Visual display of the Island Queen (Packet/excursion, 1923-1947)

Island Queen (Packet/excursion, 1923-1947)

  • September 9, 1947
  • BOAT TYPE: Packet/excursion
  • BUILT: 1923-1925, hull built by Midland Barge Company, Midland Pennsylvania; completed at Cincinnati by her owners, Coney Island Company
  • FINAL DISPOSITION: September 9, 1947, Pittsburgh, her fuel tanks exploded
  • OWNERS: 1923: John W. Hubbard; 1925: Coney Island Company
  • OFFICERS & CREW: Captain Charles N. Hall (master for a long period); Captain Harry Doss (pilot); Homer Denney (calliope); 1947: Captain Ernest Wagner (mate), Frank Dickow (chief engineer)
  • RIVERS: Mississippi River; Ohio River; Monongahela River
  • OTHER INFORMATION: Ways - 2800; The Island Queen was the largest steamboat on the Western rivers with a license to carry 4,100 passengers. She was called the "Big Liz". She was built of steel, fireproof, non-sinkable (thirty-six water-tight compartments), burned oil for fuel with no smoke or dirt and had the largest floor of any vessel in the world. During the season, she carried passengers to and from Coney Island; off season she tramped Pittsburgh to New Orleans. March 11, 1929 she was stranded on the shore at Coney Island on a rapidly falling river, but was released several weeks later when another rise in water came. October, 1929 en route to St. Louis she struck Paul Jones Rock, eight miles below St. Louis and had to be towed and docked at New Orleans. In 1941 she was taken to Dravo Marine Ways, Neville Island, Pennsylvania and given sponsons and other improvements increasing her width. On September 9, 1947 while moored at the Wood Street Wharf, Pittsburgh, in the Monongahela River, her fuel tanks exploded setting the superstructure afire from one end to the other in a matter of seconds. She was destroyed with a loss of 19 lives. No passengers were aboard at the time. Subsequent investigation by the Coast Guard attributed the cause of the fire and explosion to welding being done near the fuel tanks by the Chief Engineer. The tanks were holding about 27,000 gallons of fuel oil. The wreck was removed December, 1947 by Crain Brothers, Incorporated on a bid of $28,500
  • PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Fire personnel hosing the Island Queen after explosion
  • Island Queen (B)


  • September 9, 1947
Local identifier
  • Neg. 2690
For Staff