Great River Road 14 - George M. Verity River Museum, Keokuk, IA

A tour of a classic Mississippi River Steamboat.

You can’t think about the Mississippi without picturing a classic steamboat heading upstream with smoke billowing from its stacks and the big back paddlewheel turning.

Keokuk

The City of Keokuk has an original riverboat that now functions as a museum. We stopped and took the $4 tour.

The boat was built in 1927 and worked on the River until 1960. It was headed for the scrapyard but saved to serve as a reminder of the golden days on the Mississippi.

Steam Powered RV?

Powered by coal, the boat sucked up river water to heat up into steam. In the process the water would get distilled so in addition to fresh water the boat also had onboard generators for electricity, a refrigeration unit, laundry, kitchen, and bathrooms to support a crew of 12-14 people.

A Nice Effort

Keokuk has made efforts to make this part of its city nice - there were fresh paved sidewalks, lots of picnic tables and kiosks, and even a city-owned 3 site RV park with water and electric hookups for $16/night.

The Reality

While we enjoyed the tour, the Riverboat isn’t in great shape.

It had a slightly shabby feel, it all needs paint, sections of floor looked loose and most of the historic photos were faded and musty. The city really should pump some money into it if it wants the Riverboat to continue as an attraction - currently it just looks neglected.

The boat is located next to an active trainyard, right by a train bridge, passenger vehicle bridge, lock, electric plant and water plant.

It might have been the gray rainy day we visited (or the 6’ chain link fence around the Museum) but there was little traffic and the area just couldn’t shake off a ‘drug dealer’ vibe. When I suggested overnighting at the cheap RV park I was quickly shot down.

The boiler / ticking time bomb.

The boiler / ticking time bomb.

Following the steam back.

Following the steam back.

I liked seeing where all the components came from.

I liked seeing where all the components came from.

Full steam ahead, Scotty!

Full steam ahead, Scotty!

Each boat had a diver who could check for damage under the water line.

Each boat had a diver who could check for damage under the water line.

Boyink at the controls.

Boyink at the controls.

The paddlewheel.

The paddlewheel.

The nameplate.

The nameplate.

A 50's era radar unit. I didn't think once about turning it into sculpture. Not once.

A 50's era radar unit. I didn't think once about turning it into sculpture. Not once.

Shabby or Nice?

When you tour historic things like the Riverboat - do you prefer them shabby (and more affordable) or nicer-kept (but more expensive)?

2 Comments Great River Road 14 - George M. Verity River Museum, Keokuk, IA

  1. Picture of KevinKevinOctober 24, 2015

    Great images - especially the RCA Radar with your reflection!  Are you sure you didn’t take that home with you???

  2. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkOctober 24, 2015

    The bolts holding it down were pretty big..;)

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