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Was This Boat The First?

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    Was This Boat The First?

    Yesterday while finalizing getting the Howard Photo's on the UofL website, I came across a boat I had never heard of nor seen a picture of, the PILGRIM. In the Howard collection there are two pictures of the steel hull being built, but no picture of the completed boat. The PILGRIM was built in 1916, 200 ft. long, steel hull, as an excursion boat. Apparently it ran out of New Albany carrying excursionists to Sugar Grove which was a picnic grounds located 13 miles down river from New Albany.
    In 1924 it was sold to interests in St. Louis who converted the PILGRIM to a tourist boat named HARRY G. DREES. It ran in the St. Louis/St Paul trade with occasional trips up the Tennessee River. It wasn't a success because in 1927 it was sold to interests in Tampa, Fla. and taken there where, apparently, it was an even bigger flop because by 1930 it was gone.
    My question is this....was the HARRY G. DREES the first strictly tourist boat, built and operated for that purpose only?
    Picture 1......the PILGRIM at Madison
    Picture 2.......the HARRY G. DREES somewhere on the Upper
    Picture 3........cabin to the DREES with balcony much like the CINCINNATI
    Attached Files

    #2
    Jim,

    To my knowledge, the Streckfus family had some of the Diamond JO boats running on the UMR doing pleasure trips between St. Louis and St. Paul as early as 1914. Somewhere in my collection I have a copy of a brochure stating as much showing the SIDNEY and I believe the ST PAUL. I could be wrong about the boat names. But the date, I know is right.

    The Greene's did a tourist trip to St. Louis for the Worlds Fair in 1904 with Ma Greene at the helm.

    This PILGRIM wasn't the best looker, was she? Much better looking as the HARRY DREES. That inclosed bow area and lack of a stage must have necessitated landings and loading at wharfboats or specifically placed barges.

    Did you notice the strange forward staircase on the Main Deck to the Boiler Deck? Lots of strange features on this boat! Much like the first JULIA BELLE SWAIN...except she was build for Floridian service...which made sense. This PILGRIM was built for Ohio River service...how odd!

    Travis

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      #3
      Coney Island's first Island Queen (1896) pre-dates this boat, if you mean purpose-built excursion boats. Or are you asking if this was Howard's first excursion boat(?).

      Comment


        #4
        Steve....I meant overnight tourist boat, ie DQ type boat, as Tom Greene used to say "two legged freight".

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          #5
          Tourist boat

          So to further clarify, or muddy, Jim, you are thinking of 'tourist' as an overnight boat that carried passengers only, no freight?
          Using this as the definition, I can speak of the Streckfus boats but won't venture as to if there might have been another from another company predating the DREES.
          As Travis mentioned, Streckfus converted their Diamond Jo packet boats into excursion boats, the SIDNEY being the first one converted. However from 1911-17 the other three ran as packets before their conversion. But they were all built as packets, so that would eliminate them from vying against the DREES as the first tourist boat built specifically as that. Some might think of the original JS, built at Howard in 1901, as a possible predecessor to the DREES. It has been widely heralded as the first boat built exclusively for excursions, but this is NOT true. John Streckfus built it with a ballroom instead of staterooms and planned to run her as an excursion boat evenings after she did her day trade run between Clinton Iowa and Davenport/Rock Island. This route didn't work out and shortly after she arrived in Rock Island, she became a fulltime excursion boat. She carried passengers only, not on excursions, but they were aboard only for the day, no overnight. So that would eliminate her too.
          The GOLDEN EAGLE began as the packet WM. GAHRIG. The GORDON C. GREENE, nee CAPE GIRARDEAU, was built in 1924, after the DREES. So those are out too...

          Comment


            #6
            Unfortunately, I don't have a complete index to The Reflector, but I remember Capt. Way writing about the HARRY DREES and calling her the first tourist boat ever. Seems to me as if Capt. Way ran a full page halftone years ago of her in Tampa.

            In 1930 in an effort to provide tourist service Capt. Way operated the BETSY ANN between Pittsburgh and Louisville without handling freight. The trade was not profitable and only lasted that one season.

            I guess it can be safely said that the Greenes offered the first successful tourist boat service on the Mississippi River System with the GORDON C. GREENE and then DELTA QUEEN.

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              #7
              *RE: Str. PILGRIM/HARRY DREES*

              Steamboating colleagues:
              I agree with Frank's posting above RE: PILGRIM/HARRY DREES. Fred Way was head on with his summation the boat was possibly the first built for total tourist trade. Thanks to Jim for recovering these photos for our viewing.

              I have here one solitary phamplet/ad for the boat from the MISSISSIPPI/OHIO RIVER STEAMBOAT CO. then based in St. Louis found in a somewhat dismal, dusty antique emporium here in town. Jim, that fancy double cabin in your picture similar to the big CINCINNATI came at a price--too much weight with a deeper than normal hull. This 'grounded' the DREES constantly.

              Those out on the Mississippi along with Keith possibly could debate the total tourist angle from the EAGLE PACKET CO. point of view. Even the GORDON C. GREENE ran as a tourist boat for some years carrying a minimum of freight. My understanding the GORDON did this through the World War II years so as to comply for much needed fuel oil. Alan Bates may know more about this legal maneuver. Well, what do I know?

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

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