Saturday, February 18, 2012

Steamboat Report: Fred Hartweg sternwheeler strikes President Roosevelts boat!

This picture taken at Cairo, IL shows the Fred Hartweg sternwheeler.

Fred Hartweg
Sank:  Richardsons Ldg near Fort Pillow Mississippi River

From the Paducah Evening Sun
Saturday October 5th, 1907

Roosevelt Orders License of Hartwegs Suspended for Ninety Days for Behavior

Claimed Hartweg Crowded President's Boat and Angered Every other Pilot in the Fleet

Evansville, Ind Oct. 5. -- United States Inspector of Hulls Williams for the local port received a telegram signed by President Roosevelt directing that the license for the steamer Fred Hartweg, carrying the Pittsburg delegation in the present river trip be immediately suspended.  The telegram follows:

"Memphis, Tenn, on board U.S.S Mississippi. Surveying Inspector of Vessels, Evansville, Ind.

I direct that the license of the master, or whoever is responsible for the Fred Hartweg during the present voyage, be suspended at once for ninety days.  I wish this done by telegraph wherever the boat is, if such proceeding is possible.  Col. Sears can give you the details of the misconduct which has been of a serious nature and which might at any time have caused an accident to this boat as well as to the other boats"
Theodore Roosevelt

(Steamer Hartweg's home port is Cairo and it is inspected at Evansville.)

Memphis, Oct 5 -- The run down the river was devoid of interest, for the most part, the only enlivening incident being a brief race between the Alton and the Fred hartweg, a fast Ohio boat, with a delegation from Pittsburg on board, which joined the presidential fleet at Cairo, which was a drawn battle.  The ragamuffin behavior of the Fred Hartweg, which repeatedly crowded the boat of the president, angered nearly every other boat's master on the river.  The president seemed to enjoy the situations created by pilot rivalry.  The Hartweg had a party of Pittsburg people on board, and late in the afternoon, just as we approached this place the pilots of the Lily and the Alton pocketed the Hartweg and gave her their smoke.


Hartweg Struck boat.

Memphis, Oct 6 -- Report reached Memphis last night that an accident occurred south of Cairo Thursday which came very near causing a wreck of the steamer Mississippi and the loss of the life of the president and all on board.

The St. Louis fleet and other fleets in the river parade met at Cairo after the reception in that city and proceded down without formation, although it was understood the Alton and the McKenzie had the right of way behind the president's boat, the Mississippi.  The Hartweg, containing the Pittsburg delegation, sought to nose the Alton out of its position and while the Alton was seeking to hold the position the Hartweg passed and while running at a rapid rate of speed crashed into the steamer Mississippi.  But for the cool-headed pilot on the Mississippi the wreck might have been very disastrous.  The pilot saw the impending danger and quickly veered the Mississippi aside, thereby averting a serious collision, rendering the blow of the Hartweg a glancing one.

When the Hartweg struck the Mississippi the passengers were thrown down upon the decks and in the rooms, and the president, who was in his dressing room, when he ascertained the trouble, rushed upon the deck in anger.  He immediately framed up a telegram which was sent to the inspector of the Ohio river district at Evansville, Ind., asking that the pilot on the Hartweg be suspended for ninety days if such a thing could be done, and directing him to communicate immediately with Col. Clinton B. Sears of the United States Army for instructions in regard to the matter.

An effort was made to suppress the news, but the newspaper men on board the boats in the flotilla gave out the details


Hartweg Suspended

Evansville, Ind.  Oct. 5 -- Captain Williams, lighthouse inspector fo the Evansville-Cairo district, directed the Memphis inspectors to suspend the captain of the Fred Hartweg.  This action followed the telegram of President Roosevelt requesting that the suspension be made.

The Pittsburgh Press - Apr 6, 1908

Man, suspended through Roosevelt, reinstated.
Capt Nichols, of Fred Hartweg gets new license

After a suspension of six months by the special order of President Theodore Roosevelt.  Clarence Nichols, master of the steamer Fred Hartweg, has been reinstated and a new license issued to him at Memphis.  Nichols underwent the full penalty, although the suspension was characterized as unjust by passengers upon his boat, and an appeal was made to the board of supervising inspectors.

The suspension was made last October.  The Fred Hartweg, it is claimed, had been assigned a place in the steamboat parade from St. Louis to Memphis, just before the Deer Waterways convention.  It is claimed that Nichols left his place and ran ahead of the other boats, nearly running down the President's steamer.  A telegram was at once sent by President Roosevelt, demanding the suspension of Nichols, to the inspector at Memphis.

The Fred Hartweg carried the Pittsuburg delegation to Memphis, which included George W. Theiss, Captain William B. Rodgers, Captain Thomas Rees, Captain W. H. Crump, Secretary J. Frank Tilley, of the Pittsburg Coal Exchange, and others.  Upon their return to Pittsburg several members of the party took exceptions to the allegations, claiming that the President's boat had not been in the slightest danger and denied that Nichols had done anything for which he could be justly suspended.

From the Way Collection at the Cincinnati Library:

Fred Hartweg at Cairo, IL

The Fred Hartweg and the dredge Alipia on the left

Fred Hartweg and Mississippi

The Steamer FRED HARTWEG docked at Elizabeth Marine Ways for repair work on March 22, 1910. She left on April 29, 1910

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