Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Steamer Camelia

Around 1900, when the residents of New Orleans wanted to get away to the country for a day or a weekend, they often turned to the steamer Camelia, one of several passenger vessels to ply the waters of Lake Pontchartrain over the years before the causeway was built. 

Here are two accounts of the steamer Camelia (and the New Camelia) provided by David Carambat and Dr. C. Howard Nichols. 

Click on the images below for a larger and more readable view. 

"St. Tammany Farmer, 30 November, 1878; 
Owing to low water, the steamer NEW CAMELIA was delayed the previous Thursday, arriving at Old Landing around nine that night. The postmistress, Mrs. Dumas, who was about to retire for the night, immediately distributed the mail when it arrived. The editor thought this service deserved honorable mention" (Schooners and Scows, Donna Burge Adams, 1988)

For more information about the Camelia lake steamer, CLICK HERE

Below is a collection of photographs of the New Camelia from Denis Bechac


Exhibit diorama at Mandeville Trailhead Museum


New Orleans Times Democrat July 28, 1912

What the New Camelia Is Doing for the Summer Can't-Get-Aways.

One of the chapters in the history of Lake Pontchartrain and the boats that ply its waters is recorded in the steamer New Camelia, which just now, aside from its regular trips, is making special Wednesday and Sunday excursions. 

Built in the early 70s, the Camelia was originally run in the Mandeville and Covington trade, with regular trips to Pass Christian and other points. Several years later, coming into the possession of Capt. W. G. Coyle, in 1878 the boat was entirely rebuilt. 

In 1882 she was again rebuilt, and so thorough was the work that to-day nothing remains of the original boat but the walking beam.

In creating the New Camelia, the old lines of her hull were carefully preserved. but to distinguish her from the first boat and preserve her identity in perpetuity, "New" was prefixed to the name.

The New Camelia lost nothing in its evolution into a modern boat, and at no time in its history has been the victim of marine disaster, or marred its record as a safe and reliable passenger and excursion host. The officers and crew have for years been identified with the lake trade. From father to son, during recent years, the Hanovers have been in command, the present Capt. Hanover succeeding his father. 

Pilot Bernard Johnson is famous for never having missed a landing on the darkest or stormiest night. Engineer John Eppin and his assistant are both "old-timers." Chief Officer Emile Palmer is a deep water sailor, who shifted his allegiance from ocean to lake, and has been so long on the New Camelia that he seems part and parcel of it. Purser A. Bonnecaze is an expert, ever on the alert for the care and comfort of his passengers, 500 being the big boats's capacity. 

Chef Eugene Mugnier is in charge of the restaurant, and his brother, Charles Mugnier operate the liquid refreshment department. All in all, a more trustworthy or competent set of men never operated a boat, and aside from the pleasures of the trip itself, they largely contribute to the comforts and enjoyments of the passengers.

Wednesday or Sunday excursions on the New Camelia bring much enjoyment. especially to those who have never enjoyed a trip across Lake Pontchartrain at twenty-two miles to Mandeville, at better than eleven knots an hour, thence to Lewisburg and up the beautiful Tchefuncta river, past historic Madisonville, the old-time cotton port of Louisiana. Houltonville, the lumber town, and finally to Pineland Park, where there is a two-hour lay over for enjoyment under the giant oaks. 

This is just an outline of what the Camelia offers on excursion days, nearly a hundred miles on the water, going in the morning and returning the same evening. To those who do not care to be hampered with baskets and picnic under the trees at Pineland Park, regular meals or a la carte on board, personally prepared by Mungnier, can be had.

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