Str Katie Stockdale

The str Katie Stockdale, named for the youngest daughter of Capt Jackman Taylor Stockdale, was a sternwheel packet with a texas deck built in California, PA and completed in Pittsburgh in 1877.  The original partners in the venture were Capt Jackman T Stockdale (1/2), Willis Stockdale (1/4), and Capt Thomas Stevenson Calhoon (1/4).[1]  The original pilots were James Rowley Sr and George Hughes.

 

Photo of a photo in Ohio River Museum Marietta (F Nash Collection)

Photo of a photo in Ohio River Museum Marietta (F Nash Collection)

The cost to build the packet was $33,561.65.  The whistle and cabin furniture were reused from the Glencoe.  The packet design included a new paddle wheel system with steel arms.  The Katie Stockdale was the first boat built expressly for the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line. [2]

 

Capt Thomas S Calhoon was long her master on the Saturday run to Cincinnati.  As newer and more luxurious boats entered the fleet of the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Line, the Katie Stockdale became the Monday boat from Pittsburgh.  After a prosperous career, in 1890 the Katie Stockdale was dismantled in Marietta, OH and much of her machinery including her whistle and roof bell were installed in the new sternwheeler Keystone State. [3]  Capt Thomas S Calhoon commanded the Katie her entire 13 years.  He was her only master.

 

Str Katie Stockdale (From the Collection of the UW La Crosse Murphy Library Special Collections)

Str Katie Stockdale (From the Collection of the UW La Crosse Murphy Library Special Collections)

The Katie Stockdale with Capt Thomas S Calhoon in command, achieved fame for a mercy mission in Jan 1884.  The story begins with a summons to Capt Thomas Calhoon to get back to his boat which he had tied up in Cincinnati when the Ohio River stage was 16 feet.  It was 40 feet and rising when the summons arrived..  There was no general alarm because the Flood of 1883 had topped at 66 feet 4 inches in Cincinnati.  When Capt Calhoon stepped aboard the Katie, the river was at 46 feet.  No doubt a major flood was coming. [4]

 

Capt Calhoon decided to run the 470 miles to Pittsburgh breasting the flood.  Marks showed 57 feet and rising in Cincinnati.  Although the river full of floating ice and not another steamer was stirring, the big concern was whether the Katie could get under the railroad bridge at Pt Pleasant, OH.  Even with stacks lowered, the bridge when sighted was going to take the top of the pilot house.  (Another source indicated that the pilothouse was sawed off level with the pilot’s wheel on 10 Feb 1884 to get under the Parkersburg bridge.)  Capt Calhoon ordered the boats carpenter to take off the top of the pilot house.  When the roof was dismantled, the pilots, Billy Abrams and Halloway, aimed the Katie at the center of the span.  Afterwards it was told, that the pilot’s wheel raked cobwebs from the bridge’s underspan.  The pilots had counted 120 houses bobbing by.  [5]

 

When the Katie Stockdale blew her landing whistle at the Point Bridge in Pittsburgh, the flood crest had passed.  The crest on 14 Feb in Cincinnati was 71 feet 12 inches. [6] The Ohio River valley from Wheeling to Cairo was a major disaster.

 

After the fairly risky trip up the Ohio, Capt Calhoon was summoned to the wharfboat for a conference.  His partner Capt Jackman T Stockdale introduced him to Col Samuel Cushing of the US Army.  Congress had appropriated $300,000 for Ohio River relief of which $60,000 had been allocated to Col Cushing.  The Katie Stockdale was under orders of the US Army; the boat would be quickly loaded with supplies; and the Capt Calhoon would be in command of the boat to distribute the supplies.  The Katie took aboard some 300 tons of supplies. [7]

 

The devastation prompted other assistance.  Non government relief groups loaded another steamer and a tug and barges with supplies and started south.

 

At the trip’s conclusion, decks bare, the Katie steamed into Pittsburgh on George Washington’s birthday.  Mission accomplished.  The relief effort of the Katie Stockdale was the first instance of federal purchase and distribution of supplies along the inland rivers. [8]

A list of officers who worked on the Katie Stockdale was included in Thomas S Calhoons papers given to the Heinz History Center by the Dr John Calhoon Ewing family.

Captain:  Thomas S Calhoon (her only captain)

Clerks:  AJ McConnell, Nat Eathart, Mart F Noll, Chas M Buchanan, Clark Barringer, Chas W Knox

Pilots:  James Rowley Sr, George Hughes, Thomas D Sandford, J Harry Ollum, Anthony Meldahl.

Summary.

The Katie Stockdale had a prosperous career.   That career was marred by one sinking caused byt a collision with the towboat BD Woods on 3 Feb 1882.

 

 

References.

 


[1] Frederick Way, Jr.,Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994, (Ohio University Press, Athens 1994), p. 268.
[2] Alexander C McIntosh, A Genealogy Report on the Calhoon Family, Beaver County Historical Society.
[3] Frederick Way, Jr.,Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994, (Ohio University Press, Athens 1994), p. 268.
[4]  Capt Frederick Way, Jr., Adventures in the 1884 Flood, (S&D Reflector (Mar 1973), p 37-41).
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8]Ibid.

Copyright © Francis W Nash
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