Press "Enter" to skip to content

Towboat cook tells how she kept the crew well fed

Towboats of the Mississippi River, sometimes referred to as the pusher boats, have been delivering cargo up and down this historic waterway since the 1850s when steamboats began pushing one or more barges to increase cargo capacity. (The name “tow” comes from the canal age when a draft animal walking along the bank of the canal pulled a barge.)

Laura Sibley of French Settlement, La., while visiting her son and daughter-in-law in Gloucester, recalled spending 14 years as chief cook aboard many of these magnificent and powerful vessels. “And when I had to retire due to health reasons, I cried. It was like being at home but also like a vacation to me. Every morning when I awoke there was a different view.”

Laura’s introduction to the towboat life began when she met a man at a bar who turned out to be a towboat captain. “I was working as cafeteria manager at a high school, a career I pursued for 21 years. When he learned of this his comment was, &lsquo...

To view the rest of this article, you must log in. If you do not have an account with us, please subscribe here.