S. S. Island Queen in Cincinnati at High Water

Riverboats and Jazz

Although it often seemed like it, not all the riverboats on the Mississippi were operated by the Streckfus family. The S. S. Island Queen was run by Captain George F. Schott, a Philadelphian, and was based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Its connection to New Orleans jazz bands was quite brief, consisting of a scant two seasons (1928-29) during which Sidney Desvigne led the band on board. The S. S. Island Queen was built in Midland, Pennsylvania, by the Midland Barge Company and completed in Cincinnati in 1924-25. Outfitted especially for the excursion trade, it could carry up to 4,100 passengers. During the 1940’s it was owned by the Coney Island Company of Cincinnati and in 1941 was remodeled to increase capacity. This boat was the successor to other boats of the same name that ran excursions between Cincinnati and the Coney Island Amusement Park several miles up the Ohio River. Like many riverboats, the history of the Island Queen ended under tragic circumstances. Its fuel tanks exploded while the boat was moored in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in September 1947. The fire which resulted completely destroyed the Island Queen, with nineteen lives lost, none of which were passengers.