History of the Luxury Boats on the Mississippi River


              ….Mr. (J.L. “Jim”) Britt was a steam boat buff.  He planned at one time during his early life to be a steam boat pilot, but the railroads came and the river traffic dwindled causing him to remain a farmer.  The only means of transportation from the area to the center of trade was by water.  Mr. Britt recalls that there was a packet at every bend of the river, with many of them docking at Laconia Landing.  He was familiar with the luxury boats on the river, especially the Kate Adams that ran from Memphis to Arkansas City twice each week.  There were three of the luxury boats having the name Kate Adams, the last one burned in dock at Memphis.  There were some 200 state rooms on these boats and the fare for such accommodations from Laconia Landing to Memphis was $3.00 which included state room, meals and entertainment.  The boats were 240 feet long, the lower deck being used to store cotton, cotton seed and other freight and on the upper deck were the state rooms, and a large dance hall encircled by a promenade deck.

              The fare for a trip from Memphis to New Orleans on one of these luxury boats was $10 which paid for state room, food and entertainment.  Often the people of the (Mississippi) township organized parties for a cruise on these boats which developed a close relationship among its inhabitants.  Mr. Britt recalls that W.C. Handy, the writer of St. Louis Blues was one of the musicians providing the music for many of these river cruises….


(Excerpted with permission from the 1973 Programs of the Desha County, Arkansas, Historical Society’s article on the History of Snow Lake Related presented March 12, 1973.)