in the Trinity River at Parkerís Bluff, near Palestine,
a cluster of remnants from an old sidewheeler steamboat serve as reminders of
an era when cotton was king in much of East
The A.S. Ruthven, weighing 144 tons and measuring 127
feet long, was built at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1860 by a shipyard that turned out
While most of the steamboats were placed in service on
the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the Ruthven came to Texas, where
she was placed in service hauling cotton down
the Trinity River to Galveston.
Texas, The First Cotton Export Port of the World"|
| But the craft had
barely established herself on the Trinity when Texas seceded from the Union and
the Ruthvenís owners leased her to the Texas Marine Department for use
as a transport vessel. On the last day of 1861 she arrived at Galveston
with a pair of artillery pieces, part of a shipment of fourteen for the defense
of Galveston Island during the Civil War.|
In 1862 the Ruthven was
running between Galveston
and Buffalo Bayou and during October of that year, she was inoperable and had
to be towed up Buffalo Bayou to escape the Union attack on Galveston.
the Civil War ended, the Ruthven went back to the Trinity River and, with
the Texas cotton markers open again, she resumed hauling bales from East
Texas to Galveston.
But the Trinity was a fickle river. Some boats lingered too long upstream and
found themselves trapped by low waters and were forced to wait until spring rains
lifted the river.
the 1866-87 cotton season, the Ruthven made successful runs from East
Texas to Galveston,
delivering more than 2,200 bales.
Cotton, Galveston, Texas"|
| In March
of 1867, the Galveston Weekly News reported: ďComing up, the Ruthven
met 14 flatboats at various points, all loaded with cotton
We understand that the Ruthven will go as high up as Wild Cat Bluff and will return
up the river and remain above Magnolia until next fall. The snow, sleet and hail
fell on the deck of the boat to a depth of six inches. The cold was so severe
that the steam pipes of the steamers and sawmills were frozen and burst. Such
severe weather in the month of March was never known before.Ē |
continued to serve customers on the Trinity through the l860s, but with growing
competition from the railroads, the Ruthven was pulled from service. In
the early 1870s George Anderson Wright of Palestine
bought the old sidewheeler for $900, moved her to Parkerís Bluff, and began to
dismantle parts of the vessel.
The steamboatís boilers, engines and machinery
were removed and sold to gins and sawmills in the area. The cabin was also removed
and incorporated into the construction of a large Palestine home. The hull of
the boat was left to deteriorate in the Trinity.
the 1970s an archeology team from the Texas Historical Commission traveled to
Parkerís Bluff to determine if any of the Ruthvenís wreckage could be salvaged.
While the boatís hull had survived nearly 130 years in the river, the remains
were in poor shape and had been scattered along the river.
To the general
public, the only visible reminder of the Ruthven is an anchor recovered
by a group of young men in the l920s or 1930s.
2005 Column, Updated 6-9-12
Bob Bowman's East Texas
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers
| Columns | Texas
Towns | Texas
|Book Hotel Here