About Boats Whose Names Start With The Letter
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Watercolor by
Jim Daviner

The Steamer R.C. Gunter was a sternwheel packet built at Chattanooga, Tenn. in 1886. Built by the Chattanooga and Decatur Packet Company. (R.C. Gunter, owner and master) Taken to the Illinois River in 1896 with a new master and operated by the St. Louis, Harden and Hempsville Packet Co. It snagged and sunk in March of 1900. It was salvaged and sold in 1901 to the Eagle Packet Co. In 1902 it was at Kansas City, running excursions. It was dismantled in St. Louis in the winter of 1907 to 1908.

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The R.C. Gunter, Sternwheeler, wooden hull, built in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1886. She was 153' long and 28' wide, drawing 5.2' of draft. Her machinery was from the T.J.Wilder. She was built by the Chattanooga-Decatur Packet Company, headed by Captain R.C. Gunter, who was her Master. The R.C. GUNTER, like the Nathan B. Forrest, was one of the major packet boats operating between Chattanooga and Paducah, Kentucky. The crew on the first trip of this vessel was M.W.Sams, first clerk; John H. Jackson, Mate; Chris Short and Buck McKey, Pilots; George and Henry Pittman, Engineers. She later went to the Illinois River, and in 1896 was owned by the St. Louis, Hardin & Hempsville Packet Company.

In 1900, Captain Alex Lammond was the Master, with W.C. Colvin and Frank Ebaugh as her Pilots. John and Allie McCann was the Engineers. She was sold to Eagle Packet Company of St.Louis in 1901, and in the spring of 1902, she was in Kansas City running excursions. Captain Harry H. Monaghan was her Master. While on the Illinois River, she was snagged and sank within two feet of the roof. She was raised, and towed to St. Louis, where her machinery was dismantled in the winter of 1907.

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The Gunter family operated two boats, the R.C. Gunter and the Nathan B. Forrest. They also owned the Bridgeport Land Company. Guntersville, Alabama is named for the Gunter's of Bridgeport. In the late1800's Augustus Gunter moved to Texas. My friend Ken Gunter, grandson of Augustus, still has a safe from the Bridgeport Land Company, which was hauled to San Angelo, Texas by rail car. It is green, with a picture of the R.C. Gunter on the front. The safe is huge... and weighs tons, and is still in San Angelo.

Please take a look at the City of Bridgeport's site.
Bridgeport, Alabama and Steamboatin' on the Tennessee

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The following was taken from the J. A. Caldwell's 1880 Edition of the
"History of Jefferson and Belmont Counties" (OHIO), pages 488 and 489
Submitted by site visitor Patrick L. Thompson, Gambrills, MD, USA


There are yet many in Steunbenville who have a vivid recollection of seeing the Robert Thompson steam first from this port in 1821, she having been built ostensibly to run between Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Louisville. We clip the following interesting facts about her from the Cincinnati Commercial [newspaper] of June 10, 1870: -- "Capt. John S. Devenney has presented to us one of the steamer "Robert Thompson" posters, about five by seven inches in size, which announces that that boat will leave Fort Smith for the mouth of White river, on Wednesday, May 26, 1822, at 9 A.M. This boat was commanded by Captain George A.
, with Jacob A. Dohrman, clerk, and Peter A. Dohrman, Pilot. The hull of the Thompson was built where Wellsville, Ohio, now stands, and the cabin and machinery at Steubenville. The hull was 65 feet keel, 11 feet beam, with 3 feet hold, and side wheels. She had one double flue boiler, the first on the river. She started on her first trip from Pittsburgh to Louisville, March 17th, 1821, and made several trips from
Pittsburgh to Louisveille. About the middle of June she commenced plying as a regular packet between Cincinnati and Louisville, making two trips per week, carrying all passengers and freight, through and way, then offering during the low water season. She carried several pleasure parties from Cincinnati to Louisville to and from Big Bone Landing. In February 1822, she left Steubenville for the purpose of transporting 300 tons of army stores to Fort Smith, Arkansas. She towed 32-feet keel boats to Montgomery Point, above White River Island. On her first trip from the Point she towed one of her keels loaded and a flat boat 80 by 18 feet, containing 100 barrels of flour, up White river some six mile through the pass, six miles into the Arkansas river, and thirty miles up to the post of Arkansas, where she left the flat and proceeded to Fort Smith. She was the first boat above Little Rock, made four trips from Montgomery Point to Fort Smith, and Left Little Rock July 4, on her last downward trip. On her way from Steunbenville to her destination she landed just below the mouth of Wolf River, and lay all night where Memphis is now located. There was no house or cabin on the river until you came down to Fort Pickering. We gleaned the above facts from Mr. J. A. Dohrman, Clerk of the Robt. Thompson."

The latter gentleman, however, at present writing is dead, and the only surviving member of the crew is Wm. Thompson, who was carpenter, and from whom we have gleaned the following additional facts:-- "It was Arthur Phillips who built the Thompson's engine and her cabin was put up at Elijah Murray's boat yard. She was a plain looking but stout boat, and could make easily from three to four miles an hour against the stream. Her last downward trip was to Louisville, to the Falls of Ohio. Here an attempt was made, by taking out her engines, to raise her over the falls, but arriving at the point to cross the river, they failed, and then ran her back to the foot of the falls, where Captain Dohrman sold her for $2,500 to some Louisville men, and she subsequently plied there some two years and was finally lost. When I was running on her (said Thompson) I frequently witnessed ludicrous scenes among spectators who came to see the engine work, but our engineer's choice joke seemed to be to catch a group of Indians gazing upon us in utter bewilderment, as we quietly steamed along -- sometimes twenty to thirty would be gathered, male and female, several on ponies -- when he would raise the safety valve as we were just opposite them. Well, sir, no one ever saw the equal of the stampede that followed, and it took less time than I am occupying to tell you to witness every foot of ground within sight as free of red skins as the palm of your hand." Our informant, Wm. Thompson is a native of Tyrone, Ireland, was born in 1799, and came to this country with his parents in 1801.
(The article continues on to page 489, but does not deal with the "Robert Thompson".)



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