The James E. York Riverboat Post Card Collection


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Western River Steamboats and Post Card Collecting
by
James E. York

Pg. 1
.....To hold a lasting interest in post card collecting, it is my opinion that the collector must specialize in either views that he has seen in his travels, or should confine his collecting to one or two specialties. The specialty collector can easily learn a great deal about his subject, and with this knowledge his interest in his collection grows. I believe that notes should be kept on the back of post cards, or on separate file cards, giving information about the particular view or subject.
..... My post card specialty is passenger packet boats on western rivers. This collection includes steamers on all the navigable rivers west of the Appalachian Mountains. The principal navigable rivers of this area are included in the following river systems: Appalachicola, Alabama, Mississippi, Colorado, Sacramento, and Columbia. Of these, the Mississippi River System is the most important as it affords about 14,000 miles of navigable waterway. My collection is of views of passenger packet boats primarily, but also includes the following type of craft from the rivers mentioned above: Excursion boats, Showboats, U.S. lighthouse tenders, Civil War gunboats and rams.
.....As a schoolboy, the Ohio River held a great attraction for me. At this time, the last of the passenger packets were in their very last years of operation. One day I bought post cards of The Greene Line packet boats TOM GREENE and CHRIS GREENE

Pg. 2
(second). These two cards became the beginning of my collection. The collection grew very slowly for a long time. One summer the Streckfus Line excursion steamer SAINT PAUL made a trip out of Portsmouth, Ohio, and a post card was obtained aboard her of each of the line's five boats, then in operation. Several friends added about half a dozen cards dating before 1910. A friend bought an old scow for sixty-five dollars, and took a vacation trip to New Orleans. He sent me six modern cards picked up along the river. I had taken photographs of five packets, three excursion boats, and one U. S. lighthouse tender, when six and one half years with the U.S. Navy through the war interrupted this hobby.
..... Shortly before the end of the war, an old riverman from my home town heard of my collection, and gave me nineteen old photographic post cards of packet boats. He had been a clerk on the old CITY OF LOUISVILLE. This man obtained for me a copy of "Way's Steamboat Directory - abridged Packet Edition 1944", which was published in a limited edition. This directory lists only boats of the Mississippi and Alabama River Systems known to have been photographed. This list includes about one thousand steamboats of the total of about seven thousand which have operated on the rivers whose waters empty into the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to packet boats, Way's directory lists also other types of passenger carrying steamboats. It gives a short historical sketch of each boat listed. I consider Way's directory my handbook in collecting post cards of steamboats, but it omits those western rivers that flow into the Pacific Ocean.

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