Sunday, February 6, 2011

Riverboat Week


Good Sunday Morning to you all, and welcome to Mississippi Riverboat Week here at OPOD. We start with this marvelous picture of riverboats, taken near Cincinnati, Ohio. The picture was taken around 1900, and has two, count them, two riverboats. Most of you know that I have always secretly dreamed of being a Gentleman Farmer. My other secret dream is to be a Mississippi Riverboat Captain. With my keen sense of direction, steady nerves, and calm under fire, I feel I have what it would take to captain one of these majestic vehicles. OK, I really don't have a very good sense of direction, but none-the-less, I still feel I could make it in the high flying world of Riverboat Captaintry. 

On many occasions, I have been somewhere that offered a "Mississippi Riverboat Tour". Since I aspire to be a captain, I have always signed up for the ride, as there are still some of these riverboats around. However, on all that I have been on, which have been many, they have all been fakes. By fake I mean that while they have a smoke stack and a paddle wheel, they are just for show . . . there is no steam, and the paddle wheel is not connected to an engine, it just turns in the water as the boat moves. If you ever go on one of these boats, go back and stand by the paddle wheel . . . is it connected to a drive mechanism? . . . usually not, it is just for show, and turns in the water as the boat moves. There is a normal propeller and rudder down under the waterline moving the boat forward. What I have found is that when I take such boat rides, and stand back by the paddle wheel and point out to other people on the boat that the paddle wheel is fake, that there is no steam engine, and it it really just a normal boat dressed out to look like a river boat . . . when I do that, people get mad, and say I "ruined" it for them. It never stops amazing me how people would prefer to believe the lie, rather than know the truth, and have the fantasy they are living in "ruined".

18 comments:

  1. I know what you mean, the fake paddle wheels. You are on a side paddler and the aft of the boat is where the water is getting churned up. I guess it is a lot easier and cheaper to have a boat with a couple of propellers than a working paddle.
    I am impressed with the size of those paddle housing on those 2 side paddlers.
    They are HUGH boats. I didn't realize that they were that big.
    I see that one is named after a State and one is named after a City.

    No domistic update today? I guess last week's was a good one with that great photo of Handsome Jack.

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  2. Roger,
    No domestic update. We were just frozen in all week. We did not thaw until yesterday afternoon. The chickies and peacocks were just trying to stay warm. Nothing to report except we were all hunkered down, waiting for warm weather.
    PJM

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  3. Good morning from St. John's, Newfoundland.

    Magnificent looking boats for sure!

    We have (or had... I haven't seen it in a while, since I don't work near the harbour any more) one of those 'fake' riverboats here in St. John's.

    When I first saw it, I also noted the fake paddle wheel, and with the low sides, it is totally unsuitable for sailing around the North Atlantic. About the only place it can sail is in the harbour.

    I certainly don't understand their business plan but I guess there must be a market.

    The Yukon, in Canada, and Alaska have quite a history of riverboats... over 300 according to one list I've seen. I think there might be one or two still in existence, (and maybe still functioning).

    They are magnificent creations, designed for shallow water commerce.

    Graham

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  4. Graham,
    Thanks for the update.

    Perhaps someone out there can tell us about an AUTHENTIC, LIVE STEAM, REAL PADDLE WHEEL riverboat still in operation. I mean one of the old original ones, still in operation. Then maybe we could rent it, and have an OPOD convention where we all swap tales while riding up the Mississippi.

    PJM

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  5. That's how I feel about a lot of things in life... especially religion.

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  6. I forgot to comment on your weather.
    The only advice I can give is to keep your pipes warm, and if you think they might be freezing, keep the water flowing.
    We have a snowstorm coming in here. We're ready for it.
    Graham

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  7. I hope you have a pic of one of the boats that sailed up the Red and Cyprus Bayou to Jefferson, Texas in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

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  8. PJM, if you find a real paddle-wheeler and put together a OPOD convention, count me in as a attendee.

    Up here in Grand Forks, we use to have real paddle-wheelers that made the trip from Grand Forks to Winnipeg on the Red River of the North. It is one of the few rivers that runs Northward.
    They hauled grain and other commodities up into Canada. There use to be a bunch of big 2 wheel carts that would bring wares across Minnesota to Grand Forks and then they would be put on the boat to be taken up to Winnipeg.
    There were a total 0f 6 different steamboat that made the trip and the last ones were sank in 1912, ending 53 years of real steamboats on the Red River

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  9. Roger,
    Interesting! I live on the "other" river that runs Northward . . . The South Concho River.
    PJM

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  10. There are still three large commercial steamboats in operation: Julia Belle Swain, Natchez, and Belle of Louisville. The Belle of Louisville is the oldest of the bunch.

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  11. I did some checking into the steam boats after my last comment. It seems that in 1878 there were a total of 17 steamboats on the Red River. Some just ran in Canada and some just ran in the States. About that time the railroad built a line up to Winnipeg and that put an end to the building of any new steamboats. And through accidents and varies other problems they were phased out.
    One steamboat was being built in Grand Forks, but never was finished. When I was a kid I remember crawling around on it. It was spooky, and dangerous with the rotting wood. It laid at about a 45 degree angle. It was still there when I moved away in 1952, but gone when I moved back in 1990.
    Isn't history interesting!

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  12. My great-grandfather was a riverboat captain in Louisiana. As he got older, he became blind and could no longer pilot. My grandmother told me that he had a white horse that would faithfully take him down to the docks every morning so he could hear and smell the sounds of the river and be with his friends. The horse would return home by itself, and when it was time for him to get back, they would turn the horse loose and it would go down to the wharves to pick him up. I would have loved to meet him--I bet he had some great stories to tell!

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  13. The City of Cincinnati and the Indiana were sidewheel packets built in 1899 and 1900 by the Howard boatyard in Jeffersonville, Indiana. They measured 300'x 38' and 285'x 45' respectively.

    The Belle of Louisville is the oldest Mississippi steamer in operation today. Built in 1915 as the Idlewild, renamed Avalon in the 1940's, she was converted to an excursion boat in the 1960's and continues to operate out of Louisville today.

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  14. Check out "Steamboat Natchez" in New Orleans. It may be a real steamboat? We took a cruise on one back in the 80's. I can't remember it's name, but it seemed to be powered by the paddle wheel.

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  15. Check out HISTORY OF STEAMBOAT NATCHEZ.

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  16. Your last sentence reminded me of this article. Interesting and sad. http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/10/15/us-gossip-power-idUSL1552064220071015

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  17. The history of the Mississippi river and the river boats that traveled up and down her are a treasure to be explored!Thank you .

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  18. Check this link for information on the Sultana disaster of 1865 -
    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~genepool/sultana.htm

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