Steamboats 1875-79


Built: 1878, by Howard & Company, Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet.
Size: 309′ x 70′ (including guards), beam 49′, depth of hold 12′, average draft 4′ 10”. Tonnage 2,048.
Engines: Two high pressure lever (from steamer Katie), built by John Davies, Louisville.
Boilers: Nine, iron, built by Jos. Mitchell, Louisville. Diameter 42″, length 32′, pressure 160lbs.
Paddlewheels: Diameter 41′ 2″, buckets per wheel 21, length 18′, width 23″.
Capacity: 9000 cotton bales.

Built for the New Orleans & Memphis Packet Company to take passengers and freight , the ED RICHARDSON was capable of carrying 9,000 bales of cotton. She had a large and handsome saloon decorated in white and gold, and many comfortable and spacious staterooms.

Often described as one the great steamers of the riverboat era, the ED RICHARDSON was dismantled in 1888, and her hull burned to recover iron.


Built: 1878, by Howard & Co., Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet.
Size: 312″ 7″ x 47′ 9″ x 11′ 5″ amidships and 11′ 6″ at bow and stern. Overall length 321 ft.  Overall width 91 ft. (including guards). Average draft 7′ 6″. Tonnage 2,027.
Engines: 43’s – 11 ft.
Boilers: Ten boilers, each 42″ diameter by 34 ft., two 16″ flues.
Paddlewheels: 44 ft. diameter, 19 ft. buckets with 8 ft. dip.
 350 saloon passengers, 7000 cotton bales.

Cost: $300,000

Three boats carried the name J.M. WHITE during the steamboating era. The final one reached the peak of riverboat design in her architecture, engineering and furnishings. Built for Captain John William Tobin, the successful owner of sixty-three Mississippi packets, construction began at the Howard Shipyards in Jeffersonville, Indiana, on September 15th, 1877. No expense was spared and she was launched on June 3rd, 1878.

Considered the grandest steamboat on the Mississippi in the years after the Civil War, she was ornate, commodious and luxurious, with saloon accommodations for 350 passengers. She was also fast. Although Captain Tobin never used a full head of steam for fear of damaging her powerful engines, she easily broke the New Orleans to Vicksburg speed record.

She ran between New Orleans and Vicksburg teamed up with the ROBERT E. LEE (2nd) nick-named “Hoppin’ Bob” and the NATCHEZ (7th). Due to hard times and yellow fever, she never carried her cotton capacity (7000 bales), and high running costs and insurance demands further reduced her viability.

Unfortuantely, on December 13, 1886, she was destroyed by fire while moored at Blue Store Landing, St. Maurice Plantation, Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. Several lives were lost, and casualties would have been higher but for the determination of her clerk G. Wash Floyd, who lost his life saving others. Gunpowder stowed in the boat’s magazine in the hold ignited, sending blazing timbers skyward during the spectacular and tragic demise of one of the greatest cotton queens of the Mississippi.


Built: 1878, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet.
Size: 251′ 3″ x 41′ x  7′ 6″.
Engines: 20’s – 8 ft.

Boilers: Six boilers, each 44″ by 20 ft.

In July 1878, the EDWARD J. GAY was completed at the Cincinnati Railway Co., and towed south by the new J.M. WHITE, running her trials at New Orleans that October. She was fitted with engines from the GOVERNOR ALLEN, and her roof bell came from the BRILLIANT of 1850. She was designed for the New Orleans-Bayou Sara trade, and carried U.S. Mail under contract until January 1880. In 1884 her master was S.S. Streck and she was managed by Capt. T.P. Leathers. On July 30, 1888, she burned at First Street, New Orleans while laid up. She was known as the “mocking bird” due to her melodious whistle.


More boats to be added …