“Steamboats and Steamboatmen of the Upper Mississippi”


George Merrick

Letter from Frank Whitney


The “Le Claire”


  Captain Frank A. Whitney, son of Andrew J. Whitney, now of Cripple Creek, Colorado, writes as follows:


  “The Le Claire was a stern-wheel tow -boat, built at Le Claire, Iowa, in 1866, Dull & Williams, contractors, bought her for use in river improvement work, Captain W. D. Holsapple was a pilot on her for several seasons on the upper rapids, in 1876 was thoroughly overhauled, a new boiler and a pair of Tremont piston valves 9 inches by 3 ˝ feet, stroke engines were put into her.  They were a great success and that spring she made a trip from Rock Island. Ill. To Florence, Alabama, up the Tennessee River.  Returning that fall the late captain Andrew J. Whitney bought her for the towing from his dredge fleet.  In September, 1879, when on a trip from Muscatine to Rock Island about twelve miles above Muscatine, she was sunk in a collision with the Victory.  She sank in 22 ft. of water.  No lives were lost, all the crew being rescued by the victory, which took them back to Muscatine: but the boat was a total loss.  She was raised and towed to Rock Island where she was dismantled at the Kahlke yard, and the new steamer A. J. Whitney was built and the Le Claire Machinery was put in the winter of 1879-80.  Capt. Shell Ruby was pilot and F. A. Whitney was chief engineer on the Le Claire when she was sunk by Victory.  No blame was attached to the officers of either boat; it was one of those unavoidable accidents that sometimes occur when handled by most reliable and experienced men.

  Frank A. Whitney was chief engineer of the Le Claire from 1873 to 1879, inclusive.


*Shell Ruby and Frank Whitney were from Rock Island Illinois



Collected and Transcribed by

                                                                                   Georgeann McClure



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