The James E. York Riverboat Post Card Collection


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Western River Steamboats and Post Card Collecting
James E. York

Pg. 3
While in San Francisco during the war, I saw the former Sacramento and .San Joaquin River packet steamer PORT OF STOCKTON, which the Navy was using to quarter submarine personnel. Although the packet boats of the rivers of the Pacific Slope differ from those of the Gulf System in several notable respects, their design is very similar. I then and there decided to add these steamboats to the scope of my collection.
.....To become more familiar with the steamboats of the Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Colorado Rivers, I bought a copy of "Paddle Wheel Days in California", by Jerry MacMullen, published by Stanford University Press. This book lists all the steamboats that have operated on these rivers.
.....Post cards of passenger packets are hard to obtain, because these boats have disappeared from western rivers. The era of the packet began in 1811, when the NEW ORLEANS was completed at Pittsburgh, under the direction of Nicholas J. Roosevelt. The last passenger packet ceased operation as such on the Mississippi River System in 1937. With few exceptions, all post cards of passenger packets are old cards.
.....A fairly recent term on the river is that of "tourist" boat. This type of steamer is essentially a passenger packet, but is not on regular runs, hauling both passengers and freight. The tourist boat operates only during the tourist season, and hauls only passengers, and is not necessarily on a particular run. At the present time, the GORDON C. GREENE, owned by The Greene Line, is the only such boat in operation on the Mississippi River

Pg. 4
System. The Greene Line has purchased the stern-wheel Sacramento River steamer DELTA QUEEN, (formerly owned by The River Lines of San Francisco) and is having her rebuilt for service as a tourist boat on the Mississippi River.
.....The PETALUMA (No. 3), is a small freight packet, was the only steamboat left in commercial operation on the rivers of California in 1944. At that time, there were six former California river packet boats in U.S. service. I do not know the post war fate of these six steamers, except of the DELTA QUEEN as mentioned above and of her sister the DELTA KING, which was sold to Chinese interests. The PETALUMA (No. 3) is owned by The Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad Co. She operates between San Francisco and Petaluma, California on Petaluma Creek.
.....The passenger packets were very important to the growth of the interior of the United States, particularly so before the Civil War. Before the building of the railroads, they were the only reliable link between the interior of the country and the outside world.
.....I believe that anyone interested in the early history of the United States would find almost any of the books written about the old days of the western river packets very interesting. I believe that anyone, interested in starting a collection like mine, should read several of these books. When you find the first such book in your public library, you will probably find a list of other books used as reference.

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