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Chris Greene Beats Betsy Ann in 20 Mile Boat Race on Ohio; Thousands Crowd the Shore

Wooden and battered Betsy Ann Eats the Smoke of Trim Chris Greene in 20 Mile Contest; Greene Wins by Two Length; Local Man Commands Betsy

            New Richmond, O., July 24 [year not given]—The steel river packet Chris Greene tonight assumed the title of speed queen of the Ohio River and invested itself with a share in its rich tradition and racing lore by making the wooden, battered Betsy Ann eat its smoke in a 20 mile race up the river from Cincinnati.

            Her whistles screaming, her hull trembling from the task and her twin funnels belching smoke and flames, the newer, finer, larger boat loomed through the twilight a winner by two lengths after two hours and 25 minutes of excitement such as the old river had not seen in years.

Recalls Old Days

            The scene took old river men back to the old racing heyday of the middle on the Ohio and Mississippi, to the day when the Robert E. Lee set the present record for the run from New Orleans to St. Louis, and beat the Natchez by six hours—a day when a conscientious riverman would stand squarely before the smokestack and part his hair in the middle to trim ship while a big stake race was on. 

            The boats left Central Bridge at the foot of Broadway Street in Cincinnati at 5:06 p.m. [;] crowds lined the river front and every bridge across the stream as they got underway with the Betsy Ann on her rival’s starboard.  Hundreds of launches, motorboats and small river craft set their sirens screaming as they started up the stream, swollen by recent rains. 

                                                            Ellsworth Cuts Lead

            Captain Chris Greene commanded his own boat and took an early lead which he increased by two lengths at Coney Island Amusement Park, the half way point, and to 800 feet at New Palestine, but Captain Charles Ellsworth of Parkersburg, W. Va., cut that down to two lengths again three miles from the finish. 

            Thousands of spectators lined the banks all the way, cheering the racers, and faster, smaller craft pursed them all the way with a din of whistles.  Airplanes soared overhead and then returned to Cincinnati flying fields for more loads of passengers.  The calliope on the Island Queen started to play “Old Man River,” and “Mississippi Mud.”

            Spectators hastened to the finish line, their automobiles thronging the roads into Richmond as the cry of “here they come” went up with their boilers straining until it seemed they must burst and the signals set at full speed ahead, the boats went for the finish line and the Chris Greene barely got there first. 

            The race was engendered by a boast of Captain Greene that his boat could beat the Betsy Ann “anytime,” after reading press reports of a victory of the Betsy over his boat last week.  He claimed his ship had been four miles ahead of Betsy Ann and had given up the race, allowing her to go ahead on their daily run up the river. 

                                                            Accepted Challenge

            Frederick Way, of the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet lines, owners of the Betsy Ann, took up the challenge and offered the gilt elk horns, won and defended by the Betsy Ann in many a hard fought race on the Mississippi and the Louisiana bayous in the earlier days as a trophy for the victor. 

            The Betsy Ann was launched in 1915 and measures 170 feet by 35.  She carried 150 passengers today while the Chris Greene, built in 1924 and measuring 180 feet by 42, carried 250.  Hundreds of others fairly fought for the privilege of lining their rails during the race.  Neither boat was stripped.

            Captain M.O. Irwin of the Steamer Senator Cordill, Pittsburgh, telegraphed a challenge to the winner before the race, offering to deposit $500 with his crew to put up a like amount as a wager on the outcome.  Rivermen hope for a renewal of the brave old days when frequent races decided the supremacy of the stream.