New Orleans’ film industry was a ‘secret club.’ ‘Queen Sugar’ blew its doors wide open and the city became the epicenter of American cinema.
The ‘Queen of Sugar’ was born on a steamboat on the Mississippi River, as the ‘Pine Bark’ raced upriver from New Orleans to New Madrid, Missouri, to deliver sugar to New Orleans. As the first steamboat to do so, she made history.
Queen Sugar, Queen of Sugar, was named in commemoration of the ship’s official title.
The Pine Bark was the first steamboat to bring sugar to the New Orleans area.
In the late 18th century, there was no real distinction between a riverboat and a passenger or freighter. The terms were interchangeable. A riverboat was the first to pass a river, while a freighter was also referred to a boat on Lake Pontchartrain. But as the riverboat industry grew, it was natural to name these ships and carry with them the title of Queen or Queen of Sugar. Queen was the name of the ship. Sugar was the cargo. The ship’s official title was Queen of Sugar.
In order to find the appropriate size cargo, a ship’s owners would go to the port, and the master or captain would check the cargo to make sure it met certain parameters. As this was a business transaction, the master would mark the cargo for the ship’s owner, and the ship’s crew would receive their pay.
It all started with a letter written by Captain James Blaire to his wife in the late 18th century. Blaire was the master of the Queen Sugar, which was a 2,500-ton boat on the Mississippi River heading north from New Orleans. He was heading to New Orleans to load up with sugar. His wife was in the process of sending this sugar down the Mississippi River to market in New Orleans.
Blaire’s letter to his wife is interesting and provides