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    MORE on the Str. ISLAND MAID

    Being the "curious curator" that I am, Keith Baylor's question regarding the location of the rebuilding of the ISLAND MAID after the 1929 fire got me digging in files. Although I knew the work was done at Howard's, it is not, as Keith mentioned, documented in Way's Directory. I checked the catalog list of Capt. Jim Howard's glass plate negatives and found this notation: "Received in yard 5/6/29. Left yard 6/12/29. This was the quickest rebuilding job ever turned out in the yard. Our cabin gang headed by Al Mahaffey started to work at 6:00 AM and quit at 6:00 PM. Contract called for 40 days and took 36 days. Price was a little under $40,000." There are 10 listings for photos taken at the time of the rebuilding, including am interior view of her cabin/dancefloor.

    The first image herewith, taken 80 years ago, shows the ISLAND MAID departing the Howard yard on June 12, 1929 with the towboat ED J. HOWARD in the foreground. The other two photos are dandy onboard scenes of the roof and pilothouse, one of which shows her calliope. As previously noted, the ISLAND MAID began life in 1909 at Howard's as the G.W. HILL, built for Granderson Winfrey Hill of Alexandria, MO. She originally operated in the St. Louis-Calhoun County trade as a packet. Converted to an excursion boat in 1912, she was owned by Capt. D.W. Wisherd and Sam Gregory. During this time she tramped to New Orleans and Pittsburgh until 1923 when she was sold to the Coney Island Company to become the ISLAND MAID. She didn't last long after the 1929 rebuilding, burning again while on the Madison Marine Ways in December, 1932 along with the towboat FRED HALL.
    Attached Files

    #2
    Keith: Splendid input. I always wondered if that G. W. Hill was named for a local (Covington, Kentucky) grocer of some local fame...not so! Thanks Keith. Cap'n Walnut.

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      #3
      Going plainer in conversions

      What was/were the reason/s for going from a geegawed gingerbreaded style to a plainer style in the 20th century? Costs? current architecture on land? lack of woodworkers? ????? When Streckfus built the all steel modern PRESIDENT, they didn't put a calliope on because it was 'old-fashioned', but then after many complaints, the JS DELUXE's instrument was installed for the 1939 season. So was it the same thinking about the external look of the boat too, simpler was better? or just cheaper???? or what???

      Comment


        #4
        Good stuff, curious curator! Bravo.

        I echo Judy's interest in the plainer appearance manifested in the "Island Maid" rebuild.....same as would later appear as the "Avalon" was enclosed and same as would appear in the "Gordon C. Greene's" cabin.

        Comment


          #5
          Although certainly not as aesthetic, steamboat crews undoubtedly appreciated it when boats such as the ISLAND MAID, AVALON and GORDON C. GREENE went the "Plain Jane" route and no longer were laden with lots of wooden jigsaw gingerbread trim to repair, scrub and paint!

          As a "finale", here are two more ISLAND MAID images -- the first showing her at the Coney Island wharfboat prior to the 1929 fire. The second image shows her hauled out, just after the fire, on the Madison Marine Ways (with the towboat DUQUESNE) before being taken down to Jeffersonville for rebuilding.
          Attached Files

          Comment


            #6
            A good question indeed, Judy. I have often wondered the same thing, and now think it is nothing more than the fashion of the day. As we saw with architecture in the 1960's and 70's, folks went for the "clean" and modern look (read "boxy") for buildings. In the 80's, people regained their senses and began to build with some interesting architectural features. This is seen in housing as well. I think it may also have been a business decision from two different standpoints: a way to attract business by presenting the boats/buildings (and even trains) as "modern". It was also cheaper from a construction and maintenance standpoint. Just fashion swinging from one way to another.

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