Few vessels from the glory days of the Steamboat Era are more iconic than the steam packet boat. Built to carry both freight and passengers, their impressive size, speed, and often decorative appearance made packet boats one of the most recognizable images from this time in history. Between 1834 and 1923, the Howard family built hundreds of these vessels for use on the inland rivers. Today’s subject is one of the most famous packet boats ever built by the family: the CITY OF LOUISVILLE.
Launched by the Howards at their Jeffersonville shipyard in 1894 (the same year the mansion our museum calls home was completed), CITY OF LOUISVILLE measured 301’x42.7’x7′ and was originally owned by the Louisville & Cincinnati Packet Co. She ran for more than twenty years on the Ohio River between the two cities. With 72 staterooms and room for 1,500 passengers, she was one of the largest and fastest boats of her day.
CITY OF LOUISVILLE showing off the speed for which she was famous (ca. 1894)
CITY OF LOUISVILLE lost in ice at Cincinnati, OH (January 31st, 1918)
Fishbaugh, Charles Preston. From Paddlewheels to Propellers. Indiana Historical Society: Indianapolis. 1970.
Way Jr., Frederick. Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1983. Ohio University: Athens. 1983.