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    History Repeats Itself

    I read the recollections of Stogie White with much interest. I knew him a little. He was a frequent visitor on the DQ and also on the BELLE in the early days. My mother was good friends with his first wife who lived near us here in Louisville, needless to say, being a divorced wife, she didn't think much of Stogie.
    What I found interesting in the interview was him saying that in 1936 there was a law that come in effect which required automatic sprinkler systems on overnight passenger vessels. Passenger revenues on the CHRIS and TOM were not enough to justify the expense of installing this expensive upgrade so Capt. Tom tore out the staterooms and converted them to strictly freight carriers.
    Sounds familiar as to what is happening today to the last Greene Line boat.

    #2
    *Sprinkler systems/SS MORO CASTLE fire*
    Steamboatng colleagues,
    Jim, interesting account of you and your family memories of Volney 'Stogie' White and all that went with him. I knew of a "divorce" but with no real details and never asked one question. Why? And he was one big 'party animal' as I recall.

    'Stogie's' mention of Capt. Tom Greene nixing the passenger/packet runs with the CHRIS & TOM GREENE in 1936 a major change in Greene family operations. The TOM built in 1923, CHRIS in 1925 were fine boats but unfortunately built at the end of the era where scheduled passenger/freight by steamboats was coming to a quicker end than imagined. Both were fine boats and the 'last hurrah' with autos, trucks taking over quickly. In California Capt. C.A. Anderson had been 'advised' not to consider building even the DELTA KING/DELTA QUEEN due to changing economics, emerging road transport but moved on in the euphoria of the 'roaring 20s.' Everybody got a big jolt when the music stopped with the October, 1929 Wall Street stock market crash.

    The then new 1936 law for 'automatic sprinkler systems on overnight boats' also felt afloat, ashore in hotels etc. The marine portion of the law came following the tragic, gristly fire aboard the steamship MORO CASTLE, September 8, 1934 at sea off the New Jersey coast. The uproar along with increasing demands by the seamens' union felt nationally and internationally. And yes, the Safety At Sea Laws were in existence then as now. More than one older steamboat/steamship line then were hit with the cost of sprinkler and other fire suppression systems as, naturally, many to most built with ornate wood interiors. Some lines still in lucrative business stepped up with the installation; others already on the margin just called it quits laying up their boats/ships or stripping them down for straight cargo handling. Then the big national maritime union strikes about that time hit other companies coast to coast, east to west, north and south like a sledge hammer with the old FALL RIVER LINE being just one. By then the Greene family smelled possible profits with one or more all passenger overnight cruise boats. Thus the GORDON C. GREENE and after W.W. II Capt. Tom's vision for the GREENE LINE in the form of his DELTA QUEEN. Again, what do I know?

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

    Comment


      #3
      I received a rather scathing email about my post. Apparently, the writer thought that I thought the DQ does not have a sprinkler system. I know she does, a state of the art one installed just a few years ago.
      My point of this posting is that two disasters at sea caused problems for river passenger boats. The Maro Castle fire caused a change in the law requiring sprinklers and another deep sea ship fire 30 years later caused a change in law requiring noncombustible construction. The first impacted the TOM & CHRIS GREENE (which were both all steel construction), the second the DELTA QUEEN. That is what I meant by history repeating itself.
      DQ trivia question......did the boat have a sprinkler system when she arrived from California or was the one I saw, when I first rode the boat in 1953, installed at Dravo in 1947?

      Comment


        #4
        *MORRO CASTLE/Sprinkler systems*
        Morning, Steamboating colleagues,
        Jim, good questions above and I don't know off hand--but have papers, letters, interior photos here before and after the DELTA QUEEN arrived and was taken to DRAVO in 1947.

        My thinking, either right or wrong, was that the DQ, still in operation at and after the MORRO CASTLE fire at sea off New Jersey in the 1930s, had sprinklers installed. John Burns, while here at my home, never mentioned it and I forgot to ask. What the U.S. Navy required during her years ferrying troops on San Francisco Bay would be another matter. No doubt any presently existing sprinkler system on the DQ would still need to be thoroughly inspected or even updated. I thought I read in the various news articles and releases recently where the sprinkler system was one item to receive attention. No argument or debate there as it was stated clearly in black and white. Any sprinkler system in buildings and facilities ashore and afloat are periodically checks/evaluated as per requirements by insurance underwriters. No doubt Capt. Bill Judd knows far more with all his years of experience on the rivers and in marine survey work. We shall see.

        The Str. TOM GREENE was built in 1923 at 'Marietta Manfucturing Co.' Pt. Pleasant, W.VA. Str. CHRIS GREENE built in 1925 with her steel hull done by 'Ward:' then fnished at 'Gardner Docks,' Pt. Pleasant W.VA. They both were state of the art steamers at the same time the L&C LINE finished the huge CINCINNATI in 1924. Again, these boats, along with the DELTA KING/DELTA QUEEN, CAPE GIRARDEAU came at the very end of an era. Expansion of auto and truck use, dependable vehicle tires, extensive construction of roads and highways soon spelled the end. People often assume it was the railroads that killed the packet boats. True and not true to a point. In many cases records show the packet boats and railroads often had a partership if not financial investment in both. The Great Depression following October, 1929 with all its social, political, economic factors hit hard as did the then disastrous maritime strikes coast to coast at the same time.

        I know the hulls of the CHRIS & TOM were of steel but the upperworks and cabins were of wood. How the Greenes strengthened, reinforced their decks to handle those autos something I don't know. Again, Capt. Bill Judd may recall. The then new prevailing sprinkler system laws in the 1930s also hit other boats, ships on our coasts, Great Lakes, rivers east and the ocean. Again, what do I know?

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

        Comment


          #5
          Dale, you might check, but I know the decks of both boats were steel as I believe were the superstructures. I don't have my Ways Directory close at hand.

          Comment


            #6
            *CHRIS & TOM's steel decks?*
            Hi, Jim,
            I pulled WAY'S PACKET DIRECTORY as I usually do going to the true sources. Fred gives the boats their full 'bios' mentioning the steel hulls but nothing about their upporworks. 'Period' interior photos interior and exterior 'seem' to be wood. Interior cabins were wood as was her cabin deck. GL Purser Bob McCann would know in an instant. Frank Prudent may also know. The exterior and interior wood could have been secured with studs over the steel. No matter what, the then new prevailing fire laws/spinkler system and the disppearance of packet passenger and freight business almost within the twinkling of an eye the real morphine that knocked a rapidly disappearing out cold. Steel or not under that wood would still require a sprinkler system with crew and passengers. Steel contsructed boats then also got hit with the regulations. Then an ever bigger culprit just as dangerous came about in later years with the serious health threats from asbestos insulation in bulkeheads, around piping and electrical lines. I'll keep checking.

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

            Comment


              #7
              Tom and Chris

              I'm not Bob nor Frank, but I have stayed at a Holiday Inn.... the TOM was used by Walker Boat in Paducah for many years as a landing barge/storage. I was aboard it during one of my DQ trips in the late 70s. Her first deck bulkheads and beams were intact and they were steel as I recall. Keith and I climbed around her in her last moments at Melbourne KY next to the CHRIS' hull, and I think there was still some stuff above the hull attached. I know I won't find those pix tonight, but if Keith is reading, he'll have them in an instant.

              Comment


                #8
                Eureka!

                I did a 'search' on .org and found the posting about our visit and 2 of Keith's pix of the TOM and its steel beams.
                http://www.steamboats.org/forum/stea...eene-hull.html

                Comment


                  #9
                  As you know the hulls of the Tom and Chris were steel some the decks were steel under the boilers and machinery sides of the cabin back by the engine room are steel. The boiler deck was steel but the rest of the boat was wood. When the Chris burned in 1967 in Dayton all that was left was the steel hull the boiler deck had fallen down on to the hull. The Tom boiler deck was in decent shape when we got her at least didn't leak from rain water but the hull was in worst shape after being moved and going thru ice so that led scrapping her out. I hope that answers your question.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thanks Bob

                    Thanks for clearing this up definitively, and thanks for allowing Keith and me to visit the CHRIS several times and the TOM just before her scrapping. Those were memorable times for a couple of steamboat buffs.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      The mystery deepens,,,thanks to the Murphy Library,,,,,here is a picture of the construction of the main cabin and it is all steel. I remember seeing the TOM GREENE's hull as a car carrier and it still had the steel boiler deck on it.
                      Attached Files

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Another construction picture of the TOM GREENE, The transition from wood to steel didn't happen overnight, it evolved. Howards build several boats which had a "composite" hull...steel sides with wood bottom. By 1910 Howards was pretty much strictly all steel hulls. The GORDON C. GREENE was all steel from the hull up to the boiler deck as was the SPRAGUE,
                        Attached Files

                        Comment


                          #13
                          *TOM/CHRIS with steel and wood*
                          Steamboating colleagues,
                          WOW! gang, you are really coming up with some incredible stuff here. Judy, I do 'now' recall seeing the photos you and Keith took with the steel members on the TOM after I dug in my foggy brain. I wondered if Bob Harrison would chime on here with his information. For years I saw daily the CHRIS docked over in Dayton, KY, I think,' from Eastern Ave. and Columbia Parkway on this side of the river. She was diminished but sill had that steamboat look.

                          The metal along with wood sounds right. Now I wonder if any of the overheads, bulkeads etc. had any insulation if at all? No matter if steel with wood or all steel--the then new prevailing sprinkler system requiements could not be ignored with passengers crew etc. By the time the CHRIS & TOM were built steel was becoming in use more along with being cost competitive. Fine lumber so required for boats was becoming scarce and very expensive. The Greenes were thinking ahead. I pulled out B/W photos of the then new big sidewheel CINCINNATI of 1924 but can't determine any sprinklers--and I doubt it. Then comes the use of these new so-called fire-retardant 'untumescent paints' but that's a whole different story. Thanks gang!

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

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Dale...the CINCINNATI wouldn't have required sprinklers since the requirement didn't become law until 1936 and by that time the overnight passenger boat CINCINNATI was long gone...Well on its way to becoming the excursion boat PRESIDENT.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              the PREZ

                              She actually had been the PRESIDENT for 3 years by then in 1936.

                              Comment

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