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    Gasoline Boats

    A friend called me last night asking about Gasoline Boats. I know I've read about them in the "Reflector", but I could not recall enough to give her any information. Her family history includes moves in the early 1900's by "gasoline boats" and she'd like a little information on them, description, size, etc. Any help will be appreciated.

    #2
    There's a good intro to them in the beginning of the Steam Towboat Directory, if that's any help.

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      #3
      Joann, there were two gas boats that worked in the Louisville area for years until they fell victim to the Great Depression and improved roads, they were the NEW HANOVER and the REVONAH. They were sternwheel with a big one cylinder "hit and miss" gasoline engine. My dad said you'd swear the engine stopped between each "hit". Archie Johnson, who worked on a couple of gasoline boats, said they would start the engine by putting a match head in the cylinder and then using their body to turn the large flywheel. Like some diesel engines, they could run in either direction.
      These were small freight boats that ran up to Madison/Carrolton area stopping at all the small landing that the large mainline packets wouldn't service (the old RR Jones book showed 58 landings between Louisville and Madison a distance of 44 miles).
      I'm sure Steve Huffman and Keith Norrington know a lot, lot more than I do about these boats.
      An aside....Doc Carr long time Greene Line mate/captain was called Doc because around the turn of the 20th Century he bought a little gasoline boat, hired an American Indian, got a barrel of whisky and went up the Wabash River selling "medicine". They got up as far as Lafayette where they sold the boat and went home because they were afraid facing their "customers" on the way back out.
      Picture from Murphy Library is the REVONAH at Cincinnati
      Attached Files

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        #4
        Jo Ann, they came in all sizes. After the invention of diesel engines, many if not most were diesel powered, but retained the moniker "gasboat". Often the older (rue gasoline powered boats) ones were used on very small streams like up the Tug Fork in Kentucky (a tributary of the Big Sandy) and Kentucky's Green River and its tributaries. Of course they were used other places too, and as they got bigger and more powerful they were used for small jobs and small towing jobs on the Ohio as well. Hope this helps!

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          #5
          Does she happen to have any boat names in her family history, for those gas boats? If so I could look in my notes for more info on specific boats.

          For the past 8 years I've been compiling info to publish a directory on sternwheel gas boats (1893-1954). It's getting close, but not quite ready to publish yet. Meanwhile Jon's suggestion of looking at Fred Way's info in the Forward section of the Packet Directory is a good place to start...

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            #6
            Thanks all for the information and great idea on looking at Way's Towboat/Packet Directory. I have both. She didn't mention any particular boat, so doubt one was named or was lost in the stories handed down. I'll pass along the info you've provided.
            THANKS so much.

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