Information from Carol Szwedko
who is in the possession of the 1951 book
Carol recently purchased the book from an on-line used book seller
and found it was autographed by Capt. Bill Menke.
The Golden Rod was built in 1908-1909 by the Pope Dock Company
for W. R. Markle. She is 200 ft. long and 45 ft. wide. (the largest
showboat ever built) She had 21 boxes on two levels clustered about
the stage and all around the front of the balcony. Her capacity was
1,400 (later cut to under 1,000 to avoid certian additional taxes.
On the outside she was very plain,the least ornate of all the showboats.
But on the inside she was the most highly decorated of them all. Ceilings
and walls were studded with 2,500 lights clustered in intricate designs.
Gilt friezes and highly wrought brass decorated balcony and box railings.
Draperies and upolstery were of red valour, and the floor was richly
carpeted. Full length mirrors exaggerated the size of the spacious
auditorium. The stage was large and was elaborately decorated in frieze
and gilt and was equipped with 3 drops and 8 sets. Markle used his
unlimited credit to install every convience known to the river.
At first she was called W.R. Markle`s New Showboat, but his sister
suggested the name Golden Rod. A special steamboat the W. R. Markle
was built to do the towing.
In 1913, Markle lost the Golden Rod by forclosure. (he was a gambler
and lost all his money) She was sold at auction for $11,000.00---less
than a fourth of the original cost.
Markle who had set new standards for the showboat world, got a job
in Pittsburgh on the water front, as a night watchman, for $10.00
In 1922 the Golden Rod was purchased by Capt.
Bill Menke. With steam heat for the winter and a cooling system
for summer, she played a 12 month season.
The Golden Rod received so much publicity as "The World`s Greatest
Showboat" that they did not need to advertise much. A simple anouncement
of her arrival in the local papers, and framed posters set up on the
warf or nearby street were all they needed.
The steamers;  Liberty,
 Wenonah, and Crown Hill succesively towed the Golden Rod. During
the summer of 1930 she was tied up above Aspinwall, Pa. (note: at
the Montrose Hotel, in O`Hara Twp.) for a stand of 17 weeks. In 1931
she was back for 17 more weeks.
In the summer of 1937 she went to St. Louis for repairs, and there
she stayed at the Locust St. Landing. (she was still there in 1951
when this book was published.)
GOLDEN ROD Plays
From 1930, July and August issues of the Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph
and Post Gazzette.
While in Pittsburgh in July of 1930 the GOLDEN ROD docked
at the Montrose Hotel Landing on the Allegheny River.
July 21st, the season's opening play was "Tilty Ann". This was preformed
by the boat's regular company of show boat actors.
Cast for this season: Misses Grace Robertson, Charlotte Vetter, Marie
McLain, Messers. Frank Anton, Carl Replogle, Roy Sheets, Raymond Rameau
and Clinton Cole.
Aug. 12th, the "The Hoodlum" opened.
Aug. 17th, "Lena Rivers" opened.
Aug. 24th, "Driven From Home" opened.
GOLDEN ROD Moves to St Charles,
By 1988 the Goldenrod needed extensive repairs. The
city of St. Charles bought the showboat from Pierson's heirs and moved
it to St. Charles in 1990.
Ample Entertainment Inc., a group of celebrated Broadway producers
won more than 25 Tony awards, leased the Goldenrod and conducted extensive
repairs. The Goldenrod's premiere St. Charles performance was on May
Today the Goldenrod Showboat continues its prestigious tradition of
presenting quality dining and professional entertainment year round.
Lady Ghost Wears A Red Dress
I am attaching an article written (probably in the 50
or 60s in the Indianapolis newspaper) about the Governor Morton.
Carol S. Gromer of Indianapolis.
SINKING OF THE GOVERNOR MORTON
For many years, from the earliest settlers until after
the Civil War, Indianapolis citizens hoped that some day their thriving
village would be a river port; sincerely believed that White River
was a navigable stream.
They learned the hard way. Several arduous and expensive attempts
were made to bring steamboats and barges from the Wabash up White
River. The nearest got within 32 miles and hung up on a sandbar where
it was derelict for six months.
In 1865, the year the Civil War closed, a 100-foot twin-decked side-wheeler,
eventually named the Governor Morton (after Indiana's wartime governor),
was built in Indianapolis as a picnic and excursion steamer. It cost
For 13 months it cruised up and down White River from its mooring
spot just north of the covered National Road Bridge (at what is now
On its first voyage it was packed. It got as far upstream as Cold
Springs (about opposite 18th Street). On the return cruise, according
to Early Incidents in Indianapolis, a "fat Dutchman fell overboard."
The skipper piped all hands and lowered a lifeboat, but the "fat Dutchman"
had run hard aground on a sandbar. As the ship docked, returning from
its maiden trip, a "lady" fell from the gangplank "up to her armpits."
"A gay lothario dived over to save her--six months later they were
The "captain" was H.[enry] M.[Mansfield]
Socwell, a former Ohio River boatman. He was able to work his
craft on moonlight nights as far southwest as Waverly. Socwell was
dubbed "the admiral," by his newspaper friends.
The craft's career was beset by many mishaps--stacks knocked down
by overhead branches, getting hung up on snags and sandbars, and suffering
For 13 months the Governor Morton was the pride of the town, until,
on the night of August 6, 1866, she sank at her moorings. Several
days before she had strained her seams athwart a sandbar on her trip
Her engines went to operate a "mill of some sort," and Capt. Socwell
became one of the city's best-known grocers.
And that ended navigation of White River with the exception of the
short careers of the party boats, Helen Gould at Riverside Park, and
the Sunbeam at Broad Ripple Park in the early 1920s. The Sumbeam burned
at her mooring.
From site visitor, William W. Brewer,
My great-great-grandfather was Simeon Haigh Jr. Simeon Haigh Jr. died
in Humansville, Polk County, Missouri on 19 May 1900. I quote from
"....Mr. Haigh's ancestros [sic] have been engaged in
the woolen mill business for several generations. His great grand
father being the first successful carder of wool in England. He learned
the same business in which he was more than ordinarily successful.
He followed this business until 1857, when he entered into partnership
with his brother J. P. Haigh to conduct a coal shipping and steam
ship business on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Amongst the various
boats was the celebrated "GREAT
REPUBLIC", finest and largest passenger steamboat on either river
up to that time. In 1861 he sold out his boating business and went
back to milling."
I believe the brother mentioned was Joseph P.
Haigh, who is listed in the Pittsburgh City Directory for both 1850
and 1860 as the owner and operator of a foundry in Pittsburgh.
I have a fragment of a letter written by their father, Simeon Haigh,
from Pittsburgh in 1860. At the time he was staying at Joseph's home,
and in the letter, he mentions "the boat" and quite possibly touches
on what may have caused the breakup of the partnership between the
brothers. Unfortunately, I do not know what newspaper the above obituary
appeared in. I found the article in the family Bible after the death
of an elderly aunt. I assume it was in a Humansville newspaper, but
have not yet found the original. In any event, I thought you might
Further notes on the Haigh family:
Joseph P. Haigh is listed in Way's
Packet Directory, 1848 - 1994
as a principal, with Andrew Hartupee, of Haigh, Hartupee and Company,
of Pittsburgh, engine builders, the company that supplied the machinery
for the packet BELLE QUIGLEY in 1852, and the engines for the packet
KATE CASSEL in 1854.
Joseph P. Haigh is listed by Way's Packet Directory, 1848-1994 as
owning 1/3 of the GREAT REPUBLIC
in 1867, differing from the date in the obit. above by ten years as
does the date above when he got out of the boating business by ten
years. Way's shows him selling out of the GREAT REPUBLIC in 1871.
As newspapers are notorious for disseminating inaccurate information,
I (Riverboat Dave) an inclined to go with Way's dates.
An Albert Haigh is listed by Way's Packet Directory, 1848-94 as the
owner in 1889 of the LITTLE ACME, a 13.6 ton ferryboat at New Cumberland,
W. Va. There is no cross refference to confirm his relationship with
the Haighs above.