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Farewell MIKE FINK

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  • R. Dale Flick
    replied
    *Things were different back in 1947*
    Hi, to both Lexie and Bob,
    Bob offers great information from his professional experience and view. Things were possibly a tad different in 1947 compared to 2013. Capt. Bill Judd could possibly also offer more insights from his own experience. I do know that the present big 'blue water ships' have one or more technicians/engineers in their departments dealing with fuel fumes or fumes from cargo. The U.S. Navy also follows these guide lines.

    We live in a world of "what if's...possibly...could...perhaps...should have known," in hindsight. Who knows? The ISLAND QUEEN disaster was, possbily, a case of 'time and place, set and setting.' When the steamboat MOSELLE exploded her boilers with a tragic loss of life near Fulton in Cincinnati, April 25, 1838, a commetary was penned in newspapers of the day. One comment that has stuck in my mind was, "Oh, that instant!" The 'circumstances' with the MOSELLE was the result of men.

    Benjamin Disraeli, England's Prime Minister during the Victorian era, wrote a fine commentary I think fits many situations similar to the ISLAND QUEEN, TITANIC, HINDENBURG, ANDREA DORIA--possibly Pearl Harbor, 1941. "Man is not the victim of circumstances. Circumstances are the 'result' of men." In this case "man and men" refering to the human species. Well, again, what do I know?

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

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  • Lexie Palmore
    replied
    Another Question

    Quote from Dale: In later years I heard GL Purser Bob Mcann, pilot/captain Jesse P. Hughes talk about the problems the IQ had with vapors from nearby oil bunkers filling the compatment where the explosion, ingnited by the welder spark above repairing a railing stancion, set the chain reaction of explosions when the powerful vapors were hit with sparks. My neighbor here on Burney Lane was Sue Pattison-Hoebel, daughter of Capt. Ben I Pattison. Sue repeated nearly the same story.

    This begs the question: Did anyone ever mention fuel fumes on the President? Did she burn bunker C while under steam, as I presume did the IQ?

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  • Bob Reynolds
    replied
    Dale and Frank: All the above very true. And while we all bemoan the fact that the "government" intrudes into our lives, it's stuff like this that starts it and makes me glad they do. Government-mandated safety laws are intended to and do prevent accidents such as this. On any vessel nowadays, no one would dream of doing any welding without a gas-free certificate from a Marine Chemist. Any and all licensed personnel know this and in fact are tested on it as part of the licensing process. While shipyards, marine chemists, welders, etc. are expensive, I bet getting that gas free certificate and having a professional welder do that work would have looked like the biggest bargain in the world in hindsight to the owners and operators of the ISLAND QUEEN.

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  • R. Dale Flick
    replied
    *Fred Dickow/IQ in December, 2013 REFLECTOR*
    Steamboating colleagues:
    Frank Prudent's memories of the last ISLAND QUEEN and her Chief Engineer Fred Dickow carries the above discussions forward more. David Tschiggfrie, editor of the S&D REFLECTOR, did a full photo essay in the September, 2013 edition titled 'More Views of the ISLAND QUEEN,' Pgs. 39-43 with related comments by John Fryant. Fred Dickow was Chief on the IQ the entire time she ran and, "...helped install her engines and machinery." Pg. 39 shows Fred Dickow and steamboat boiler inspector Harry Fletcher inspecting the IQ's boilers with a 'picture worth a 1,000 words.'

    Frank's late dad, Bill Prudent, knew better than most the explosive nature of oil fumes being "...more volatile than the oil itself." This true for other chemicals and substances once mixed with oxygen. Old time lumber and flower mills, paint and varnish works were often prone to massive explosions with one spark igniting all those molecular particles.

    When the sister steamboats AMERICA & UNITED STATES met in a disastrous collision, Dec. 4, 1868 above Warsaw, KY., the ensuing insurance case engendered a vigorous debate on whether the loss "was by fire or collision." Casks of spirits and other vaporous items added to the fire when the boats struck. The original papers on that case I have here concluded that the collision resulted in sparks which caused the fire; thus "loss by fire only." The then U.S. MAIL LINE had reduced their insurance coverage on fire loss claiming the issue was "loss by collision"--which they did have coverage for. It became a legal debate until experts were solicited for their expertise. "Collision or not, you can't have a fire without a spark," ended the paragraph. Then they debated on just what constituted a "spark?" Well, what do I know?

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

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  • Shipyard Sam
    replied
    That's great news... watch for an upcoming re-opening of the MIKE FINK, soon, on the Newport side where all the excitement is.

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  • Frank X. Prudent
    replied
    Chief Engineer Fred Dickow was welding a stationary on the main deck right above an empty fuel tank when he accidently cut into the fume filled tank, and that was all she wrote. Dickow's remains were found two days later in the river. Dad more than once stated that oil fumes are much more volatile than the oil itself.

    A few years ago "Doc" Hawley, Vic Canfield and myself were on a tour of Cincinnati cemeteries to look at river related graves. We searched out the final resting place of Fred Dickow in Cincinnati's Vine Street Hill Cemetery, and all gathered lowered their heads in a silent prayer above the Dickow plot.

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  • R. Dale Flick
    replied
    *ISLAND QUEEN explosion pictures, 1947*
    Steamboating colleagues:
    Keith is on the money RE: those incredible 35 mm. color slides taken when the last ISLAND QUEEN exploded in Pittburgh, Sept. 1947 viewed years ago at a big MOR dinner program on the MIKE FINK. Karl Smith obtained the pictures from a man who was there that day with a camera in hand. Karl and his wife lived down the road from me here on Sutton Ave. near CONEY ISLAND. When the new highway extension came through their house was sold and demolished. I lost track of them and am certain now they are long gone. More than a few people showed interest in those photos. Karl would never allow them to be copied. Rick Kesterman is on staff at the Cincinnati Historical Library and I'll inquire about the slides next Monday at club. I'm sure those shots taken would possibly today win a photo journalism award if not a Pulitzer prize in photography.

    Another irony was that at the same instant veteran calliope player, Homer Denney, was off the boat touring Pittusburgh when he aimed his own B/W camera from atop the incline on Mt. Washington across the river just as the IQ exploded. His series pictures received wide exposure in Cincinnati and other newspapers around the country.

    That September 1947 into 1948, the DELTA QUEEN was undergoing remodeling/renovation on the nearby ways at DRAVO. 'Overtures' were dangled to Capt. Tom Greene to, perhaps, sell the DQ for possible conversion as a replacement for the ISLAND QUEEN. For various reasons, the plan died aborning with the DQ being finished for service. Again, the DQ survived with another of her nine lives. Ed Schott, CONEY ISLAND head honcho, by then "had his fill" of any plans for a new CONEY excursion boat and backed off. Times were changing after World War II with the increasing family autos, city suburbs expanding, fleets of Cincinati Transit buses now serving the park, declining ridership on the ISLAND QUEEN impacting the bottom line on the CONEY finance books. All the rest, as they say, is history.

    In later years I heard GL Purser Bob Mcann, pilot/captain Jesse P. Hughes talk about the problems the IQ had with vapors from nearby oil bunkers filling the compatment where the explosion, ingnited by the welder spark above repairing a railing stancion, set the chain reaction of explosions when the powerful vapors were hit with sparks. My neighbor here on Burney Lane was Sue Pattison-Hoebel, daughter of Capt. Ben I Pattison. Sue repeated nearly the same story. She gave me many items and ephemera from the ISLAND QUEEN from her father. Capt. Ben not only worked for GREENE LINE but also on the ISLAND QUEEN. He was a member of the Coast Guard and also a then officer in the Steamboat Inspection Service.

    As long as I live, I'll never forget those trips on the ISLAND QUEEN from the foot of Broadway and back with my family. At night she would steam up and down passing Coal Haven Landing and St. Rose Catholic church on Eastern Ave. with her lights glistening on the dark water like a thousand diamonds. That was a long time ago. Well, what do I know?

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

    Leave a comment:


  • Keith Norrington
    replied
    Karl Smith's River Photography

    Dale: Perhaps you are referring to some other images, but I do recall some fabulous (and terrifying) pictures of the ISLAND QUEEN ablaze, shared at the MOR dinner meeting aboard the MIKE FINK in 1977 by Mr. Karl Smith. He was a photographer par excellence and had earlier shown those duplicated slides at the 1972 S&D meeting. Now long deceased, I am not positive, but thought his collection went to the Cincinnati Historical Society.

    I corresponded and exchanged Christmas cards with Karl Smith for some years and he sent me some of his excellent river pictures, including a dramatic scene of the GORDON C. GREENE in the snow. Another was of the steam towboat RENOWN (later the wharfboat for the BELLE of LOUISVILLE) passing the ISLAND QUEEN in the Cincinnati harbor. Several of these are prime candidates for my Old Boat Column in The Waterways Journal!

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  • Bill Judd
    replied
    Frank don't worry she just goes across the mouth of the Licking to Newport.

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  • Frank X. Prudent
    replied
    I noted today, 18 November 2013, that the stage for the MIKE FINK has been unshipped and docks and dining barge that were alongside have been moved. I guess the "Old Girl" will be leaving her long time landing shortly. Since it's currently 1648 EST and there's a good breeze blowing, my guess is that by this time tomorrow she'll be at a new and hopefully temporary home.

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  • R. Dale Flick
    replied
    *MIKE FINK in CINCINNATI ENQUIRER*
    Steamboating colleagues:
    Frank Prudent is on the money [No pun intended] RE: the great "$10 lunches on the MIKE FINK" during her former days of operation in Covington, KY. Frank one of a number of us on this web who remember the fine MOR meetings held several times aboard the FINK in the upper deck area enclosed with glass giving a perfect view of Cincinnati's buildings and lights across the river. Those were big dinner/program affairs with a large crowd attending going up the stern gangway or via the lower interior deck spaces. Frank's immediate residential area in Covington a classic in rebirth with wonderful historical architecture, views of the river totally astounding. Our Cincinnati tax dollars have been well spent on this side of the river giving northern Kentuckians some great skyline views. Meow...Meow.

    Frank, do you recall the night when we all viewed those incredible color 35 mm. slides somebody took of the explosion/burning of the last ISLAND QUEEN, September, 1947? From the moment of the initial explosion to her burning with many of the IQ survivors seen swimming the the water for rescue with later DELTA QUEEN Capt. Earnie Wagner among them. The photographer happened to be in the immediate area and quickly turned his camera on the unfolding disaster. I remember Mrs. Letha Greene, engineer Charlie Dietz and wife Claudia there with us. I'd give a pretty to know what ever happened to those slides. Ben Bernstein and wife Shirley hosted us with Shirley coming around with an additional big basket of treats as a second dessert. The FINK also had a great seafood bar with shrimp, crab, lobster, oysters, prawns etc. on ice.

    The CINCINNATI ENQUIRER article of Wednesday, October 30, 2013, written by Dave Malaska, Frank referenced well done with additional details and projections. I'm carefully typing in the access here and, if we're lucky, it should open to read the entire text. Access: news.cincinnati.com/article.../310290107/Mike-Fink-restaurant-must...

    Give it a whirl and see if you can find the article.

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

    Leave a comment:


  • Tom Schiffer
    replied
    Memory is kinda dim, but we moored MISSIE there a couple of times for lunch and ate there during Tall Stacks. I've started steamboat races with my cannon off her docks. One wonders where the Covington Fire Dept will dock their fire boat when she's gone?? This summer when steaming past in MISS BLUE, we saw the fire dept doing their periodic testing of their fire boat. In October 2008, when saying goodbye to the DELTA QUEEN, John Fryant and I steamed by the FINK in MISSIE and opined at the time that it did not look like they would be ready for the next season's opening. She's remained cold since. If I remember correctly, she had then (2008) recently come back from getting a new hull. Cap'n Walnut.

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  • Frank X. Prudent
    replied
    Today's Enquirer further reports that the Bernstein family eventually hopes to return the boat to her Covington landing. Apparently, the FINK has not been sold, but is going to be laid up at some unspecified site for at least the immediate future.

    Living only a couple of blocks away, I hope her hiatus is short lived, and she returns in quick order. The FINK certainly was an asset to the neighborhood while she was here. I miss walking down to her and being able to order a delicious hot lunch for under $10.00!

    Leave a comment:


  • Steve Huffman
    replied
    I guess Cincinnati Local 12 News didn't cover this story, or I missed it. Thanks for passing it along. Sorry to see it go. I didn't see it advertised for sale in any of the usual publications.

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  • R. Dale Flick
    replied
    *Future of the MIKE FINK*
    Morning, Steamboating colleagues:
    There are some days when you get one report of bad news after another with yesterday and today being two such. Again, the 'whatever' going on with the MIKE FINK, as Frank initially reports above, no real shock or surprise. There was some activity going on aboard her with painting and other work but then...?

    Judy is right on the money RE: "...extra expenses a land-based restaurant doesn't have." Weather and river conditions now-and-then closed the FINK down from days to even weeks. The work done on her hull also had her away from Covington a considerable length of time. When finally returned, that and other interior work inside ran her budget up and up. As stated in previous postings on steamboat/river theme restaurants, the dip in the economy, changing eating habits hit her hard. Once patrons stop patronizing they usually never return; this one of the rules of any restaurant/bar business.

    Judy jolted my dismal brain remembering the group of us who ate there following the funeral for Dorothea Frye that bitterly cold but brilliantly bright winter day.

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

    Leave a comment:

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