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    Riverboat song

    Hello,
    I am a music educator (and steamboat fan) and I am trying to find any information anyone might have about a song from sometime in the early 20th century.
    The name of the song is 'Alton Belle'. It was apparently written by a song writer in St. Louis. Perhaps one of you knowledgable folks knows something about the song or the boat. I realize there is a new casino boat with the same name now operating out of Alton, Illinois, but I need info about the original boat of that name and the song.
    Any information would be deeply appreciated.

    Thank you,
    George Bruner

    #2
    George,

    Neither Way´s Packet Directory nor his Towboat Directory is listing a steamboat named "Alton Belle".

    I do have a copy of Mary Wheeler´s Steamboatin´ Days which has a collection of rustabout songs. But that doesn´t have a song called "Alton Belle" either.

    You might contact Dave Para (Cathy Barton and Dave Para). Maybe he can help you.

    Carmen

    Comment


      #3
      I don't know of an Alton Belle, however there was a Belle of Alton.

      Comment


        #4
        George, perhaps this is what you are seeking. There is a composition entitled BELLE OF ALTON, a polka by Walton Rutledge, copyrighted in 1868. Herewith is an image of the cover lithograph, done by Gast. Moeller & Company, St. Louis.

        The BELLE OF ALTON was built at the Howard Shipyard in Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1868. She was 229 feet long and 34.5 feet wide. She was owned by the Alton & St. Louis Packet Company, Capt. John A. Bruner, Master. She later operated in the New Orleans region and burned, while laid up, at Algiers, Louisiana on March 28, 1871. Her engineer, William Marsh, was charged with arson, but was later released on $6,000 bond and acquitted at the trial. The machinery from the BELLE OF ALTON went into the steamer CARONDELET and the hull of the BELLE OF ALTON was used as a barge at Vicksburg, burning on November 18, 1873.

        I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance. The music is dedicated to Capt. Bruner. Are you a descendant?

        Keith Norrington, Curator
        Howard Steamboat Museum
        Jeffersonville, Indiana
        Attached Files

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          #5
          You can find photos of her in the UW La Crosse Historic Steamboat Collection on line. A link was posted recently, you should be able to find it by a search of this board.

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            #6
            I checked my files last night and, although I had numerous photos of the Eagle Packet Company steamer ALTON (also a product of the Howard Shipyard) I found only one of the BELLE OF ALTON. Quite a unique top on her pilothouse!
            Attached Files

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              #7
              pilothouse fru fru

              I wonder what happened to the crescent moon during a good windstorm?

              Comment


                #8
                The Str. IDLEWILD (today's BELLE OF LOUISVILLE) had a similar crescent moon on her pilothouse roof in this early view of her at Memphis. What's the significance of this? Apparently it (along with her white sternwheel) didn't last long on the "Izzlewizzle", as Capt. C.W. Stoll called the boat, for other photos taken of her not long after show both to be GONE!
                Attached Files

                Comment


                  #9
                  Keith,

                  Seems to me that there was a discussion of that crescent moon display on the IDLEWILD's PH roof some many years ago in the REFLECTOR. One suggestion was that the boat was chartered for some fraternal organization whose emblem included that crescent moon design. I'm not well-enough versed on various fraternal organizations to know which, if any, group uses that symbol. Perhaps the most notable fixture to adorn that PH roof was the fancy spray of electric lightbulbs atop the dome when the boat ran in the thirties. If only that old gal could talk, what stories she could tell!

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