"the Packet Excel on the Smoky Hill River in 1854"

Casein on Rag Board
12” X 16”
From the Collection of Tim and Karen Thompson, Bogue, Kansas


To quote my good friend, historian, writer, editor, and flautist, Sonie Liebler, "steamboats chugging up the Kansas River? Really?  Really!”

I felt some of the riverboats on the Kansas or Kaw River, needed to be painted, and in 2004 I met Sonie Liebler and we began collaborating on a series of paintings of boats which navigated the river in the 1850s.

The first riverboat to steer its way down the Kaw was the McKeesport, Pennsylvania built EXCEL.  Finished in June of 1851, EXCEL worked the Ohio, Illinois, and upper Mississippi Rivers.  She survived a sinking and ice floes.

In 1854, EXCEL carried supplies from Ft. Leavenworth to Fort Riley.  In June, the EXCEL, with about 60 passengers, took a small excursion up the Smoky Hill River.  The boat turned around after encountering tight bends, probably near present day Chapman.  It was the only year the EXCEL ran the Kaw.

EXCEL survived until eventually being snagged on the Osage Chute, Missouri during March of 1856.