J.S.(1901)
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Service History


The wooden steamboat J.S. was a 292 ton steam vessel built at Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1901 at a cost of $13,450. The boat was built for John Streckfus, her namesake, who owned the Acme Packet Company out of Rock Island, Illinois. She was the first of the magnificent Streckfus boats built. The J.S. was one of the most luxurious boats on the river and had a large ballroom and bandstand on the second floor. The J.S. had no passenger staterooms, the space instead was devoted to the large dance floor and bandstand. She started out as a morning packet from Davenport and Rock Island, Iowa. Because the vessel was so heavy and had problems with the rapids she became an excursion boat. The J.S. started out in 1902 running excursions from New Orleans to St Paul on the Mississippi River and also on the Columbus, Ohio, Tennessee and Illinois River.
Final Voyage


June 18th, 1910 while traveling on the Mississippi River between LaCrosse, Wisconsin and Lansing, Iowa at Bad Axe Bend with between 1,100 and 1,500 passengers on board, a young boy notified a crew member that smoke was coming through the planks of the hold. After attempting to extinguish the fire, it was decided to evacuate the passengers to Bad Axe Island. So Captain George Nichols nosed the vessel close to the island. A man confined to the ship's jail in the hold supposedly set the fire (he died in the fire). The boats North Star and Harriet towed the J.S. out into the river to make it easier to put out the fire, but to no avail. The vessel burnt to the waterline. The J.S. was then towed to the Wisconsin side of the river and beached about two mile north of Victory, Wisconsin. Rescued passengers were ferried to Genoa, Stoddard, and DeSoto, Wisconsin by numerous boats.
Today


The wreck was towed to shore and beached in a position that did not interfere with navigation on the river. In 1910 the boilers were removed by the government steamer David Tipton.
© 2017 - Wisconsin Sea Grant, Wisconsin Historical Society