This museum features exhibits recounting the history of the Ohio River and the many different types of boats that have been transporting people and cargo for hundreds of years. The Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen have provided many of the steamboat artifacts that are featured in the museum. Their pride in sharing the history of our inland waterways and with the public and their continued support of the museum is greatly appreciated.
Three buildings of exhibits focus on the history of the Ohio River and its importance relating to the expansion of our country. The Golden Age of the steamboat recalls the romance and luxury as many people traveled the river in style. The river’s natural history explores the stories of the beauty and the ugliness that the inland rivers sometimes tell.
The pride of the museum is the W.P. Snyder, Jr., the last of the steam-powered, stern wheeled towboats in the United States and a National Historic Landmark. Docked on the Muskingum River and open for guided tours since 1955, the Snyder takes visitors back to a different era of work boats on the river. A “pool type” towboat, the Snyder boasts a steel hull AND hog chains. Steering levers were used on the Snyder but the pilot wheel is still present.
Someone once said, “This egg crate was made with properly fitted joints, nailed together, and it has taken everything man and the river could dish out” for almost 80 years. This “egg crate” is approaching its 100th birthday in 2018 and we are looking forward to helping it celebrate!
Outside is the Tell City Pilot House, a flat boat reproduction, a restored shanty boat, and a series of poles showing the heights of some on the worst floods in recorded history to hit this area. If you think you know the rivers, come visit us at the Ohio River Museum. There is probably something there that will surprise you.