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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Kodak in Knox County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

Steamboat Times on the French Broad

 
 
Steamboat Times on the French Broad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, November 25, 2017
1. Steamboat Times on the French Broad Marker
Inscription. The Lucile Borden traveled the French Broad River under Captain James E. Newman at a time before other modes of transport had come to the area.

In the late 1800s, roughly 50 country stores served the needs of residents along or near the French Broad River from Knoxville upstream to Dandridge, a distance of 54 river miles. Receiving groceries, hardware, and dry goods from Knoxville wholesalers was difficult with no railroads or graded roads into the region.

In 1890, Captain James E. Newman, an experienced riverboat pilot, commissioned the construction of his own steamboat. Newman and his family lived at Seven Islands.

Named after the three-year-old daughter of a friend, the Lucile Borden was a wooden hulled sternwheeler, 86 feet long and 14 feet wide. Specifically designed to fit the twistingly shallow, sometimes swift and sometimes slow French Broad River, the Lucile Borden could travel through water less than two feet deep without scraping the bottom.

Freight costs varied. One customer shipped a jug of whiskey from Knoxville upstream for a dime. Bartered goods - eggs, chickens, apples, and other produce - collected by upland merchants were transported downstream to be sold in Knoxville at the discretion of the riverboat captain. Passengers traveled for cents; an extra 15 cents would provide
Steamboat Times on the French Broad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, November 25, 2017
2. Steamboat Times on the French Broad Marker
them a meal.

In 1894, a second steamboat, the Telephone (later renamed the Emma Marie) was added to serve the French Broad watershed, although records indicate that the steamboat business on the river was never a profitable venture.

Construction of a road, availability of the dependable Ford Model T, and completion of a railroad between Knoxville and Sevierville in 1909 brought to a close the Golden Age of steamboats on the French Broad River.

French Broad River History. Under the provisions of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1880, a project was undertaken on the lower French Broad Rier to create a channel with a minimum depth of 2. feet during times of extreme low water. (The channel close to you was constructed for that purpose.) Channel improvements eventually made 90 of the river's 121 miles in Tennessee navigable, from Knoxville to Leadvale at the mouth of the Nolichucky River.

Above, Captain James E. Newman and his wife Martha Ann Atchley. Their son Brownie "grew up" on the Lucile Borden working several jobs and eventually became its pilot.

Schedule of the Steamer Lucile Borden. * Leave Catlettsburg Tuesday and Friday at 7 a.m., arrive same day at Knoxville at 5 p.m.

* Leave Knoxville Thursday and Saturday at a.m., arrive same day at Catlettsburg at 5 p.m.

* Leave Catlettsburg for Dandridge
Steamboat Times on the French Broad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse, November 25, 2017
3. Steamboat Times on the French Broad Marker
7 a.m. every Monday, arrive at Dandrige same day at 12 m.

* Leave Dandridge for Catlettsburg 2 p.m. arrive at Catlettsburg same day at 5 p.m.

* Leave Sevierville with flat boat every Monday and Thursday and connect with Steamer at Catlettsburg.

* Good rooms for both ladies and gentlemen, with nice beds. Meals on the boat at 15 cents each.

* This is the finest, best equipped and fastest boat on the water from Catlettsburg to Knoxville.

Everybody having freight or desiring to go to Knoxville will do well to try this boat.

J.E. Newman, Capt.
Newspaper ad from The Sevier County Republican, 15 August 1890.

The Lucile Borden made a rip twice a week, servicing mercantiles near the river including several in Sevierville and other adjacent communities. One Sevier County customer, John Walker (grandfather of Knoxville grocer of some fame, Cas Walker) owned a general store at Fair Garden five miles from the river.

The image above depicts the Lucile Borden docked in Knoxville with the old South Knox Bridge, now the Gay Street Bridge, in the background. Captain Newman stands on the top above the boats name. In 1892, ownership of the Lucile Borden was transferred to the Three Rivers Packet Company, while retaining the captain. A 'packet company' gets its name from the mail packets carried
Steamboat Lucile Borden image. Click for full size.
By Tom Bosse
4. Steamboat Lucile Borden
under government contract. The term came to mean, 'a steamer line operating on a regular, fixed daily schedule between two or more cities.'
 
Erected by Tennessee State Parks.
 
Location. 35° 56.295′ N, 83° 41.179′ W. Marker is near Kodak, Tennessee, in Knox County. Marker is on Kelly Lane, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is located in the Seven Islands State Birding Park. Marker is in this post office area: Kodak TN 37764, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Kelly Family Farm (approx. 0.7 miles away); Treaty of Dumplin Creek (approx. 4 miles away); Henry's Station (approx. 4.1 miles away); Dumplin Creek Treaty (approx. 5.3 miles away); Newell's Station (approx. 6.1 miles away); The Great Indian War Trail (approx. 6.2 miles away); Knox County / Sevier County (approx. 7 miles away); Ramsey House Plantation (approx. 8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Kodak.
 
Also see . . .  Seven Islands State Birding Park. (Submitted on November 25, 2017, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee.)
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 28, 2017. This page originally submitted on November 25, 2017, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 68 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 25, 2017, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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