Look Back: Boat Building Booms in Ohio’s Central Valley | News, Sports, Jobs


The Goldenrod, built by the Pope Dock Co. in Parkersburg in 1909, was considered the finest and largest show boat ever built. The boat was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1967. The floating theater, with a very rich history, burned down to its hull in 2017. (Photo provided)

Construction of steamships

Yesterday in our River Intelligence we noticed that the Lotawanna, a new steamer for the Wichita River Packet Line, was coming down the river from Marietta. This ship was built and furnished in this ancient city and does great credit to her builders, so far as appearances are concerned. This is a beautiful mid-sized Steamer model. Now, can any of our readers give a satisfactory reason why the building of steamboats, barges, and other craft does not go on at Parkersburg as well as at Marietta? The deep waters of the Little Kanawha River, a few miles above its mouth, provide an excellent harbor and facilities to conveniently launch boats of all sizes now in use on our western waters. The high banks and flat or gently sloping land along the river are in all respects desirable locations for workshops of all kinds. The joint advantages of the railroad and the river which rub shoulders should be sufficient to encourage industrial activities to set up there. Why didn’t they?

Excerpt from the Parkersburg Daily Times

November 2, 1867


Construction of steamships

There have been forty-seven steamboats built at the shipyard in this town, some of good size and some small; but last, and one of the neatest, is Captain Parrish’s new boat, which has just been completed – the JN Camden. He left Monday for Marietta to install his boilers by Straker & Co. and for Pittsburgh, for machines from the best builders there. We had a lot of fun reviewing this boat. She is of the best wood and the best workmanship, 100 feet of keel, 125 from outside to outside, 18 feet wide, 3 feet of bilge, 10 feet of clearance in the deck. On his superior works we found very elegant arrangements and enhancements. The model is good, and with good machines he will be fast – he will have it. The cabin was built by Gould & Co, and is a fine working specimen – neat in every detail. The wheelhouse and wheel are movable up and down to avoid bridges. The whole cabin is thoroughly ventilated, the ladies’ cabin is very well laid out. This boat is designed for general trade, but built with a view to navigating the Little Kanawha when locked and dammed. The captain is a little ahead of the company; but he thinks they will give him a chance to work for free by the fall. We regard the name of such a beautiful boat like this, the JN Camden, as a fine tribute to a fine gentleman. We should be building fifty steamers a year at our yard, but we shall rarely meet with better boats of this size.

The Parkersburg Gazette

February 3, 1870


WN Chancellor

The good liner WN Chancellor, which has been resting in the Little Kanawha for many weeks under repair, will resume her trade next Tuesday. It has been put in excellent condition and everything is now like new. The Chancellor has always been one of Ohio’s most popular riverboats.

Parkersburg Daily State Newspaper

February 28, 1889


Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. If you have any comments or questions about Look Back articles, please contact him at: [email protected], or by mail at WCHPS, PO Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.

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