The U.S. Wake Robin History

Steamer WakeRobin replaced Steamer Dandelion as a lighthouse tender in the early 1920's.
U.S. WakeRobin built for the Department of Commerce, Lighthouse Department 15th district.  Designed as a lighthouse tender.  Built 1926 by Dravo at Neville Island Pennsylvania, a steal hull,  182' x 43' x 5.3.  Condensing High Pressure engines 18  strokes 7 1/2 foot. 550 horse power.
Call letters NRXQ and radio telephone dial number 125583.
1938 The vessel is taken over by Treasury Department and made part of the United States Coast Guard. The Crew uniforms change to Coast Guard uniforms.
Prior to 1941 the U.S. WakeRobin made 4 trips per season from St. Louis to St. Paul.  In 1941 She was replaced by the Cutter Sycamore for area north of Dubuque:  The Lantana for the area Dubuque to Saverton, Missouri, and the Popular for the area Saverton to St. Louis.
The U.S. WakeRobin like the cutters of today, always towed a buoy barge, .  She was known for throwing a huge swell from her wheel.  Her crew includes Captain Perry Ruby, Master    Captain William Nolden, Pilot.    Captain Harry Andreesen, Mate.  (Later Captain Nolden became Master and Andreesen became Mate and Pilot)  In 1945 she is given two B & H three pass water tube boilers and fuel burners.  After 1950 She operated under lease to U.S. Engineers, Memphis and shortly after they took title in 1955 She was sold at public sale to Coment River Company, Cincinnati Ohio.  In Cincinnati she was a landing boat with little appreciable change in architecture until sold to Captain Dennis Trone.  He took her to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where in winter 1975-76 changes were made to use her as a harbor landing boat.  1978 towed to Illinois River Captain Trone Still had her.  Most all brass was gone from engines, engine room, pitmans shaft and wheel when at Tresler dock Mickey Frye removed levers, life boards and name boards (mounted)  A cylinder cover is in Jim Blum's collection.
Early 1980 vessel is purchased by Northern Kentucky restaurateur Benjamin L. Bernstein, who towed the vessel back to Cincinnati Ohio. Bernstein had plans to renovate the vessel into a floating 400 seat restaurant modeled after the Mike Fink restaurant, another sternwheeler, for the Jefferson Indiana waterfront. After surveying structural integrity plans for the restaurant renovation were scraped.  The Helm has been removed and restored and is in the collection of Alan Bernstein.
The vessel was placed in storage in Cincinnati  fleeting area, where vandals completed the transformation of the U.S. WakeRobin into the USS Nightmare in 1992.  As the USS Nightmare the vessel is in an arrested state of decay and proudly used as one of America's premier haunted riverboats. Spring 1998 Gateway Clipper Fleet  leases vessel for operation in Pittsburgh PA.

We are always interested in adding to our history file
of the U.S. WakeRobin.
If you are an old crew member or have
information please

Information provided by Waterway journal, Captain Allen Fiedler and  1946 Inland River Record.


A note from present owners: "The Wake Robin is a Dravo built vessel. Built in 1926 for the U.S. Corps of Engineers as a light tender. She changed hands into the Coast Guard when they were given the task to maintain the Navigation lights. She has served many utility purposes including Harbor docks head boat, Excursion boarding platform, a floating warehouse, and in 1992 was transformed into her present use as a haunted riverboat. She is in poor condition from age and lack of care and vandals. Most every thing of historical value has been removed. The steam engine cores are still aboard but have been stripped. The helm has been refurbished and is on display at an Applebee's restaurant in Covington Ky. We have some old photo's of her in her prime and I know a lady who also makes a hobby of researching old steamboats If you are interested Her name is Mrs. Virginia Bennent and she lives in Covington KY. Her phone number should be readily available from 606 area code information. The Wake robin is one of two built at the same time for the same purpose. Both were named for Flowers and the other I am told is long gone. Hope this helps, Would be happy to assist further if you have specific information requirements. I also would be interested in any information you compile in addition to the above. Good Luck and Happy Haunting.... Captain Allen"

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