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Angola Prison Farm: 1910

Louisiana circa 1910. "Sternwheeler America at Angola Landing, State Penitentiary farm, Mississippi River." 8x10 glass negative. View full size.

Louisiana circa 1910. "Sternwheeler America at Angola Landing, State Penitentiary farm, Mississippi River." 8x10 glass negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Pain and Perseverance

I work with my hands everyday. I can't imagine stevedoring raw lumber bare-handed. Perhaps the men work slowly and carefully together, mindful of each movement's ramifications. But, inevitably, their ungloved hands must be torn up (splinters, abrasions, chapping, cracking, blisters, reactive arthritis, tendonitis, fissures.) My fingertips burn just thinking about it.

Steamer America

This sternwheeler is the steamer America. It was owned by Captain LeVerrier Cooley. The bell at the front of this boat can be seen at his grave memorial in Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans. The captain of the steamer on this day is my great grandfather Sam Cotton who is the portly gentlemen you see leaning halfway out of the pilot house.


It appears to me that the convicts are loading, not unloading, the America. I was thinking perhaps convicts worked in prison sawmills instead of stamping license plates back then.

Coals to Newcastle

Enormous cargo on the America but also there are two additional loads of wood on the barges on the left. Maybe there's a major construction project going on at the prison farm? Note the hogging trusses keeping the wooden barges from deforming under their loads. This must have been a common feature on Southern barges in this time frame because we've seen it before on Shorpy.

The America is very ornate. Note the carving on top of the wheelhouse -- is it the Capitol dome? There's also Victorian gingerbread along the superstructure decks and ironwork on top of the funnels. Unlike some of the steamboats in photos of this period, she seems well maintained.

Re: The Antlers

Trophy antlers are also seen on the river steamer Hoppin' Tom Dodsworth: Duquesne Incline: 1900.

The Antlers

According to the captain of the Delta Queen when I had the privilege of riding her on the Mississippi years ago, antlers were the traditional prerogative of the fastest vessel on the river (according to some arranged speed contest). And how about those two powerful searchlights on the bow?

State Issue

I see only a few men with prison stripes. Most of them, including several who are actually working, are in street clothes and therefore unlikely to be actual Guests of the State. The other thing missing: any form of weaponry. I'd expect to see at least a few fellows standing guard over their charges, shotgun or rifle at the ready, a la "Cool Hand Luke."

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

"Say, any of you boys smithies? Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin'?"


I wonder how many attempted to escape over the years by simply getting someone on the dock to exchange clothes (willingly or unwillingly) and then casually boarding the steamer.

Strapped on

So much to see here in this image. I love the buggy strapped to the front railing. Is this being transported or is this the Captain's mode of travel when dockside? The antlers on the ship's bell are a quirky touch.

That is a lot of lumber and merchandise on and around the America. Come on lads, only 4 tons to go.

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