A.J. Sweeney & Son of Wheeling built the stern-wheel steam-powered packet Sidney in 1880 for Capt. William M. List of Wheeling, W. Va. William named the boat for his mother, Sidney McMechen-List. Sweeney had the hull for the boat built at the Flesher Boat Yard, Murraysville, West Virginia. At Wheeling, Sweeney completed the boat and furnished the steam machinery. Sidney was 221.3 feet long, 35.5 feet wide and the hull was 5.5 feet deep. Sidney pulled a very shallow draft and was considered a low-water steamboat. Capt. Fred Way, Jr. wrote that the Sidney was the only steamboat ever to leave the Wheeling ways painted a color other than white. Sidney was painted yellow with colorful trim, List’s mother’s favorite colors. Capt. List accepted delivery of Sidney July 17th, 1880. Monday, July 19, 1880, the Wheeling Register carried the item: “Capt. List’s new boat, the Sidney is all completed and ready for business. It has been handsomely furnished throughout and is a model of convenience”. Capt. List placed Sidney in the Wheeling-Cincinnati trade leaving Wheeling every Saturday at 3 p.m. Sidney ran this trip weekly for two years and in 1882, was sold to the Diamond Jo Line of Dubuque, Iowa to run on the upper Mississippi River, running St. Louis-St. Paul. February 3rd, 1911, Capt. John Streckfus, owner of the Streckfus Steamers Co. of Rock Island, Illinois purchased the company, including the steamers Sidney, St. Paul, Quincy and Dubuque. Sidney was updated into a first class excursion steamboat and this is the period, the early teens, that Sidney has been modeled. Sidney ran Peoria, Illinois to St. Paul, Minnesota during the summer and out of New Orleans in the winter. John’s son, Capt. Roy Streckfus took over Sidney, basing her at New Orleans. The Streckfus Line was known for entertaining their guests with great music. In 1919, the seventeen year-old Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong began his professional career when he first left New Orleans accepting an offer from Streckfus Steamers to play in Sidney’s new band aboard the excursion boat as it plied the Mississippi all the way up to St. Paul. On Sidney’s hurricane deck sat a calliope and a musician was always aboard to play it for the crowd. In 1921, Sidney was rebuilt and renamed Washington. The steamer Washington ran excursions on the rivers through the 1937 season and was dismantled at St. Louis in 1938. Henry M. Shreve’s steamboat Washington, built in 1815, was Wheeling’s first steamboat. The Washington, as Sidney was finally known, was the last Wheeling built steamboat on the river lasting fifty-eight years. Testimony to the quality of Wheeling built steamers.
John Bowman built this model of the stern-wheel steam-powered packet Sidney.