From The Marietta Times, Date not
Pencil Faithfully Depicts Old Days
By Augusta K.
P. Hughes, a native of Washington Co. and who spent more than a half century on
the rivers as a master, pilot, steamboat architect, artist and all round
riverman, is the author of “Cap’n Hughes Steamboat Sketchbook.” It is an original art picture book of river
craft and scenery. It is published by
The Picture Marine Publishing Company, Cincinnati.
Hughes, who spent his early life in Newport,
worked with the famous Greene family of two generations as captain and pilot on
many of the steamboats operated by the Greenes.
pictures in the book are lithographed pencil sketches of a half century of
steamboating that Mark Twain missed. The
sketches were done in pencil from memory and some on the spot.
Gordon C. Greene, on which he was navigator and the Steamer Indiana, last of
the Whit Collar line of steamboats on the rivers, are on the cover page, done
in color. The Gordon C. Greene still
plies out of St. Louis
on the Mississippi;
and the Indiana
was destroyed by fire in 1916, ending the long reign of the Commodore Laidley
steamboat history on the rivers.
Began Career as Boy
Hughes began is career on the rivers 60 years ago while in short breeches as a
cabin boy on the Steamer T. N. Barnsdall, in the
The boat was owned and operated by the late Capt. William E. Roe. He is now in Honolulu, Hawaiian
Islands, spending a long-earned vacation visiting with his
son-in-law, B. E. Prater, an instructor in the University of Hawaii,
and his daughter, Mrs. Helen Prater.
from the Barnsdall to boats operated by Capt. Gordon C. Greene and began his
piloting career on the Steamer H. K. Bedford, on which Capt. Greene took his
bride, Mary Becker Greene; and on the Steamer Argand, which Capt. Mary Becker
Greene commanded in the late 1890s. When
Capt. Greene took his steamboats from the “Port of Newport”
to the “Port of Cincinnati” Jesse went with him.
Tribute to Author
forward his close friend, Capt.
Frederick Way, Jr., of Sewickley, Pa.,
noted author of river books and head of the organization which sponsors the River Museum
in Campus Martius states: “Capt. Jesse P. Hughes went to an art school. He told me he did. He told me, too, that his art career was
nipped in the bud. ‘Old Man Greene’
needed him back on the river. And what
Capt. Gordon C. Greene wanted, that was what Jesse usually did. His yearning for art, and his natural talent
for drawing, played him good stead.
might-have-been pencil and brush man who turned pilot and captain has one
guiding principle. He is accurate in
everything he undertakes as is humanly possible. He now gives us a series of sketches, and
they are more than that. They are
photographic; they are historic glimpses of what interested this man most in
his river travels over the past half century.
If Jesse’s pencil catches a guy-line somewhat crooked, you may depend
upon it that that guy-line was crooked.
He is also accurate in the thrill of a gracefully crated ‘sheer line.’
been other steamboatmen with the artist’s skill, but none of them have had
their work published. Of all the
candidates, Capt. Jesse’s book was chosen.
He was known as a steamboater and not as an artist.”
Delta Queen, finest on the rivers, done in color, is the first picture in the
there’s the sketch of the T. N. Barnsdall, named for T. N. Barnsdall, early oil
operator here, who gave the whistle on the boat—his namesake. The boat was later sold and renamed “Royal,”
and later named “Liberty.”
Her whistle showed up on the Reuben Dunbar, one of the boats brought from the
South during the exigencies of World War I.
There was a
time before canalization of the Ohio River was
completed that the Ohio River was
“figuratively speaking,” frozen over half of the year and dried up the other
half. The Steamer Cricket especially
designed for low water operations was designed by Capt. Gordon C. Greene and
Capt. Hughes. She only drew 15 inches of
water and could run when all other boats had to suspend operations because of
In a story
in the book with a sketch of the Cricket, Capt. Hughes tells of seeing a farmer
drive his team and wagon across the Ohio River
directly across the course of the Cricket.
(It might be remembered when folks in this area drove across the Ohio
River on low water stage at what was Carpenter’s bar, near the site of the
present Lock and Dam 17.)
The U. S. snagboat,
E. A. Woodruff, is pictured in the book.
The boat ran from 1874 to 1921 in the days when there were snags which
spelled disaster all too frequently to the barges of towboats on what were
“coal waves” after rains enough to make a navigable stage; when there was smoke 100 miles long in
the air from stacks of the towboats following close one after another.
is the sketch of the light house tender “Goldenrod,” only light house tender on
the rivers since 1889 until the Steamer Greebrier [Perhaps he meant Greenbrier
as that is the word used later in this paragraph. Typed as shown in article.]
took over. The Greebrier retired from
service when the Coast Guard took over, now operating five modern diesel
vessels. It might be interesting to note
that these light house tenders were named according to a system for wild
flora—Goldenrod, Greenbrier, Anemone, Wakerobin, Fern and Willow.
A sketch of
the Courier, owned and operated by Capt. J. Mack Gamble, and later owned by
Capt. Gordon Greene; the Steamer Tacoma, owned by Capt. Greene and which burned
in the big river craft fire at Cincinnati in 1922 when the old steamer Island
Queen and the Morning Star of the Coney Island Company and Tacoma were
destroyed with the steamer Chris Greene burning; a wood named for Mrs. Junius
Greenwood of Newport, sister of Capt. Greene; a sketch of the H. K. Bedford
which sank and was destroyed in the ice at Ralph Bean’s Landing above Reno are
Hughes selected a miscellaneous collection of his drawings for his book. There is one of the Peter Sprague, largest
towboat ever on the rivers; a showboat in tow; the race of the Steamer Betsy
Ann and the Chris Greene in the famous sprint of the packets in July of 1928
when the Chris Green won the antlers.
A sketch of
the side-wheeler St. Lawrence which had the most famous musical steamboat [copy
of article ends here].