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I have Captains logs from 1878-1880 for the Steamer John Porter

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    I have Captains logs from 1878-1880 for the Steamer John Porter

    I have two steamer Captains logs from 1878-1880, what is the best way to preserve the logs and or share the logs with the community. Is there any interest in seeing the logs?

    *Logs for Str. JOHN PORTER the 'plague boat*
    Morning, Mike Smith and Steamboating colleagues:
    Mike, my eyes bugged reading your posting above RE: "logs from the Steam towboat JOHN PORTER." What you have a real 'find' in the area of steamboat history and that of medical epidemeology. I'd strongly suggest--if needed--you take those logs to a certified book restorer for an examination, cleaning, possible 'de-bugging' if there's any indication of book mites. Often then paper was acid infused which later causes staining and deterioration. In the past I posted on .org about the JOHN PORTER having found records, letters here describing her 'voyage of horror' when she sailed up the Mississippi/Ohio Rivers bearing dreaded yellow fever or, as termed then, "Yellow Jack." Some 23 of her 31crew died of the infection aboard along with another 51 dead in Gallipolis, Ohio. They will never really know how many died with yellow fever coming ashore, spreading at different river towns and cities. I also have the letters and paper/speech written by Dr. Lawrence Carr, then a very young physican from the Cincinnati Board of Health, who was sent to ride the boat up to get things under control as best he could fumigating with sulphur candles, carbolic acid, lime. His memories and the story worthy of a documentary. Dr. Carr, later a specialist in tropical diseases, was a member of my Literary Club here in Cincinnati. He died in the early 1920s and had met, known Mark Twain and General George Pershing from his time as a medical specialist in the U.S. Army. Dr. Carr moved on to be a specialist in tropical diseases in Louisiana, Cuba, Philippines.

    I'd also see to having each page of those journals carefully archivally scanned and copied for preservation on an archival copier that doesn't bend back or stress the spine, bindings, pages. Capt. Fred Way in his WAY'S STEAM TOWBOAT DIRECTORY gives the PORTER a big blow on Pg. 129, Entry No. T1434. *There is a variance in dates from your dates as Capt. Way records the PORTER as the years 1877 - 1879. For years the metal 'rocker arm' that was broken on the PORTER was on display in Gallipolis, Ohio until stolen by vandals. I saw the artifact back in 1962 when aboard the DELTA QUEEN, but no idea if it was ever recovered. That was a LONG time ago now when I saw it.

    The PORTER was a virtual pariah as she steamed up the rivers looking for a place to land with locals fending her off with rifles. Journalist Will S. Hayes wrote at the time, "Anybody who even laid eyes on the PORTER was run out of town." Dr. Carr escaped with his life before being slipped back to Cincinnati by the captain of the famed sideweeler TELEGRAPH secreted in a cabin. The PORTER was towing empty barges that had some water in them along with carrying the mosquitos which bred in it all the way up. Isolation and fumigation were not totally understood then in disease control. The barges were finally burned to kill the contagion. The transmission of yellow fever and even choera were just then being studied and understood. I'd suggest your logs could find a safe home in a museum or archive. Fred Way wrote of the PORTER incident in his S&D REFLECTOR, September, 1965. Since then I found Dr. Carr's actual words with me sending along to David Tschiggfrie, Editor of the current REFLECTOR, fleshing out more of "the rest of the story." I've no idea what the logs would be worth. Worth would depend on how much detail of the tragic voyage is written in the logs. At times people often get excited seeing $$$ in such discoveries, which isn't always the case. Again, what do I know?

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



      I am currently doing a research paper on the John Porter. Is there any way that I can access these logs? Do you have transcripts or scans of them? How about a picture of the John Porter vessel? I am dying to learn more about this steamboat and any more information that you could send my way would be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you again for posting this and I hope that you got those logs preserved. If you are not interested in keeping them for yourself, perhaps you could donate them to one of the steamboat museums? They are truly a great find!!!

      John Castaldo