The Steamer Admiral and the Streckfus Steamers: A Personal View

November 26, 2013 Posted by: Tom Dewey, Librarian

St. Louis is a river town. And many St. Louisans have a fondness for time spent on the Admiral, one of the Mississippi River's most popular excursion boats.  The boat was in active use near the St. Louis riverfront from 1940 through the late 1970s.  After that the boat remained moored to the riverbanks as a casino.  It is now gone.

Annie Blum's book The Steamer Admiral is an entertaining and informative book that tells the story of the boat and the family behind it. The author begins her story with a memoir of her years working on the steamer Admiral and gives great detail to the features of the amazing boat.  The Admiral was a very large, beautiful all metal boat and featured a distinctive Art Deco design.  The dance floor accommodated up to 2,000 people and frequently featured live bands. The Admiral was also the flagship of a historic family company by the name of 'Streckfus' that ran boats on two major rivers beginning in the 1800s.

Using memories and historical data, the author tells the story of the family and how the Admiral became the excursion boat she was. The book acts as a memoir and a document of how the boat was operated.  Along the way, the Mississippi River is always a big player.  The book also features wonderful black and white photographs, giving readers a glimpse back in time at a truly unique and beautiful riverboat.

The author gives an idea of what it was like on the local riverboat when she states, "Something on the Admiral seemed pleasing to every sense: the sights of moving river scenes, of other people, of the dancing lights in the city at night plus the sounds of good live music and of the machinery of a living, almost breathing steamboat."

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