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My Favorite Picture of the BETSY ANN

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    My Favorite Picture of the BETSY ANN

    While doing work at the University of Louisville photo archives, I ran across this photo of the BETSY ANN. It was taken by a photographer from the Caufield and Schuck studio who was standing on the newly opened Municiple Bridge (now known as the Clark Memorial Bridge) probably in BETSY ANN experts can probably date the photo exactly with the clues the boat is newly painted and it was taken in Louisville. I believe they only ran one season in the Pittsburg to Louisville trade.
    I like this photo because of the different perspective. Look at the three men standing on the boiler deck who are waving to their friends as they pass the Greene Line wharfboat. I really believe the man in the middle is Bob McCann.
    Hope you enjoy studying this photo as much as I do.
    Attached Files

    *BETSY ANN pic/Tourist trade/Three men*
    Steamboating colleagues,
    By gosh, Jim, you hit us with a good one here showing the BETSY ANN "probably in 1930." Some time back we discussed those years with the BETSY and my posting of information/materials taken from period BETSY ANN travel brochures, folders along with extensive conversations with Woody Rutter, Capt. Fred Way's son-in-law. For the life of me I tried to find just what thread we all chimed in together but can't find it now. I 'think' the discussion came under a posting RE: first tourist steamboats etc. possibly initiated by Jim Blum. [?] Right now I'm too lazy to dig back.

    Yes, Capt. Fred Way, filled with promise and hope, had the BETSY ANN repaired, spiffed up, painted for her entry into the Ohio River tourist trade. This was somewhat novel at the time but did have precedents aboard steamboats going back many years prior. Fred and company had some darned nice promotion brochures printed up on fine paper, graphics, silken cord binding together with seasonal announcements, schedules, itineraries, passenger tariffs from their office in Pittsburgh [Same building where renowned steamboat designer Tom Dunbar had his own office]. Hopes ran high even in the first year plus of the Great Depression. One problem that contributed to curtailing the BETSY's business was not contracting or stopping for the usual compliment of river freight/cargo on her runs with only limited freight stops. By then dependable trucks, expanding road systems were also cashing in with the boats losing out. The Depression also didn't help manufacturers, shippers as before 1929. This, in some ways, proved fatal without the revenue from the usual freight business. In earlier days even the great cotton packets relied primarily on cotton, diversified freight with the passengers being just "the cream at the top." More than a few ran profitably with little to no passenger revenues period--although it did help the bottom line on the ledger books.

    Down to the last years the Greene family and GREENE LINE recognized that, "The freight was what made my grandfather's money," according to the late Mary Greene-Stewart, daughter of Capt. Tom and Letha C. Greene in one of the last interview/conversations I had with her.

    Likewise, I had some suspicions one of "the three men" could well have been the late renowned steamboat Purser, Bob McCann later with the GREENE LINE to the end of his career. Others here who possibly knew Bob McCann please take a long look and see what you think. Unfortunately, the real Bob McCann is no longer with us to verify the identity. Again, what do I know?

    R. Dale Flick
    Summer on the northern shores of mighty Lake Michigan