By Jeff Wilson
If you're interested in reading more about rivers and river lore, here are some books recommended by M'Lissa Kesterman of the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County, and Mark Pierce of the Mercantile Library.
Most of them are out of print and may be located in used bookstores. All are available at the library.
The Western Rivers Steamboat Cyclopoedium by Alan L. Bates (Hustle Press, 1968; out of print). A great source for information on steamboat architecture and design, containing numerous illustrations and a glossary of terms.
Cincinnati's Tall Stacks. Cincinnati: Cincinnati Historical Society, 1999 (Complete issue of the Queen City Heritage, volume 57, no. 2/3, summer/fall 1999). Prepared for the 1999 Tall Stacks event, this special issue of Queen City Heritage is devoted to Cincinnati's steamboat history.
The River's in My Blood: Riverboat Pilots Tell Their Stories, by Jane Curry (University of Nebraska Press, 1983; $7.95 paperback). Fascinating stories told by riverboat pilots bring this discussion of the piloting profession to life.
Thrills of the Historic Ohio River, by Frank Y. Grayson (Cincinnati Times-Star, 1929, revised edition with index 2000; out of print). An entertaining compilation of Ohio River stories and anecdotes written by a local newspaperman.
Steamboats on the Western Rivers, by Louis C. Hunter (Harvard University Press, 1949, reprinted 1993; Dover; $24.95). One of the most authoritative histories of 19th century steamboating with information on operation, travel, labor, accidents, and more.
The Ohio River Handbook and Picture Album, edited by Benjamin F. Klein (Young and Klein, 1969, reprinted 1979; out of print). A potpourri of facts and anecdotes about the Ohio River.
The River Book, Cincinnati and the Ohio, edited by Joyce V.B. Cauffield and Carolyn E. Banfield (Program for Cincinnati, 1981; out of print). Written by area experts, this collection of essays about the Ohio River and its relationship to Cincinnati covers riverboats, bridges, floods, pollution and more.
Tales of the Mississippi, by Samuel, Ray and Leonard V. Huber and Warren C. Ogden (Hastings House, 1955, reprinted 1992; out of print). Colorful stories about early boatmen; steamboat races, riverboat gambling, women pilots, and floating theatres, and more.
Steamboats on the Mississippi, by Ralph K. Andrist (Harpercollins Juvenile Books, 1962; out of print). A general history of riverboats written for young people.
Life on the Mississippi, by Mark Twain (James R. Osgood and Co., 1883, numerous editions; Buccaneer Books; $25.95). One of the most frequently quoted books on steamboating, this literary work is based on Twain's own piloting experiences on the Mississippi River prior to the Civil War.