Visual display of the Avalon (Excursion boat, 1948-1961)

Avalon (Excursion boat, 1948-1961)

  • August 22, 1958
  • BOAT DESCRIPTION: Sternwheel
  • BOAT TYPE: Excursion
  • BUILT: 1914 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as the Idlewild; renamed Avalon in February 1948
  • FORMERLY: Idlewild
  • BECAME: Belle of Louisville in 1962
  • FINAL DISPOSITION: Sold at auction in 1962 to Jefferson County Fiscal Court, Louisville, Kentucky and renamed Belle of Louisville
  • OWNERS: J. Herod Gorsage (1948); Steamer Avalon, Incorporated (1950); Jefferson County Fiscal Court, Louisville, Kentucky (1962)
  • OFFICERS & CREW: Captain Ernest E. Wagner (1961); Clarke (Doc) Hawley (first mate, 1961)
  • RIVERS: Mississippi River; Ohio River; Missouri River; Kanawha River; Tennessee River; Cumberland River; Illinois River, St. Croix River
  • OTHER INFORMATION: Ways - 0403; Renamed in 1948 by J. Herod Gorsage, Peoria, Illinois to grant the deathbed wish of Captain Ben Winters who had first worked on the former Avalon; after being sold in 1950 to Steamer Avalon based at Cincinnati, she operated excursions on the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, Kanawha, etc. until sold in 1962 to Jefferson County Fiscal Court. As the Avalon she had several minor accidents, the worst of which happened while entering the Emsworth Lock, Ohio River on May 24, 1958. Engine failure caused her to hit the lower gate and 23 were injured. In May 1961 she hit a low overhead wire at Nitro, West Virginia on the Kanawha River and damaged her stacks. In 1961 she became celebrated taking a boatload of Girl Scouts Memphis to New Orleans and another delegation back to Memphis during which Captain Ernest E. Wagner and first mate Clarke Hawley were joined up as official Girl Scouts
  • PHOTO DESCRIPTION: The Avalon crew at St. Paul, Minnesota on August 22, 1958. Left to right on stage: William Marcum (steward), Ernest E. Wagner (master), Everett P. Hall (purser), Clarke C. "Doc" Hawley (mate), J.R. "Happy Jack" Carter, Leonard "Whitey" Dick, Harold Donelson, all watchmen; Urbie Williams (chief engineer), Jasper Sidell (assistant engineer), John Sidell (striker), Kenton Taylor (striker). First row, left to right, on bow: Leroy Battoe, Marty Valencour, Bobby Thompson, Harry Richo, Carl "Shorty" Robinson, Steve Burton, all deckhands. Second row, left to right, on bow: Gerald Wright, Bob Williams, Paul Tanner, George Bagley, Brennen Sears, "Butch" Lehnertz, Russel Elkins, Harold Hurd, William Willis, all cabin boys. Third row, left to right, on bow: William Samuels, Laddie Fair, Gene Walker, Ronald Brown, Walter Smith, all musicians: Ed Smith (fireman), Jess Wilkes (musician), James Madison (musician), Charles Chinn (fireman), Archie Rigdon (cook), Florence Witherspoon (maid), Hilliard Witherspoon (orchestra leader)
  • Avalon (A)


  • August 22, 1958
Local identifier
  • Neg. 41726
For Staff