrong until we hear further from Bill Judd.

            The late Betty Blake was running the show with the company at that time. Before her untimely death she gave one fascinating speech at an S&D meeting from the sublime to the hilarious. Her involvement in dealing with that wharfboat when the City of Cincinnati took over the Public Landing here for development had all of us suffering from belly laughs. Cheers!

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


              Question: I remember a stairway down into a barge on the lower end of the wharfboat. Was there one for each of the six barges? WHAT was down there? Cap'n Walnut.


                *Access to the GL barges?*
                Steamboating colleagues:
                Tom, [Capn' Walnut] I'm sure both Capt. Bill Judd, Jim Reising and others could 'confirm' for me that there were a number of access hatches of steel down the length of the GL wharboat. And I also recall once seeing a rubber suction hose with a 'handy Billy' pump and a hatch open. If ever they had to open the access to 'air out,' I can't recall. The stairs you saw I 'think' went down to a storage area where there were more steamboat 'treasures.' Some of this included panels, arches, doors etc. from the CHRIS GREENE. But that's another story with Keith knowing a great deal of it.

                Not to repeat, but it was both Capt. Tom Greene's and Capt. Fred Way's desire that some day the cabin of the CHRIS could have been totally or partially assembled for a display at the Ohio River Museum in Marietta. It would have required a building with even the sloping cabin deck recreated. I have a few Fred Way period letters here mentioning this. Well, time and tide, along with money and the untimely death of Capt. Tom in 1950, pretty much put this on hold with it never happening. Again a case of those 'ifs'...maybes...possible.' I'm only one with my dismal memories here and hope Bill and others confirm the above. As mentioned, I still kick myself pouting and whining I didn't get permission to take more photos of the GL offices on a working day. Again, with me, 'a day late and a dollar short.'

                Now another question from the little brown box: Capt. Judd may know if the GL wharfboat came under the eyes of the Coast Guard? If it did, then why? I know that my late father included the GL wharfboat with his dealings with the City of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Fire Department for the Public Landing. Dad met with Capt. Paul Underwood--and others--offering what assistance they would ever need. Dad was warmly welcomed with a 'walk' of the DQ and the wharfboat, cup of coffee. Another time I went with him being offered a nice ham sandwitch back in the 'cook house' behind the dining room not yet named the 'Orleans Room.' And was it ever yummy. Again, that was a LONG time ago. Well, what do I know?

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


                  Dale, the GL wharfboat likely did not come under the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard, as it was not an inspected vessel and it was a non self propelled barge.


                    Fernbank, 1968.. I'm guessing Capt. John Beatty was involved in this in some way?


                      My last visit aboard the Greene Line wharfboat was in late 1967, shortly after the SHOWBOAT MAJESTIC was sold away from Jeffersonville by Indiana University to Cincinnati and was tied up to the stern of the wharfboat. I well recall Capt. McMurtry's "museum" between the two stairways which led up to the GL offices. Capt. Mac had all sorts of memorabilia including whistles, bells, gingerbread trim and other riverboat treasures on display.

                      Some years ago the late Lucy Stoll gave me a half dozen metal storage boxes containing color slides taken by C.W., beginning in the 1950's. There are numerous scenes of dearly departed river people, as well as images of the DQ, AVALON, BELLE and various other riverboats. I know there are several scenes of the wharfboat sunk to the roof, with GREENE LINE STEAMERS plainly showing. Dorothea Frye talked of visiting the site and of how spooky it was hearing the sunken wharfboat creaking and groaning. She recalled learning that boxes of DQ gift shop stock were left in the hold, including several cartons of the DQ night scene that she painted and of which they sold framed reproductions (about 11" x 14" in size) on the boat.

                      For a future program at the HSM, I hope to have a slide "Riverlodeon" of those vintage views, a veritable scrapbook of life on the river!


                        The rest of the story and answers to George Burch's question. The Greene Line wharfboat was towed from its moorings at the Public Ldg. by Capt. Jim Murphy, who operated several harbor boats under the Queen City Towing banner. It did arrive at its destination just below Fernbank ( old #37) safely. The following morning it was sunk in about 15' of water. The salvage contract was let to Jim Shake and Earl Swim. All the diving was done by my good friend and school mate, Harmon (Sonny) Morress. Nothing was saved, it was literally chopped up with a "chisel" into pieces for scrap.


                          *Wharfboat/Bill Judd's final 'obituary'*
                          Steamboating colleagues:
                          So, George, there you have the final decline and end of that huge GREENE LINE wharfboat from her glory days to the sinking. I knew Capt. Bill Judd could provide the final last rites from his experiences, associations with those involved. Not certain, but 'think' I heard mumblings near the last concerning the condition of the six barges used in its construction as "suspect...questionable."

                          What caused the sinking could have been several things. One account I heard was that one of the large attached ramps for cars, trucks had disconnected in some way swinging back piercing one or more barges. No doubt one or more pierced admitting water and simply sinking 'could' have allowed water to spill over at the top from one to the other. Who knows? I can just assume that the large wood shipping crate with the new boiler tubes intended for the DELTA QUEEN were lost as, possibly, one or more steamboat pitmans, swinging stage etc. Some things had been removed and sent by truck up to a repository building at Fort Ancient, Ohio, under the care of the Ohio Historical Society. Among the bric a brac, I saw steamboat furniture, two pot belly iron stoves from either the CHRIS or TOM GREENEetc. I think with Bill's last rites we can bury this continuing story of that impressive piece of floating equipment--that is unless there's another question in the little brown box. For me wonderful memories but now that is all a LONG time ago.

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


                            All the old-timers in the pilothouse of the DELTA QUEEN who knew much about the origin of the wharfboat agreed that the six sand flats bought for the hull were worn out when they were purchased... and they laid the blame for buying them on a captain I won't name. It was a constant battle keeping those leakers pumped out.

                            But the story of the wharfboat did NOT end with it getting cut up near Fernbank. Nasty, mean remnants ended-up getting dumped on the bank at Madison, Indiana; just below where the DELTA QUEEN landed in a strong current when I was Captain and ..... Ernest E. Wagner was my Mate!