November 26, 2008

Steamboat Gallery # 1

No steamboats ran regularly on Ten Mile but they ran right past and besides that ........ I love a steamboat. For about 80 years the easiest and cheapest way to get from Ten Mile Country to the big city ( Brownsville or Pittsburgh ) was to take the packet boat. There were actually only two choices, a mud road or the packet boat until the railroad was extended from Brownsville through Fredericktown to Rices Landing ( completed Jan.9,1908 ) and the branch to Besco, in late 1907. Many towboats and packets were seen every day from the banks and people knew them even at night by the distinctive sound of the whistle.
Here are just a few vessels that were very well known to people on our stretch of the Mon.

The Clyde Coal Co.'s very pretty towboat. Imaginatively, she was named CLYDE
. This company had the mine of the same name in Fredericktown. Built at Rochester in 1903, she ran the Mon until 1930.

The Str. JAMES E. LOSE was one of many Carnegie Illinois Steel Co. boats. Later, these boats that ran locally (in the pools between the dams) were called pool boats , were operated under the U S Steel name and the " line haul boats ", which ran down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers became Ohio Barge Line ( 1941- 1985). When I started at OBL in the mid 1970's many of the Mates, Pilots and Captains that I worked with had been deckhands and Mates on these Carnegie Steel boats.
In 1945 there were as many steam sternwheel boats operating as there were diesel boats. In 1949 there were still 42 sternwheelers ( J&L alone had eleven of them ) running on the Allegheny Mon and upper Ohio. By 1953 there were 10, five owned by US Steel, Consol Coal and Crucible each still operated two and Ohio Barge Line still had one sternwheeler working. OBL 's last steamboat, a steam propeller vessel, ran until 1963. History is not that far behind us, just look over your shoulder and there it is.

This is the Str. La BELLE of the Wheeling Steel Corp. downbound at Fredericktown.

The CHARLES R. COX of US Steel downbound at Rices Landing. Her roof bell is now on display at the Monongahela River Buffs Museum

The Str. ADAM JACOBS at Brownsville in 1895. Owned by the Pittsburgh Brownsville & Geneva Packet Co. she regularly ran between these places. She was built at Brownsville in 1885.
This was one huge boat, over 200 feet long. Click on the pic and it will enlarge to actual size.......... just kidding.

The W.P.Snyder Jr. at Marietta

Fortunately for us there is a wonderfully preserved example of a Monongahela River towboat at Marietta Ohio. The Str. W.P. SNYDER JR. is docked there at the Ohio River Museum. The museum has a large and fine collection of river artifacts but their jewel is this vessel. She is exactly as she was in the old days and you can wander over her at your own pace and see how they lived and worked on the river on this Carnegie Illinois and later Crucible Steel owned boat. I'm glad they saved one of these unique vessels, she is the only surviving coal-fired, steam-powered sternwheeler towboat in the US not to mention the only pool boat. The smoke stacks on all the pool boats were made to be tilted back to clear low bridges and the pilot house was built on the forward end of the cabin rather than on top of the roof. They evolved to fit the needs of the river and locks in terms of power, size and draft. In the late 70's my wife and I first visited this boat at the museum. When I returned to work I was on the boat with Captain Leon Lyle of Pittsburgh, originally from Paducah, Ky. I had worked with him when he was a mate and he was of the old school and was as good a boatman as could be found on the river and I learned much from him. I was talking about how fascinating it was to visit the SNYDER. he said to me " I know that boat very well, I spent 10 years as Mate on her, just like you are Mate on here for me now. " For a complete description refer to her National Historic Landmark Nomination here.

Starboard Engine

The galley, not a lot of space to prepare food for 12 - 15 people.

The Str. W. P. SNYDER JR. was originally built as the Carnegie Steel Co. towboat W. H. CLINGERMAN in 1918 by Rees of Pittburgh, Pa. In 1938 she was renamed J. L. PERRY and in 1945 she was sold to Crucible Fuel Co. and again renamed as the W. P. SNYDER Jr. She towed coal on the Monongahela river for 35 years until she was laid up on September 23, 1953 at Crucible, Pa. In the summer of 1955 she was given to the Ohio Historical Society for exhibit at the Ohio River Museum of the Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen in Marietta, Ohio.

No comments: