Sternwheelers on the Great Kanawha by Sutpin & Andre
- 200 pages
- Hundreds of Illus.
We handled this book when I was first published in 1991, but it is now back in print.
The Kanawha River runs entirely within West Virginia, originating at the confluence of the Gauley and New Rivers at Gauley, and empting into the Ohio at Point Pleasant. – It early became an important water route first for flatboats and similar craft, then after the introduction of steamboats, became an important transportation route from the interior of Wet Virginia.
The river traffic ran parallel with the C&O main line most of the distance (diverging at St. Albans as C&O veered toward Huntington and the river ran to the north). Though in some ways a competing transportation system, the riverboats operating on the Kanawha were really a supplement to railroad transport.
The book’s coverage starts in the earliest years and tells of the pre-steam boat period, then the coming of the earliest steam-powered craft, followed by the large traditional-looking river steamers so familiar to us. It concludes with the steam vessels that took over as barge tow-boats that have persisted to the present day (now diesel powered), taking salt and coal down the river.
One section deals with early salt production in the area. This product was carried not only by the riverboats but by C&O, especially in the 1870s-1900 era.
In addition to great old photos, there are scores of reproduced newspaper ads and stories and many steamboat era waybills, ads, and other documents that make the book all the more interesting.
I am a die-hard railfan, but this is a steamboat book that I really have enjoyed and that has a close association with our railway. Recommended reading. – Tom Dixon