The following text is part of an article published in The Longview News-Journal on Jan. 1, 1967, and gives some details on two excursion boats that some All Things Sabine readers had asked about: The Toledo Queen and the Toledo Princess. Both were operated by Cliff Ammons, who became known as “the father of Toledo Bend” as it was he who introduced legislation as a State Representative to create Toledo Bend, and he was one of the main individuals behind the creation of the lake. Most knew Ammons operated the boats, but this article provides some interesting on who was behind making the boats, which was a Florien entrepreneur and enterprising, talented jack of many trades, Johnnie Jordan of Florien. As a young man, Jordan’s son, Rodney, helped his father build houseboats and today runs the business as Jordan Marine, still building some of the finest houseboats you can find anywhere around.
C. R. (Cliff) Ammon s of Many is a man of numerous endeavors. Not only is he president of the Many Chamber of Commerce this year and vocational agriculture teacher in Many High School, but also he deals in real estate, devotes many hours to promoting development on Lake Toledo, and takes time out to build camp cabins in his Sportsman’s Paradise Subdivision.
Rut the one enterprise of Ammons’ which has perhaps fascinated and captivated the largest numbers of people all up and down the Louisiana and Texas sides of the Sabine River and Toledo Bend Reservoir is his proof that the river is navigable.
Ammons owns two riverboats, the Toledo Queen and a “sister” ship, the Toledo Princess. t h e latter a paddle wheeler. Both now are plying the Sabine River waters and making 10 – mile excursion trips, showing guests aboard some sights in the river, not seen since steamboats plied the winding waterway just after the turn of the century.
In mid-November, many river authority and Toledo Bend project officials, plus civic leaders from a wide area in Texas and Louisiana, joined the initial cruise of the Queen down the Sabine. And around Thanksgiving, the Toledo Princess joined the “river fleet.”
A steary stream of passengers can be found at Pendleton Bridge, on weekends and holidays when the weather is good, to take the cruises. Up to 60 people can board each of the two vessels.
Oddly enough, both the Toledo Queen and the Toledo Princess were built in the area in which they were launched. They are the construction of Johnnie L. Jordan, owner and manager of Jordan Iron Works Inc., near Florien, La., a few miles from Many.
Jordan got into the boat-building business when he made a steel pontoon cylinder for a custom trip up in Shreveport several years back. In fact, his firm was originally established as an ornamental iron-works outfit solely, but more arid more his business is boat-building, and he moved headquarters from Shreveport to Florien to be nearer Toledo Bend.
It was Ammons’ idea to make the Toledo Princess a paddle wheeler on the style of the old time water-wheel riverboat. He had tractor wheels and chassis hauled out to Jordan and the two men put their heads together and came up with the answer to “how” it could be done.
Jordan mounted the tractor on specially-constructed framework at the back of the riverboat, inserted steel spokes to support the wooden paddles made of cypress, and eventually the Princess was launched.
Ammons’ friend Jordan also builds boats other than excursion vessels. In fact, he has built them with full cabins, controls, sleeping quarters (with a backrest pillow for bed included) and in prices ranging from $7,500 to $12,000. They tan be found plying waters around Jackson, Miss., Dearborn Lake near Farmerville, La., the Arkansas River, and Lake 0′ The Pines in Texas.