Suzassippi’s Mississippi: Steamboat to Dreamboat

Mississippi steamboat

Source: Author’s collection, Life Magazine, August 24, 1953.

While paging through an old Life magazine, my eye caught the “Mississippi” in this advertisement.  Steamboats have been part of the history and culture of the Mississippi River from its Lake Itasca, Minnesota origins to where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico past New Orleans.  By 1953, Seagram had owned the Four Roses distillery for 10 years, having bought it in 1943 (Kleber, 2001).  The steamboat to dreamboat ad is one of many that have drawn on the romance of the steamboats of the Mississippi to sell everything from movies to bourbonYou can view a few of the many on Thomson’s steamboat illustrations pages.

The illustrations in Stuart Purser’s Steamboats on the Mississippi resemble those in the ad, although I could not find any actual steamboats matching the design of the Four Roses ad.  Mark Davis’ article on the murals commissioned during the public arts work projects of the New Deal Administration indicates steamboats were favorites, as were others depicting life on the Mississippi.

The Mississippi River Commission was established June 28 1879 with the assistance of Mississippi Senator L. Q. C. Lamar (US Army Corps of Engineers), to regulate the growing rivalry between military and civilian uses of the river.

Categories: Heritage Tourism


3 replies

  1. The vessel in the photo appears to be a model ship.

    60% grain neutral spirits? Sounds like vodka and brown coloring. yuck!


    • Yes, pretty sure it was a model, as I don’t recall roses ever being large enough for that kind of cargo. :) I looked at models of steamboats, too, so concluded it was likely one done just for the ad–maybe even just a backdrop! Still it was fun looking at all of the varieties.


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