The Steamer Brilliant Allegheny
Both of the RPPCs above were produced from very old photographs (in the 50s for the Brilliant and somewhere between 1918 - 1930 for the Allegheny). The Brilliant was built in 1848 and made the Cincinnati to Pittsburgh run. This wooden-hulled side wheeler set a speed record, for then, of 1 day, 21 Hours, 46 minutes. It was dismantled after only five years in 1853. The Allegheny was built in 1852 and also entered the Cincinnati to Pittsburgh run on March 16, 1852. Stephen Foster was a passenger on the first trip to Cincinnati. Captain Batchelor took the boat to Louisville and made a "speed trip" to Cincinnati on May 27, 1852. The record time stated on the card (9 hr. 50 min.) differs from Frederick Way, Jr. time in his Packet Directory which is 10 hr. 5 min. The steamer Telegraph 2 had held the record (horn). She was sunk by ice in the Mississippi River in November of 1857.
This postcard shows the General Lytle that was built in 1864 for the Cincinnati - Louisville Mail Line run. In 1866 she exploded with the loss of 30-35 people. She was rebuilt and ran until 1879 when the Lytle hit an obstruction and sank 14 miles south of Cincinnati. The hull was used as a wharfboat at Ludlow, KY.
The next card is rarely seen. It shows the cabin area of an unnamed steamboat. On a packet the cabin ran the length of the interior of the passenger quarters on the boiler deck. They were usually painted white and were trimmed in gilt and adorned with turned wood columns and jig-saw work. On either side of the cabin were the stateroom doors, and overhead were glass skylight panes. The forward end was designated the men's cabin where the bar was located, while the aft end was the ladies cabin which was carpeted and terminated in a huge gilt-framed mirror. The cabin served the dual purpose of a lounging area and dining hall. The top image is a postcard, the other interiors are photographs.
The first image above is of the interior of an unknown steamboat. The second image is of the tunnel shaped cabin of the J. W. White. It had a Brussels carpet, opulent light fixtures, and a piano. The third image is the cabin of the Queen City with the table set for dinner. The last image shows passengers keeping warm around a pot bellied stove. You can see a cord laying on the deck leading from the camera to the man with his back to us. He was probably the photographer.
The first two images show the cabin of the Grand Republic, the largest and most lavish steamer built after the Civil War. This palatial boat, built in 1876, arrived in Cincinnati on its maiden voyage. So many people came aboard to see her that the Captain left early, concerned that the lush carpets would be soiled. The last photograph was taken aboard the Henry M. Stanley in 1900.
The first image above shows the crew of the steamboat Courier seated for dinner. The open stateroom doors on each side show the bunk beds inside. In 1897 the 2nd image was taken in the cabin of the Bonanza. The 3rd photo shows the cabin of the steamboat City of Cincinnati.
The Avalon was built in 1914 as the Idlewild in
Pittsburgh for the packet and excursion trade. Her longtime masters deathbed
wish was that the boats name be changed to Avalon because that was the name of
the boat he had started his career on. Her name was changed in 1948. In 1950 she
was purchased by a Cincinnati interest and began tramping under the management
of the Steamer Avalon, Inc.
Major improvements were made as can be seen in the second card below. This was a 33 by 96 foot, hard-maple dance floor and stage, plus the main and boiler decks were enclosed in glass so that her seasonal operation could be extended. This steel hulled four decker had a capacity of 1450 passengers.
Steamer Avalon, Inc. ceased operations in 1962. The boat was purchased by the Jefferson County Fiscal Court and renamed The Belle Of Louisville. The name and home port has remained the same since 1962.
EXCURSION / PARTY BOATS
The 'Johnston Chaperon' owned and operated by Johnston Party Boats. The first card shows original version from the 50's, the other 4 cards show the newer version. .Both versions were constructed on a barge and were powered by a diesel-powered towboat. They were capable of carrying up to 600 passengers.
Main Cabin Dinner
The 'Johnston Party Boat' is capable of carrying up to 300 passengers.
The Mark Twain Excursion Boat.
BILLY BRYANT'S SHOWBOAT
Billy Bryant's Showboat Betty Bryant
The first RPPC shows the showboat Billy Bryant docked at
Cincinnati with the sternwheeler Valley Belle that had towed the showboat
from 1917 until 1939 when it was replaced by the smaller ferry New Lotus. The
New Lotus towed the showboat until 1942 when it closed for good. In 1943 the
showboat was sold to a freight terminal Company in Hunting, West Virginia where
it was used for a time as a wharf boat. It finally sank during a flood 6 years
later. The Valley Belle was attached to the showboat with ratchet chains, and
both boats were steered from the showboat's pilot house with long tiller lines
running from the pilot wheel to the rudders on the stern of the steamboat.
The Bryant family lived on the showboat while the other actors and steamboat crew lived on the Valley Belle
The second postcard is a very rare Kramer portrait postcard of Betty Bryant who has signed the card. Betty had this postcard made by Kramer and would sell it along with other cards of herself at the exit of the showboat after each performance for 5 cents each (or 6 for a quarter}. Betty was born and raised on the showboat and made her first appearance when she was six weeks old when she played the baby in Uncle Tom's Cabin. In the twenty years she spent on the showboat, she acted, sang, and danced.
In 1929 the showboat came to Cincinnati for three days. The first two days nobody showed up and it was decided to move on. On the third day the entire cast was told to go and see the city as there would be no show that day. At dusk a huge yacht pulled up with engine trouble and asked to tie up along side. There was a large party going on and they asked if they could see a play. When told that there was no performance that night they offered $25 to see the famous comedy at that time, Ten Nights in a Barroom. The troupe was rounded up and they performed for the 15 members of the party. It was a great performance and it was later determined that one of the party goers was Moses Strauss who was the managing editor of the Times Star. When he found out that the showboat was leaving the next day, he persuaded them to stay at least one more night.
The next days paper had such a glowing article with a four-column headline about the showboat that there was a standing room only crowd that night. From then on for the next thirteen summers every night was standing room only. A telephone had to be installed and seats were being sold to out-of-town parties six weeks in advance.
The many showboats on the inland waterways served as a source of much needed entertainment to many isolated people who lived in isolated communities along the rivers. By 1942 these communities were no longer isolated due to the automobile, the radio, and the advent of the movies, thus this form of entertainment was no longer needed.
3 Ads for the Billy Bryant's Showboat
Built in 1923 the Majestic holds several records for showboats. It holds the record for the longest-lived showboat, the most traveled, Captain Reynolds holds the record as being the longest owner at 36 years. In 1959 Captain Reynolds was ready to retire and sold the Majestic to Indiana University for its drama department. Before the deal was completed Reynolds died of a heart attack while working on the Majestic's tug Attaboy. In 1967 Cincinnati purchased the Majestic and it is now permanently moored at the riverfront. Owned by the City of Cincinnati thru its park system (since 2010) the showboat Majestic is actually a floating park. Operated for the last 23 seasons by Cincinnati Landmark Productions, it is the last of the original floating theatres. On January 3, 1980 the Showboat Majestic was added to the National Register of Historic Places. On December 20, 1989 it was declared a National Historic Landmark under the name Majestic.
The 2nd card above shows the Majestic moored in Bloomington Indiana when it was owned by Indiana University. The next image is a photograph. The 4th photo shows the Majestic being pushed up-river by the tug Attaboy.
1960 1965 Crippled Children's show
It appears that the 1913 season may be the last
year for shows to be seen on the Majestic with September 29 being the last show.
The production company, Landmark Productions is moving into new facilities being
built in the Price Hill Incline District. It is just too expensive to operate on
the river. The fate of the historic landmark is not known, although the
Cincinnati Parks department says that they will continue to maintain it in its
current condition in the hope that someone will keep it open for business.
Since 1991 more than 2600 performances have been seen by 350,000 plus passengers. Kevin Kline and Sarah Jessica Parker are two of the aspiring actors that have appeared on its stage.
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