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Request for info: Steamboat Washington (1816)

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    Request for info: Steamboat Washington (1816)


    I am a monument (headstone) maker here in Boonville, MO. A gentleman who was building a steamboat museum just across the river died recently and his wife has come to us for his monument. She has requested an image of the Washington ( constructed by Capt. Henry M. Shreve in 1816) and has only a poorly done drawing. I am the artist at the company and have the opportunity to do a large and beautiful portrait of this steamboat on the back of the black granite monument.
    I am looking for images of the boat to help with my drawings. If anyone could help, I would gladly send well made copies of the drawing or possibly a laser etched copy on a black granite tile.
    Thanks for your time.

    I am not sure there is a realible picture of the 1816 Washington. Edith McCall in her little book "Mississippi Steamboatman, the story of Henry Miller Shreve" did not use a picture of the first Washington. On page 78 there is a nice illustration of the second George Washington, built in 1823. but this boat is much improved over the 1816 addition. Edith does supply a good account of the building of the first Washington. But verbal descriptions might not help in her illustration.



      That is very helpful, in that I can at least not worry about that hidden set of perfect pictures that will haunt me after the artwork is done.
      I will find a copy of the book, it should at least be able to give me a feel for the boat and the era that it was built in.
      If anyone has anything that they think will be helpful (pictures of comparable boats, drawings of the boat details from that period etc.), you are more than welcome to send them my way at
      Mr. Jones, if you drop me a line so that I have your email address, I will gladly send you a copy of the finished work.



        Cemetery Buff

        Steamboat people usually have other interests they get into as well as their boat interests. Trains, the circus, pipe organs, antique automobiles, to name a few, also captivate the steamboat buff, but I can say that old cemeteries have attracted me since the days my grandmother lived in Highland Cemetery, in Northern Kentucky, for eighteen years. Her second husband was a second generation superintendant of Highlands…so nothing suites me more than finding a vintage graveyard and walking around reading, and often photographing, tombstones.

        Dixie, the South, is the best region for this sort of recreation—and a real treasure is the discovery of a stone marking the eternal rest of someone who met their demise on a steamboat. Steamboats killed legions of people, you know, by explosions, drowning, fires, shootings, the cholera, and a variety of other means more inventive than I can imagine. I recall a mossy stone in a deserted cemetery in Southern Mississippi, not far from old Rodney, that read: “Murdered Aboard the Steamer So-and-So”, and others that recalled the explosions of a number of steamboats in that region of the Mississippi River that sent the unfortunate wayfarers to sleep forever beneath the stones.

        Has anyone else found interesting steamboat-related tombstones? I, for one, would enjoy seeing the final version of the steamboat WASHINGTON project posted for all to see.


          Washington image


          Not sure what info on Shreve's Washington was used for the artwok on this stamp. Thought that I'd send it along any way.

          The USPS may have contact info for the artist.

          Attached Files


            The Inland Riverboats Photograph Collection from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has a great array of steamboat photographs. One of them is a drawing of the George Washington from 1820. You will have to click on the "g" and then scroll down to the particular boat. The URL for the site is:
            Inland Riverboats Photograph Collection - PLCHC Wiki

            Robert Gudmestad
            Colorado State University


              Washington vs the George Washington

              Shreves commisioned two early steamboats. The first was known as the "WASHINGTON" built and launched in Wheeling Virginia in 1816. The "GEORGE WASHINGTON" was built and launched in Cincinnati in 1825.

              I therefore think that the stamp image and the woodcut image on the Cincinnati Library site ( ) are not the 1816 "WASHINGTON".



                Str Washington Info

                Mr B

                In "Life on the River" by Norbury L Wayman, there is no image of the str Washington. There is considerable written description of the steamer compared to Fulton' str New Orleans. It compares the design of the two early steamers; its shallow hull; boilers on the main deck; multi decked, etc. The info is on pages 35, 63, 144, 147, 158, 252.

                The description concludes with the first steamboat disaster. The str Washington on its maiden voyage in 1816 while moored at Marietta, OH with steam up, exploded with a terrific blast. According to the account in this book some of the victims were skinned alive by scalding.

                If your interested in copies of these pages, let me know.
                Fran Nash