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Directory of Mark Twain's maxims, quotations, and various opinions:

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STEAMBOAT RACING

I think that much the most enjoyable of all races is a steamboat race; but, next to that, I prefer the gay and joyous mule-rush. Two red--hot steamboats raging along, neck-and-neck, straining every nerve--that is to say, every rivet in the boilers--quaking and shaking and groaning from stem to stern, spouting white steam from the pipes, pouring black smoke from the chimneys, raining down sparks, parting the river into long breaks of hissing foam--this is sport that makes a body's very liver curl with enjoyment. A horse-race is pretty tame and colorless in comparison. Still, a horse-race might be well enough, in its way, perhaps, if it were not for the tiresome false starts. But then, nobody is ever killed. At least, nobody was ever killed when I was at a horse-race. They have been crippled, it is true; but this is little to the purpose.
- Life on the Mississippi

 

Cornwell painting

Painting of race between Natchez and Robert E. Lee by Dean Cornwell
Photo courtesy of Dave Thomson

The time made by the Rob't E. Lee from New Orleans to St. Louis in 1870, in her famous race with the Natchez, is the best on record . . .the race created a national interest . . . The Lee left New Orleans, Thursday, June 30th, 1870, at 4:55 P.M.. . . and landed at St. Louis at 11.25 A.M., on July 4th, 1870 --6 hours and 36 minutes ahead of the Natchez. The Rob't E. Lee was commanded by Captain John W. Cannon, and the Natchez was in charge of that veteran Southern boatman, Captain Thomas P. Leathers.
- Life on the Mississippi


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