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Old Man River: 1906

Old Man River: 1906

"Mississippi River Landing." Circa 1906, an exceptionally detailed view of the sternwheeler "Belle of Calhoun" and sidewheeler "Belle of the Bends" taking on cargo. Detroit Publishing Company 8x10 glass negative. View full size.


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True Days

This is before my time by 45 years, but my father was old when he had me and saw all of this on the Mississippi. Mark Twain's stories tell much about it. I've been on the Ol' Miss a few times, but now live near the Mekong in SE Asia. I would have liked to have seen it here at that time too.

8x10 glass neg!

Wow, the resolution on a century old glass neg is as good as anything today it appears. Amazing technical expertise.

"Mark" my words...

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
- Mark Twain

Nimtz, not Nimitz

It's listed as Nimtz down in the text. Not Nimitz.

Nimitz Was There ... Where's Halsey?

In 1900 an A F Nimitz was Captain.
Any genealogists out there who might be able to connect any family lines to Admiral Nimitz of WWII fame?

Belle Of The Woods
Type: Sidewheel wooden hull packet Size: 210' X 32.6' X 7.4'
Power: 18's-8 ft., 3 boilers, each 44" X 28'
Launched: 1898, Jeffersonvile, Ind. by the Howard Yard
Destroyed; 1919, Oct. dismantled by John F. Klein
Area: Ohio R. Greenville-Vicksburg
1910-11, winter, New Orleans, excursions
1918-19, Cairo, Ill., excursions
Owners: 1898- Vicksburg And Greenville Packet Company
1910-or so, purchased by Capt Morrissy
Captains: 1900, Master, A. F. Nimtz
1901, Pilots, Billy Newbill and Joe Delahunt
1910, Morrissy
At one time, Joe Ballard, Vicksburg to Greenville, Miss.
Comments: 1909, Sept., 40 mi. below Viskburg, sank and was raised.
1910, Fitler's Landing, 20 mi. below Lake Providence, sank. Raised.
1910, or between 1918-19, renamed LIBERTY
1940, her bell was at Altheimer Plantation near Pine Bluff Ark.

1910, Fitler's Landing, 20 mi. below Lake Providence, sank. Raised.
1910, or between 1918-19, renamed LIBERTY
1940, her bell was at Altheimer Plantation near Pine Bluff Ark.


The only thing worse than reading someone complain that a particular picture at this site has been Photoshopped is someone complaining that a picture has been Photoshopped without providing an explanation of why they think this is the case. Not that the explanations are true but it's amusing to read their theories. Sort of like the explanations of why the Moon Landing photos are fakes.

[We use Photoshop on all of these. These photos don't appear on your screen via magic or telepathy -- you have to have some kind of image editor to get them sized, cropped, adjusted for contrast and changed from tiffs into jpegs. Plus the negatives have to be inverted to get positives. The "Shopped" commenters seem to have vague notions that something fishy is afoot. - Dave]



[*Sigh.* Dumb. - Dave]

Falstaff Beer

Note Falstaff wagon at far right. According to, it's been made under that brand label since 1899. Fascinating shot, Dave, I feel like I'm right there.

Travel on the river

At one time I thought it would be nice to take a well equipped pontoon boat down the Mississippi from Minneapolis to New Orleans stopping at small towns, having lunch, talking to people, fishing etc. What stopped me is that it would not be safe. There are to many bad people in America.

[Smart move. So many kayakers these days getting waylaid by highwaymen and barge pirates. - Dave]

The Gingerbread Boat

The railings and detail work you see was generally factory made and could be ordered through mail-order catalogs. What made it go out of style was not the hand work needed to make it, it was the hand work needed to keep it painted. That's why you saw a lot of Victorian houses painted one color in later years when originally the trim was painted in a contrasting color (or colors) to the main body of the house.

Vicksburg & Greenville

Vicksburg & Greenville Packet Co., it says on Belle of the Bends wheel cover. I wonder if that tattered flag held some historical significance, it seems stark in contrast with the shiny bell. There's so much interesting detail in the open fronted wheelhouses alone with their strange shutters and whistles.


This could be anywhere along the length of the Mississippi River, but something reminds me of Vicksburg. All that's missing from the scene is the I-20/US80 Bridge, the Old Vicksburg Bridge, and the Casino Boats. On second thought I don't miss those at all, this is a better image.

Old Glory... looking awfully tired and threadbare on Belle of the Bends.

Belle of Calhoun

At 451 gross tons, with 27 staterooms and 60 berths, the Belle could carry 119 passengers including 30 in deck and steerage. She also was certified to carry freight.

Lifting Bales

I see people lifting that bale, but I don't see anyone toting that barge.

Not that I'd know barge-toting when I saw it, though...


The amount of woodwork that must have gone into making one of these vessels is amazing. The detail work on the railings comes to mind. Wonder what it would cost today to build one to spec?

I really like this photo!

I can feel the motion, almost hear the sounds, smell the aromas....quite amazing. Gives me a strong hint of the era just over 100 years ago.

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