Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Beulah Ray 1905

After the History Center received this postcard we researched the Beulah Ray and found this article about her in the Vincennes Commercial on July 14, 1905. 

"The Beulah Ray, Edwin Kuhn’s splendidly built new gasoline boat, made her trial trip Thursday and it was a great success. At 2 o’clock the engines were started and the boat pushed away from the Illinois bank of the Wabash, passed through the open draw of the wagon bridge and landed at the foot of Broadway street to take on the passengers who had been invited to make the trip.
There was a large crowd on the bank to wave goodbye to the craft and its’ human freight. Twice the boat pulled up to the B & O Railroad bridge and backed up, awaiting the bridge men to turn the draw. But for some reason the draw was clogged and refused to work. Then it was decided to run under the bridge and the boat cleared it nicely, missing the iron frame work by a few inches.

The Beulah Ray was manned by Edwin Cohen, the master and owner; Preston Burress, the pilot; the engineer and manager; two carpenters and two deckhands. When the boat neared the northern limits of Vincennes, Mayor Green stepped to the bow and addressing Edward Kuhn:  “Mr. Cohen, in the presence of these guests and in the name of the citizens of Vincennes as an appreciation of your generosity, enterprise,and encouragement in building the finest, largest and best craft that now floats on the beautiful Wabash, I present you with this bottle of champagne and bid you drink.” Mr. Cohen modestly accepted the kind words and the bottle and drank the contents amid loud cheers.

The boat continued on its course, passing some of the grandest River scenery this country can produce, until Russellville was reached, a little after 5 o’clock, where the Beulah Ray was moored alongside the Frances Willard and the passengers went ashore for supper.

On the trip up, gangs of boys were seen frolicking in the ‘old swimming hole,’ and numerous mussel camps were passed. These camps exist even in the city limits and as many as 35 or 40 were noticed.
As many boats were out in the river gathering the shells. At the camps tons and tons of shells were piled up, ready to be shipped to the button factories. Many tanks, in which the shells are cooked, were steaming hot, especially at Russellville. The mussel meat is fed to hogs after it is searched for pearls and slugs.

On the return trip a half hour stop was made at 7 Mile Island, the boat arriving at the wharf at 8:45 PM. The moon shone silvery, the stream was placid and all nature was in a mood to make all on board remember the trip as one of the most enjoyable of their lives.

W. D. Byrd, of St. Louis pearl buyer, was a passenger from Russellville. He has had much experience riding on steamers. He said the Beulah Ray is an ideal boat; that she rides easier and swifter than most of the boats on the Ohio River.

To a man up a tree, the Beulah Ray looks complete, but there are a number of improvements yet to be made. Many trimmings will be added in the boat and it will be equipped with electric lights. The boat is almost as large but much finer that the Piankishaw now gone by the wayside which was the largest boat in these waters in recent years. A 17 hp gasoline engine runs the Beulah Ray. Mr. Kuhn, the builder, deserves much credit for launching such a staunch craft in the Wabash.