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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Marietta in Washington County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Life on the River / Boats on the Ohio

 
 
Life on the River Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., May 30, 2009
1. Life on the River Marker
Inscription. (Left Side Panel):
Life on the River
“Wheel Coal - Sleep - Eat - Wheel Coal: If there was such a thing as a typical day in the life of a deckhand...that would be it.” - W.V. Torner, recalling life as a deckhand.

Towboats are a twenty-four-hour operation. On boats like the W.P. Snyder Jr. crews worked a six-hour shift, called a watch. The forward watch worked from 6 a.m. to noon and then was replaced by the after watch. The forward watch reported back at 6 p.m. The after watch returned to work at midnight.

The Snyder carried a crew of about twenty. Two deckhands worked each shift, doing everything from hauling coal and ashes to tying off barges. The captain, who was responsible for all activity to the boat, reported directly to the owners.

Don't Work Don't Eat
Cooks on towboats played an integral part in the vessel's operation. Crews expected to be fed prior to their watch. If a meal was late, it meant that the watch on duty was late in being relieved.

The cook also created the menu and was responsible for the food budget. Uneaten food was money lost. It was dumped overboard through a pipe known as the “dollar hole.”

(Right Side Panel):
Boats on the Ohio
By the time Rufus Putnam arrived in Marietta in 1788, the Ohio River
Boats on the Ohio Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
2. Boats on the Ohio Marker
had a long history as an Indian trading route. River commerce increased as the American population pushed into the Northwest Territory. Travel on the Ohio was mostly one way downriver.

River traffic changed when the first western steamboat, the New Orleans, made its maiden voyage in 1811. Boats moved much faster downriver. More importantly, travel upriver was now more practical.

Packet boats ran routes up and down the Muskingum and the Ohio as well as the Mississippi and other navigable rivers. In addition to passengers, these vessels carried livestock, freight, and mail. Towboats were introduced in the decade before the Civil War to aid in the movement of cargo along the rivers.

Towboats
In the early 1800s, coal was mined near Pittsburgh and loaded onto broad, crudely built barges. These barges were then sent down the Ohio River when spring floods caused water levels to rise.

The demand for regular coal delivery led to the development of the towboat. In the late 1840s, experiments were made using stout steamboats to move barges. By 1855, at least ten towboats were in operation on the river. Towboats are still used today to push barges along the inland rivers.
 
Erected by The Ohio Historical Society.
 
Location. 39° 25.223′ N, 81° 
Crew Photo on Life on the River Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., May 30, 2009
3. Crew Photo on Life on the River Marker
Crew members on the Snyder worked a ten-day shift, followed by a five-day break.
27.793′ W. Marker is in Marietta, Ohio, in Washington County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of St. Clair Street and Front Street, on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is on the grounds of the Ohio River Museum, off St. Clair Street and Front Street. Marker is in this post office area: Marietta OH 45750, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The W. P. Snyder Jr. (here, next to this marker); Tour of the Snyder (here, next to this marker); The Towboat W. P. Snyder Jr. (a few steps from this marker); Flood Heights (a few steps from this marker); Mighty River / Learning the River (a few steps from this marker); River Town / Sails and Steam / The Highway West (a few steps from this marker); Oweva Engine (a few steps from this marker); Oldest Pilothouse (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Marietta.
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceSettlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels
 
Safety Rules List on Life on the River Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., May 30, 2009
4. Safety Rules List on Life on the River Marker
Kitchen Photo on Life on the River Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., May 30, 2009
5. Kitchen Photo on Life on the River Marker
Every meal on the W.P. Snyder Jr. was prepared in the kitchen and served in the dining room. A crew on the same watch ate together. In the warmer months, flies were a common nuisance.
Steamboat Betsy Ann on Boats on the Ohio Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
6. Steamboat Betsy Ann on Boats on the Ohio Marker
Steamboats like the Betsy Ann evoke romantic images of river travel. In 1925, Captain Frederick Way Jr. purchased the Betsy Ann to run packet service between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
Barges Photo on Boats on the Ohio Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
7. Barges Photo on Boats on the Ohio Marker
Although coal is the most common cargo on the Ohio River, barges also carry grain, salt, hay, and iron ore.
Diesel Towboat Photo on Boats on the Ohio Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
8. Diesel Towboat Photo on Boats on the Ohio Marker
A modern diesel towboat moves down the Ohio River. The term "tow" refers to the lashed assembly of barges pushed by a towboat. Tows on the Ohio River can be up to 1,150 feet long.
Life on the River and Boats on the Ohio Markers Pavilion image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., May 30, 2009
9. Life on the River and Boats on the Ohio Markers Pavilion
Other markers can be seen in the background.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 1,418 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.   2. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.   3, 4, 5. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.   6, 7, 8. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.   9. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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