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'He was a giant': Capt. John Beatty ruled the river with his iconic towboat, riverboat restaurants
Legendary riverman was bigger than life

By Brent Coleman | WCPO contributor

Posted 12:00 PM, Mar 11, 2017

Copyright 2017 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

CINCINNATI -- Capt. John Beatty took to the Ohio River as if he were legendary keelboater Mike Fink and wrestled with it like Paul Bunyan would a mighty tree.

At least that’s how Cincinnati artist Tom Lohre saw it when he was a Covington Catholic High School kid. Along with twin brother Chuck, Lohre worked for Beatty’s marine rescue and salvage company during summers in the early 1970s.

“He was a giant, like Mike Fink or Paul Bunyan,” Tom Lohre said. “We were naïve, but we knew not to second-guess him.”

Those who did, such as officials with the Army Corps of Engineers who often called on Beatty to help solve problems along the river, learned just how he “could muscle his way to get his way,” Lohre said. “He took chances the Corps wouldn’t take. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. He really pushed the edge.”

WCPO Insiders can learn what role Beatty's wife played and what became of the vessel that bore her name.


Beatty's Navy, by Barbara Huffman, is a book about the life and times of one of the most revered river salvage experts of recent times.
Salvage Master, Cincinnati City Council candidate, Restaurateur, Steamboat & River History buff, Raconteur.
These are just a few of the words used to describe the lives and careers of two of the most well-known personalities on the Ohio River in recent memory. Capt. John Beatty's river career spanned much of the 20th Century. The 437 page book captures this unique era which witnessed the end of steamboating, and ushered in the age of diesel boats. The book features a Glossary, general subject index, boat index and over 70 black & white photos!

Someone reached out to me about this flag. I purchased it. It was part of an estate sale. Flag was probably given to Captain Beatty when he was the grand marshall at Tall Stacks. It was made by the Ohio Penal Industries which I think means prisoners. The stain on one side is not reflected on the other side. All in all this is an excellent 100% cotton flag to be flown on special occasions. It was signed by:

Captain John Beatty
Armen Kilijian, restorer
Mike Fletcher, engineer
Lady Di, Cook
Richard E. Stimple
Clark Brown
J. Barrie Williams
Lesle Clare Palmer
Steve L Flood, captain
Mickie Williams, asst. cook
Charlie Oak
Matt Varuts
James Tharp
Cliff Perkins
Derone K. Jump


The River: A holiday remembrance — needing job, he connects with Capt. John Beatty and his story began
Jan 1st, 2023

The riverboat captain is a storyteller, and Captain Don Sanders shares the stories of his long association with the river — from discovery to a way of love and life. This a part of a long and continuing story. This story first appeared here in October, 2018.

By Capt. Don Sanders
Special to NKyTribune

Captain John Beatty’s name had a familiar ring to my ears long before I met the legendary riverman after the DELTA QUEEN was laid up awaiting an exemption from the “Safety at Sea” law in early winter, 1970.

The week after Christmas, my wife and I were looking at a rundown mansion on lower Garrard Street in my hometown of Covington, Kentucky, and we told the sales agent we would “think about it.” What better place to mull over such a life-bending decision than at the MIKE FINK Floating Restaurant on the city’s riverfront; then owned and operated by Captain John and his wife, Clare?

Captain John Beatty’s name had a familiar ring to my ears long before I met the legendary riverman.

A new addition to the FINK complex of floating paraphernalia was a classic, vintage towboat tied to the floats behind the paddlewheel restaurant, itself, once a towboat that pushed barges on the Ohio River with the power of its steam-driven sternwheel.

Inquiring as to the ownership of the lovely older boat, it was not surprising to find that Captain John Beatty’s name was on the vessel’s documents of registration. Excusing myself from the table, I ventured astern to meet this legendary man I’d heard about since I was a boy on the river. If the purchase of a “new” home was in the air, then I need a job as the future of the DELTA QUEEN was iffy, at best.

Behind the MIKE FINK lay a long line of steel “floats,” or docks used to moor visiting customers arriving afloat at the legendary river dining spot, as well as a select-few private riverboats that permanently docked alongside the immaculately-maintained floating berths which once held dredge pipes for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) before Captain Beatty acquired them. Beatty was known as the premier salvage operator on the inland rivers.

Captain Beatty and the MIKE FINK Floating Restaurant on Covington’s Riverfront.

The Corps called on Captain Beatty for their worst and most dangerous salvage jobs. Such was the time the government would trust only him to raise sunken tank barges wedged into the gates of McAlpine Dam at Louisville filled with hazardous hydrogen chloride where one mishap might release of a deadly cloud of green gas, the same stuff used with appalling results in the First World War.

As I approached the towboat built in an Art Deco style with soft curves instead of sharp corners and having graceful portholes set into the steel hull that added to the charm of the boat I later discovered was built a year before my birth, I asked a deckhand busy at something on-deck where I could find the captain.

“That’s him over there.”

Crossing over the deck at my own invitation, I approached a large, burly man wearing a bright-red woolen lumberjack shirt bent over at whatever he was fixing. Waiting until after he finished, I inquired:

“Looking for a Mate? I’m the Mate on the DELTA QUEEN.”

A collection of all the floating salvage equipment known generally as “Beatty’s Navy.”

“You ever work salvage before?” the big man, nearly as heavy as Captain Wagner, but not as tall, gruffly asked while eyeing me skeptically.

“No, but I can learn.”

“Ain’t got time to teach you. We’re leaving tomorrow for Gallipolis to raise barges. If you want a deckhand’s job, be here, and packed, at eight in the morning.”

With those few words, Cap’n John Beatty hired me on the first crew of his newly-acquired twin screw, diesel-powered towboat he was fixing to name for Mrs. Beatty, the CLARE E. BEATTY, formerly the SEMET, built by Dravo Shipyards, Pittsburgh, PA, in 1940. Now that I had a job, I returned to the FINK to discuss purchasing a home.

Returning early the following morning, well before eight, the CLARE was cold, and a heavy dew condensed on the deck made walking on the steel somewhat awkward. Eventually, I discovered the crew inside the cookhouse at the stern of the boat hunched over the remnants of half-drunken cups of strong riverboat coffee. The cook was one of a pair of fellows who’d been hired on the crew since soon after Beatty brought the boat to the Covington Landing. His partner was one of four men on deck. I was another.

Captain Beatty soon appeared looking grim from inside the MIKE FINK where he had converted the pilothouse of the old paddlewheel towboat into his office. Without a word of greeting to any of his crew, he sternly commanded,

“Get ready to go.”

Soon the CLARE faced-up on a collection of all the floating salvage equipment known generally as “Beatty’s Navy.” Included in that fleet were several empty hopper barges, two cranes – one steam-powered and called BIG JOHN, and the other, the diesel-electric-powered HERCULES; two World-War-Two-era Navy minesweepers connected at their bows with massive steel girders of a bridge the captain salvaged earlier in his career, and assorted pipe flats and such. What all this mismatched equipment had in common was, it all leaked! As I was soon to learn, each floating vessel required constant scrutiny and individual attention – especially the minesweepers. Inside those ships, the sounds of dripping water echoing off the steel walls reminded me of being deep in a cavern within the earth.

As the new year approached, temperatures plummeted to below zero on the Ohio River making our deck duties especially tricky.

As the new year approached, temperatures plummeted to below zero on the Ohio River making our deck duties especially tricky. Besides the usual dangers associated with ice on the decks, the lines, or ropes, we used to lock the fleet through a dam or for whatever other purposes, would soon freeze into the shapes they were left in, outside in the extreme cold. Coiling the lines made uncoiling them nearly impossible; so we laid them stretched out lengthwise on the decks. It was amusing to pick up one end of a long line and see that the entire length of the frozen rope was more like the limb of a tree than it was something made of flexible fiber. Even more amusing was my very long handlebar mustache that instantly froze as soon as I stepped outside the CLARE and into the bitter air. As it froze, I swore I heard a “clunk” as it solidified.

Before midnight, on the 31st of December, as New Year’s 1971, overtook the old, the CLARE was in Gallipolis Lock, about eight miles downstream from our destination. As the pilothouse clock chimed the mitternacht hour, Captain Beatty pulled hard on the cord attached to the beautiful set of Kahlenberg air horns on the roof and welcomed in another year on the river. For the first time since I met the Captain, he smiled, and then wished us all a “Happy New Year!” After a minute passed, Cap’n John turned and looked grimly out the pilothouse window as the revelry ended as quickly as it began and I went into the wintry blast to stand by my line and waited for the upper lock gate to open. As soon as the lock blew a quick toot, the CLARE answered in kind. It was the signal to “let go,” as the Captain came ahead on the diesel engines and the tow scrapped dust from the lock wall as steel ground against cement. We were slowly underway, again.

The current in the Ohio River was running swiftly, and though the distance was short to where several barges lay sunken on the ice piers in front of Gallipolis city, it would be several hours before we would get there.

“Better get ya some rest,” Cap’n Beatty advised. “Yer gonna be needin’ it.”

I laid across my bunk with my clothes on and hung my boots off the end of the rack until a shout from someone announced our arrival at Gallipolis. Outside, the frigid air stung my face as I watched while the river was piling up around the concrete ice piers as the salvage rig slowly crept up to them. Hefty wire cables from the minesweepers were made fast to the heavy steel rings hanging from the lower ends of two of the three structures built years earlier to shelter steamboats from crushing ice flows whenever the river froze, and the ice was grinding towards the sea. The sharp clang of the steel rings, as they struck the cement piers, reminded me of mooring rings smacking against cobblestone levees at times I had secured the headlines of the AVALON or the DELTA QUEEN to them. With the lines out and tight, Captain Beatty reduced the throttles of the CLARE’s twin engines, and the entire fleet dropped slowly downstream until it settled against the stout wires made fast the ice piers. For the foreseeable future, this would be our base of operations and what we could call “home.”

The government would trust only him to raise sunken tank barges wedged into the gates of McAlpine Dame at Louisville filled with hazardous hydrogen chloride.

Without wasting valuable time, the Captain immediately ordered his deck force to start breaking up the conglomeration of barges and cranes and start making up a smaller tow to eventually get into position alongside the partly-submerged hopper barges piled against the upper ends of the government piers. The loaded coal barges broke loose from a fleet somewhere upstream, and the force of the current of the Ohio River was so powerful, that when the hoppers met the unrelenting concrete, they were stoved-in and three went to the bottom where they remained awaiting our arrival.

Just about the time we rearranged the tow, the cook gave a short beep on the CLARE’s horns, and we broke for lunch. The cook, one of a pair of pals who hired on about a month before I came aboard, always had hearty, hot meals waiting for the cold crowd of half-frozen men who clomped down the back steps into his kitchen three times a day.

The captain was not a coffee drinker, so coffee breaks to warm the chilled body and soul of a crewman were out of the question. Our working hours were from before sunup to the last light of day. Even in the short daylight hours of winter, that amounted to many hours outside in the frigid weather. Soon I learned to eat fast, for when Captain John Beatty finished his meal, stood up, and walked out of the galley, he expected the rest of his men to follow.

Captain Don Sanders is a river man. He has been a riverboat captain with the Delta Queen Steamboat Company and with Rising Star Casino. He learned to fly an airplane before he learned to drive a “machine” and became a captain in the USAF. He is an adventurer, a historian, and a storyteller. Now, he is a columnist for the NKyTribune and will share his stories of growing up in Covington and his stories of the river. Hang on for the ride — the river never looked so good.


42' Yacht Fiona passing Fort Sumter, South Carolina  impressionist oil painting by Tom Lohre.

42' Yacht Fiona Crossing Bay of Biscay, 16" x 12", Oil pastel on board, Saturday, November 28, 2015

Oil pastel melted on paper of the ship Emma Lou by Tom  Lohre.

Emma Lou, 4" x 6", Oil pastel on paper

42' Westsail Fiona  crossing the Bay of Biscay , oil pastel on board by Tom Lohre.

42' Yacht Fiona Crossing Bay of Biscay, 16" x 12", Oil pastel on board, Saturday, November 28, 2015

Impressionist oil pastel on board of a  sailor standing on the beach by Tom Lohre.

Ocean Explorer, 16" x 12", Oil pastel on board, Thursday, November 26, 2015

Helen gazing out on Lake Zurich impressionist oil painting by Tom Lohre.

Zurich II, 6" x 4", Oil pastel on board, heating gessoed board with 1/8" crayons

Impressionist painting of  sailboat by Tom  Lohre.

Second North Atlantic Crossing I, 4" x 5.5", Oil pastel on paper, September 29, 2015

Helen gazing out on Lake Zurich with sailboat  immpressionist oil painting by Tom Lohre.

Zurich I, 6" x 4", Oil pastel on paper

Peqoud sailing in the background as  Ahab 's whaleboat goes after Moby Dick, oil painting  by  Tom Lohre.

Moby Dick II, 36" x 48", Oil on canvas, Sunday, January 11, 2015

Grapevine Lake, Dallas Texas, May 5, 2013, 8" x 10", Oil pastel on aluminum, nine color palette

Ohio River Launch Club  and Mount Adams painting  by Tom Lohre.

Great American Ball  Park painting by Tom Lohre.

Sunderland/Lenhart Boathouse Painting, 10' x 18", oil on board

The long river view, ten feet long, ten inches high crescent, the oil on board goes above a garage in Clifton, Cincinnati, Ohio. The garage holds Tom’s thirteen foot Banshee sailboat. Tom is teaching the owner, Willard, how to sail. At first they sailed on his boat then his family gave him a nineteen foot pocket cruiser. Slowly Willard is learning the ropes and this year he will take charge.

The painting takes in the Cincinnati Harbor from the Ohio River Launch Club, where the commissioner’s sail boat docks, to the Licking River.
The boats on the dock represent all seventy boats. The head boat has a room up top for the dock master. The barge ahead is canted to push drift away from the dock. Behind the dock is Mount Adams. To the left is the Coliseum with the public landing below it. Next to the left is the Cincinnati Port Authority building and below it is the showboat Majestic. The Suspension Bridge Ohio entrance starts at this point. The focal point is here and from her to the left the girders on the bridge will start separating from being together.

Just after getting started Tom had a fall at a ski slope and will need his knee replaced. He still painted with his knee exercised and iced before the surgery.

Tom’s technique is transparent. His medium is tablespoon of stand oil mixed with six drops of oil of cloves. It makes for a tacky surface. The oil colors are also mixed with oil of cloves, 3/8’ ball of pigment to two drops of oil of cloves. The oil of cloves keeps the paint from drying giving it about ten days of working ability. Tom is painting this in strips of ten inches with the previous section being tweaked as current section is done taking about two days for each section.

To the left of the Majestic Show Boat is Great American Ball Park in the foreground and PNC and Crew Towers in the back. Above is a northeast storm front of mammalian clouds indicating the possibility of tornadoes. The storm clouds take up a third of the canvas with blue sky on either side.

Thomas Chambers (1808–1869) is the artist Tom is emulating. The events are supernatural. Water and sky take on diverse and dynamic stylization.

Excerpts from:
Kathleen A. Foster is the Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Curator of American Art and Director, Center for American Art. She is curator of the exhibition Thomas Chambers (1808–1869): American Marine and Landscape Artist and author of the concurrent publication (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2008).

“Chambers is astonishingly undocumented. Probably because he was poor, he left few traces. Most of the surviving records of his existence are census entries and city directory listings, information already excavated by Little and Merritt, who constructed a skeletal chronology based on Chambers’ arrival in New Orleans in 1832. By 1834 he was listed as a landscape painter in New York (changing to 'marine painter' in 1838 and 1839), where he remained until about 1840. He emerged in Boston in 1843, where he lived until 1851, always listed as an 'artist.' A stint in Albany from 1851 to 1857 was followed by a return to New York City, where he appeared sporadically in directories before disappearing in 1866.”

“The last important clue to Chambers’ identity was the discovery of the newspaper advertisement he ran in the New Yorker for two years, beginning in 1835.7 Describing himself as a 'marine and landscape painter,' Chambers also offered 'Fancy Painting of every description done to order.' A fancy painter might be asked to paint decorative scenes on chair backs, coaches, or signs. We know that Chambers produced 'cabinet pictures' with imaginary (that is, fanciful or fantastic) subjects, such as Landscape with a Road Leading to Water. Such generic views allowed patrons to identify the subject themselves (as the Hudson? Ireland?). His self-description confirms that Chambers lived professionally exactly where his work fits visually, in the territory between Thomas Cole and the legions of decorative painters who shaped the bold 'fancy' interiors of the 1830s.”

Tom has not seen a Chambers. He is applying his regular transparent manner to the painting. Heavily gessoed boards created by scrapping gesso over the surface with a pallet knife till all signs of grain are gone then scrapping a razor blade across the surface till it is smooth. Pencil is used for the drawing and alcohol is used to remove the pencil where needed using a cue tip if needed. When painting commences the pencil is removed almost entirely with eraser and tissue soaked in alcohol. Then the medium is mixed with the pigment and applied to the white gesso making up the white part of the color. Solid white pigment is added only at the end in the areas that are white. The surface dries smooth and shiny.

In this work the rendering is as simple as possible. Laying a color field and using painted line to delineate. The color field is massaged with a stippling brush and finished lightly brushing with a dry brush to smooth the transparent color.

Sunderland/Lenhart Boathouse Painting, 10' x 18", oil on board by Tom Lohre

A crescent shaped board that goes above a garage where Tom keeps his thirteen foot sail/rowboat. The panorama takes in the whole Ohio River at Cincinnati Harbor. Starting on the right with the Ohio River Launch Club which is really three miles upriver, next is Mount Adams with Immaculate Catholic Church at the top, then the US Bank Coliseum with the Showboat Majestic floating at the public landing. Above is the Great American Ball Park and behind it is the PNC Bank building, Crew Tower and the new Port of Cincinnati Building. Following to the left is the first pier of the Suspension Bridge then a tow boat with a large wake behind it and the Emma Lou crossing the towboats stern. Above the scene is a cloud front moving in from the northeast with mammalian clouds creeping across the sky bringing stormy weather. The sailboat is leaned over in a thirty know wind. Farther to the left is the Kentucky pier and the Mike Fink Restaurant docked at the public landing. In the background is the Ascent and the Butler office hotel condo complex. Finally comes the two limestone homes Roebling built for himself and his engineer before he built the bridge, ending in one of the antebellum homes before the Licking River.

Boat People I, 5-1/2" x 3-1/2", watercolor on paper, 1992

At Sea IV, 16" x 12", oil on canvas, October 18, 2010

Helen, 36" x 40", oil on canvas, painted for the 2006 Tall Stacks Celebration in Cincinnati


Stoney Brook, Long Island, New York, 16" x 12", oil on board, September 3, 2007

Three Mile Harbor, 16" x 12", oil on board, September 4, 2007

Tangier Island, 16" x 12", Oil on canvas, 2006

Rising Sun, 16" x 12", Oil on board, 2006

Ohio River, 24" x 12", watercolor on paper, 2000; Painted for the masthead of The Appalachian Connection, a Cincinnati tabloidPainted as a panorama from Cincinnati, where Tom grew up, across the Appalachian Mountains to the North Carolina and his wife’s home state, you can see Pilot Mountain on the left and just to the right Chimney Rock on the Kentucky River.

Entrance to 3-Mile Harbor, 16" x 12, Oil on board, August 2007

The latest in a long line of paintings done while traveling. Tom's paint box has space for four wet 16" x 12" gessoed boards. Some are panted in one day others with figures take a week with Tom working on the figure during the evening and going on location to paint the landscape.

HSM Victory, 16" x 12", oil on canvas, 2001

Painted from life at the maritime museum. Tom put the ship at sea using the coastline he could see from his vantage. This was Nelson's flagship. He was working for a traditional ship at sea painting. The actual ship was on blocks in a drained pit part of the massive shipyard. The area is still a active Navy base. Tom purchased a brochure about the museum from the shop right behind him and used the waves from some of the images to put the ship at sea.

Tall Stacks in Cincinnati 4' x 3', Impasto oil on canvas

Painted with a palette knife from on the point where the Licking and Ohio Rivers meet, October 15 & 16, 2003.

Every four years Tall Stacks comes to Cincinnati. 15 sternwheelers line the banks and give cruises with music and reenactments. In this painting the ghost ship "The City of Cincinnati" lands on the point down river from the mouth of the Licking River. In the background you can see the Robeling Suspension Bridge completed in 1864. Behind the bridge you can see the new Paul Brown stadium. The steamboat later became the "President" and was docked in St. Louis until abandoned. It now is laid up down river from St. Louis.Tom has painted many river paintings and this idea came from a Cincinnati Individual Artists Grant Proposal. The idea entailed producing a very detailed version of the composition where the people who live in the Over-the-Rhine area of downtown around a popular bar and restaurant named Stenger's would be painted into the painting. In addition all the major players in Cincinnati government would be painted also with the residents picking which position they would play. In the end the final painting would be blown up to billboard size and placed on the building wall across the street from the bar. The pallet knife was used for its rapid coating of the surface of the canvas and its ability to scrape off poorly painted sections quickly and remixing a better color. There is a cleanness to knife painting that does not come from brushes. In the past I have used a brush like a knife by scraping off the paint from the brush, remixing it and then working it into the brush so as not to thin the paint with spirits.

Hong Kong Harbor, 10" x 8", oil on canvas, Fall 1996

Painted from life during a trip to the Orient After taking a slow boat to china and the bullet train back. Tom's wife assisted him in setting up his easel outside the art museum and painting this view of Hong Kong proper. Normally all the boats in the painting can be seen traveling to and fro accept the junk. Mostly seen are the ferryboats and floating cranes that unload all the cargo in the harbor. Above is a building in the form of a Shinto Shrine at Victoria Peak.

Covington Landing

Covington Landing, 36" x 24", Oil on canvas, 1988

Maysville, Kentucky, unfinished, September 1st, 1999, Oil on canvas, 16" x 12", available

Painted from life during the annual Maysville festival. Tom learned of a man who would regularly walk up the suspension cables of the bridge and Tom paint4ed him on top of the piers.

Mt. Adams with Rowboat, Oil on canvas, March 22nd, 1999, 16" x 12"

Oil painting of the Queensboro Bridge and the South Street Seaport sailboat excusion boat "Pioneer"  by Tom Lohre.

Pioneer and the Queensboro Bridge, New York City, 20" x 16", Oil on canvas

Commissioned as a memory of her riding across the bridge everyday to work at the UN. Tom was given the idea of what she wanted and he drew several sketches as suggestions. Later he would paint from life in a small park nears the waters edge. The people were from snaps he shot while sketching.

Oil painting of the Queensboro Bridge and the South Street Seaport sailboat excusion boat "Pioneer"  by Tom Lohre.

Pioneer and the Queensboro Bridge, New York City II, 20" x 16", Oil on canvas

Done after volunteering for 139 hours on the Pioneer. An evening cruise ship out of South Street Seaport. Used to be a one masted sand barge working out of New Jersey. She is shown here sailing down the East River past the Queensboro Bridge.
The patron had me paint out the Black family and paint her black friend sitting next to her and her friend waving. She worked at the UN.

Delta Queen Landing at Cincinnati, Oil on canvas, 40" x 30", June 11th, 1997       

This painting is the companion of Tom's earlier, same size work of South Street Seaport. His sister and her husband commissioned the two of them six years ago. Tom delivered the first painting in the Spring of 1992 and now is glad to deliver the second. It took so long because of the massive detail in the work and the resolve not to deliver an inferior work. It was Tom's intention to rival all other work in these two paintings. The first work was of the restored seaport in New York City near Wall Street. It had about thirty people on board the schooner "Pioneer" and about the same number on the wharf. In this "Delta Queen" painting there were substantially more people.         

The painting shows the steamboat Delta Queen just finished docking at Cincinnati Landing. To the left of the Queen is the permanently moored showboat Majestic. In the distance you can see the traditional river front of Covington, Kentucky with its famous suspension bridge built by John Robeling and finished in 1860. Just behind the bridge is the modern office tower and contemporary Covington Landing.        

Tom used hundreds of photographs and on site painting for the painting. He took many photographs of all three of the "Tall Stacks" celebrations in Cincinnati, Ohio. During the year, while the Delta Queen was docked where it is now in the painting, Tom would be there studying and recording all the details that would be used for the painting. Tom obtained floor plans of the Delta Queen so he could reproduce the boat to the point you could recognize any part of the boat.         

On shore, Tom used people he knew to populate it. He hired a horse drawn carriage and had his wife, his brother Steve and his wife Becky pose, riding in the carriage. The carriage is owned by his high school classmate, John Meyer. You can read the telephone number on the back of the carriage. For the mounted horseman Tom used his friend, Chester Salisbury and his horse Molly. On shore from left to right are a little girl Tom saw during one of the Queen's many arrivals in Cincinnati. His sister Susan, the owner of the painting and her son, Mikey Gabel. Far behind his sister are two children along the water's edge. Then there is Doctor Larry Johnson, Edna Rosenberg, Tom Umfrid and Chuck Jordan. Below Chuck Jordan is a baby carriage and a small girl. Next in the far background is R_, Tom's mentor and teacher of many years. Once again there is Mikey Gabel, Tom's nephew and his Father, Dr. Michael Gabel. To the right of Dr. Gabel is a backpacking girl Tom saw at one of the "Tall Stack" celebrations and next to her is legendary river man, Captain John Beatty. Tom's first job was working for Captain Beatty as a deckhand on his floating restaurant the Mike Fink's. Later Tom would work with Captain Beatty during his salvage operations. Captain Beatty had a tremendous impact on Tom and it is this impact that has driven him to do this and other Ohio River paintings. It is Tom's mission to preserve Captain Beatty's memory in a series of paintings of him and his doings on the river.         

After Captain Beatty are two sophisticated women who represent the many clients of Tom's. In the foreground are two of Tom's cousins and above them is another girl Tom found in one of his many photographs of the view. Tom, himself comes next as a large foreground figure and next to him is his identical twin brother, Chuck. In between them are several of the employees of the Delta Queen going over the details of the arrival. To finish off the view are a few of the period dressed characters hired by the Queen for the passengers and finally some of the crew members tending to the mooring.         

On the gangplank are the waiters of the Queen putting on a show for the tourists in the manner of a Mardi Gras Celebration. On the "Showboat Majestic's" upper deck are two actresses and going to the right of them are the passengers of the steamboat. On top of it all is the pilot surveying the docking.

Delta Queen Valley, unfinished, November 11th, 1997, Oil on canvas, 20" x 16"

Started from life while taking a ride on the Delta Queen from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati. The weather was not at all good so Tom was only allowed to paint for a few hours.


Showboat below Mt. Adams, Oil on canvas, 10" x 8", May 18th, 1997   

Painted during the annual "Duveneck Art Show" sponsored by the Northern Kentucky Heritage League, at George Rogers Clark Park at the foot of Greenup in Covington, Kentucky. The painting is done in an impressionistic manner with the Ohio River in the foreground and the showboat "Majestic docked where it usually is, at the foot of Broadway on Cincinnati Landing. In the background is Cincinnati's most tranquil mount. Mount Adams with the center piece the church of the Immaculata. The time of day is the early morning and the city is mostly in dark shadow with the sky light lemon yellow with it turning blue towards the corners of the painting. It is a small painting framed with a ornate gold leaf replica of a 1800's French frame.  

The River, 16" x 20", Oil on canvas, Spring 1996, available prints

Tom started this work as his Tall Stacks Painting. Every three or four years Cincinnati, Ohio hosts 15 riverboats for four days of boating and music. Tom decided to paint his daughter with the main symbols of Tall Stacks, a paddle wheel and the pier of the Suspension Bridge. Tom grew up on the Ohio River and work on this paddle wheel while in high school. He later worked for Captain Beatty on various salvage jobs on the Ohio. His family had a house boat docked behind the restaurant and he spent many a night studying and fishing off the bow. The singing of the cars driving across the Suspension Bridge played ever in the backgroound. Tom changed the water's edge to the pavers used across the river at the Cincinnati public landing. The background is just as it is in 2004. You can just barely see Paul Brown Stadium just to the left of the stern wheel. The Mike Fink was moved to dry dock in March of 2008 and if all goes well will return soon

Painted for Cincinnati’s Tall Stacks Celebration 2007, every four years the Cincinnati River front transformed into a nostalgic by gone era with old time riverboats lining the riverbank. Long weekend festivities, river cruises, fireworks and education about river lore take place along both sides of the Ohio River. In the past, Tom painted nostalgic views of the river on location amongst the crowds but this year he set up his easel in front of the Mike Fink’s Restaurant, the place of his first job. He combined the best of both sides of the river to show a modern view but still indicative of little change of the view since 1864 when the Robeling Suspension bridge opened at the end of the Civil War.

The twenty by sixteen inch canvas was painted from the banks of the Ohio just South of the Suspension Bridges' Kentucky pier. Tom worked during the day and night from the shore, fleshing in the beginnings of the canvas. Later in the studio he realized the work. The undertaking is exceptional for its high quality of detail done in traditional style.  

There is quite a bit of "Tall Stack" activity in the painting. In mid stream the Delta Queen is well underway, going up river. The stadium is wholly lit with a baseball game in progress. All along the Kentucky side of the river from just below the bridge pier to the Licking river are stern wheelers tied up to shore. In the foreground is the "Donald B", a authentic stern wheeler tow boat. Closer to the viewer just off the shore is a river man in a john boat. On shore is the artist at a camp fire.  
        Tom spend several nights on the river at night sketching in the scene. Later he reaffirmed his composition decision and worked over top of the preliminary oil sketch. This was a work where the beginning oil sketch was in many ways superior to the final detailed work. But Tom decided to paint over the initial oil sketch because he had cow towed to artisans without money and now he was producing a simple work for a deliberate client.  
        A long time client Ms. Linda Brown commissioned this work. It was her husband that actually commissioned it for her Valentines day gift. Ms. Brown already had one painting of the suspension bridge, during the day, done by Tom Lohre and Ms. Brown wanted a night scene with the lights on the bridge! Well Tom, took the opportunity of Cincinnati's 1995 "Tall Stacks" Celebration to complete her wish. The first bridge painting took place on the banks of the Ohio during the day. Painting with the homeless people living right under the pier of the bridge. Now this painting had to be done in the studio. Tom did not have a painting of the Cinergy stadium and decided to included it into the already crowded composition.  
        Back in the studio, Tom finely rendered the many aspects of the scene. He starts with the background and works forward. As in all of Tom's work, he paints like he is building each object with paint. The stadium supports have all the strength to hold up the stands and the lights illuminate the interior area. The bridge piers are strongly laid up to hold the cables. The iron girders are carefully fitted together to hold the roadway. The stern wheeler in the foreground is assembled in the same way it was in the shipyard. All the constituents are formed as though the maker himself was involved.  

        Tom grew up in Northern Kentucky. His first job was working on the "Mike Fink," a floating restaurant moored just down river from the Licking River. His job was to wash the decks and maintain the outside of the marina. Spending time on the river as a young man had a indelible impression on Tom. Legendary river man, Capt. Beatty owned the restaurants Mike Fink and Captain Hook plus a large menagerie of various cranes and work boats for river salvage jobs. The stern wheeler in the foreground of the painting represents the tow boats on the river that Tom worked on. He fondly remembers his boss, a large black man named Henry, whose parents were slaves. Henry worked most of his life for Capt. Beatty. Another one of Tom's bosses was Duey of Newport. His sister owned the riverboat restaurant right up the river from the "Fink." He would scoot about in a oak yawl taking care of the various jobs and lines needing attention. While Beatty's Navy, the collection of salvage equipment, was laid up he would take care of maintaining them. Tom would sometimes travel with him in the yawl like the one in the foreground of the painting. 

South Street Seaport, New York City, 40" x 30", 1996

Pioneer on the St Charles River, Charleston Harbor, Oil on canvas, June 1st, 1995, 20" x 16", Available in framed photo prints

Tokyo Canal, 16" x 12", Oil on canvas, 1994

Delta Queen Impression, Oil on canvas, 40" x 30", October 10th, 1993

Mike Fink Getting Robbed, 10" x 8", 1992

Painted from Rogers Clark Park above the Ohio River during the Duveneck Art Festival, sponsored by the Baker Hunt Foundation. Tom was a participant and painted this work as an illustration of the robbery that happened showing the robbers carrying off the safe in the foreground.

Started from life during a visit to where Tom was meeting his to be wife. She had a talk in Harrisburg. And Tom worked and studied Harrisburg while there. He rearranged the buildings that looked interesting in the canvas. 

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 24” x 20”, Oil on canvas, Started June 15th, 1991, Oil on canvas, Finished in 2006
Started in 1991 while staying at the Harrisburg Hilton, it took 15 years to finish the lower right section of homes. In the distance you can see City Island where the Harrisburg Senators play. The green roof is the Conservation Fund Pennsylvania building, 105 N Front St # 400. The beige church to the right with the circular window is the St Stephen's Episcopal. In front is their school, 215 North Front Street. Between in the black building is Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) - Loan Agency, 211 N Front St. In the distance is the Harvey Taylor Bridge. Tom took images of the scene when he realized he was not going to finish the work. At the time he was courting his wife. She lived in Cincinnati and had a speaking engagement in Harrisburg. Tom was living in Greenwich Village, NYC and took a road trip to Harrisburg to spend two days with her. Though fond of the painting as a remembrance of times when you could paint in a hotel room and not have your girlfriend bothered by the smell. Tom learned the painting has more meaning to the citizens and buildings it represents.
For thirty years he has painted formal portraits that sometimes take upwards of a year to paint. The life size portraits are masterpieces of modern romanticism. The surface of the canvas is amazing to look at for Tom uses the white of the canvas and transparent tints to create lifelike form. Tom is obsessed with the surface of the painting. He emulates the great master figurative painter William Adolph Bouguereau. Tom started his “en plein air” work, artwork painted outdoors, after mastering his portrait manner. He honed his skills by painting outdoors every day. He would paint scenes devoid of people even though they would be in very popular locations.
Brief History of the Artist/Scientist
Tom Lohre learned by living with a master portrait painter Ralph Wolf Cowan. Searching for new subjects, he painted the eruption of Mount Saint Helens while it erupted from life, twenty miles to the south on Tum Tum Mountain. He also painted the first space shuttle from life, 200 'feet from it, under armed guard, the day before to took off. Besides painting portraits, Tom paints scenes from life.
Other rights and obligations between the artist and owner of the physical part of the artwork outlined in the Receipt of the Artworks Physical Part listed at http://tomlohre.com/contract1.htm. For any restoration and repair work, please call the artist, Thomas George Lohre, Jr., 513-236-1704, tom@tomlohre.com
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All information believed correct but cannot be guaranteed.

Oil painting 30

Covington Landing, Oil on canvas, 30"X 24", 1989, Available in framed photo prints, This was the first canvas Tom worked on where he wanted to duplicate the great landscapes of the past. He set up on location and worked a few hours everyday for a month to produce this result. He learned that the composition should not be dependant on where you can set up. In the future he used the composition plastically, painting a form that worked in the canvas area independent on whether you could actually see the scene or not. 
The view itself is a modern cache of riverboats not unlike those of old. Tom worked on the river for his first job and has every since had a love affair with the lore of the river.

Licking River, 16" x 12", oil on canvas, 1987

Colors: Light violet blue, light yellow green, deep olive green, purple accent

Painted from life, this painting represents the best of Tom's impressionist manner which reached a peak in 1987. In a predictable way Toms feverish attack on learning landscape painting by producing a canvas everyday, working outdoors on location for two years paid off with 1987 being the peak of his impressionist manner. Why it peaked and why he could not get back to this manner has puzzled Tom ever since. His colors were driven by each other more than attention paid to what the actual color was. Its Toms belief that nature is a good point to take off from but common sense is more important in creating meaningful and exciting work. Painted from life about twenty miles up the Licking River from the Ohio River. After taking a swim and having some lunch, Tom set up his easel and went to work on what he considers his finest example of his impressionist manner.

Man in Rowboat, 16" x 12", Oil on canvas, 1985, Painted from life using a rowboat that was in a front yard of a Nantucket home. Tom hired a man walking down the street to pose. While he painted a time lapse super 8 movie was made. During his second Nantucket season Tom Lohre would take time lapse Super 8. He was taking famous paintings and repainting them using the objects of the island. In this case it was a homage to Homer. An old row boat in a yard became a rowboat at sea. He solicited a young man walking down the road to pose for him. Whereabouts of painting is unknown but someone found the image of the painting taken from a old photograph of the painting and posted on Tom's web site tomlohre.com used it as his cell phone home screen with the captions, " I am never giving up. I am never giving in." His girlfriend contacted Tom through Facebook and purchased a signed print of the image for his Christmas present.

Video of Time Lapse


Licking River, Oil on canvas, April 4th, 1987, 16" x 12"

Mt. Adams, Cincinnati, Silkscreen on paper, January 1st, 1988, 36" x 24", Edition of 50, Prints available

Scallop Hunter, 10" x 8", Oil on canvas, 1985; Painted for Tom’s father on his birthday, of the scallop fishermen of Nantucket Sound. One of two paintings the other whereabouts unknown.


Mike Fink's Restaurant; Covington, Kentucky, Oil on canvas, May 15th, 1978, 28" x 18"

Clare E. Beatty, Oil on canvas, May 1st, 1976, 36" x 24", available
This painting launched the art career of the artist. Painted during college, Tom’s father bought it immediately. Later when his father passed away the work came back to his son. Tom worked on the boat during high school and college. Tom had just met his mentor Ralph Wolfe Cowan and this painting has all the trappings of a Cowan work, especially the Moon in the wrong place and the dramatic clouds and the strange depiction of the suspension bridge without the bridge pier and the simple way the Crew Tower is painted. In many ways it looks like a Thomas Chambers.



Dad on his Morgan 36' 5-3/4" x 4", watercolor on paper, 1973 Painted from life in Sandusky, Ohio while Tom was in college

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