At the top of all the more or less magnificent superstructure of the paddlewheelers there is the pilothouse. From here the pilot had the best overview across the river. So he (or sometimes she) could see sandbanks or other trouble early enough to avoid them.
From the pilothouse there were speaking-tubes to the engine room, a tiller rope to the rudders at the stern of the boat and pedals to ring the ships bell and to activate the steam whistle. Even until early this century the pilothouses had no front window, so the wind sometimes makes it hard to withstand the cold by the pilot. For this reason there always had been a stove in the pilot house, so the pilot didn’t freeze, at least not from the rear side. Also a comfortable lazy bench usually had its place in the pilot house. There the second pilot or any guests could wait or talk to the pilot. Especially the pilots used to talk about the river and told each other about everything that was new about the river. That was important because especially the river-bed of the Mississippi often changed dramatically.