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Star City in Monongalia County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
 

Locks and Dams

1873 - Present

 
 
Locks and Dams Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bradley Owen, June 14, 2022
1. Locks and Dams Marker
Inscription.  
Where Banks Cave in
The name "Monongahela" comes from a Lenape (Delaware) word meaning "falling banks." The river flows north from present-day Fairmont, WV to Pittsburgh, PA, along a course of uncertain depths. Until the late 19th century, the river would occassionally dry up entirely around Morgantown.

One for the Money
The steamboat Reindeer was the first to arrive in Morgantown in 1826. It was 33 years later that the Globe reached Fairmont to collect a $1000 prize as the first to reach the end of the river.

All Under Control
Until 1873, the journey from Pittsburgh to Fairmont was a difficult one because of the river's varying depths. Consequently, over the first half of the 19th century, Pennsylvania signed contracts with companies to construct and operate six lock-and-dam structures. These extended navigable waters to the Monongalia County border.

The Man Behind the Dams
In 1873, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), under Colonel William Merrill, began work on the lock-and-dam system from the PA border to Fairmont, WV. In the
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next sixteen years, Col. Merrill oversaw the construction of three more locks-and-dams to reach Morgantown. He rode into Fairmont on the Adam Jacobs to celebrate the river's being made navigable on November 8, 1889.

By the Boatload
By 1891, boats traveling between Morgantown and Pittsburgh were carring 17,000 passengers and 24,000 tons of freight per year. Twelve years later, the entire river was made navigable with the addition of six more locks-and-dams to Fairmont. Starting in 1950, the USACE began reducing the number of lock-and-dam structures south of the PA border from nine to three.

(Captions):

Steamboat Columbia, Pittsburgh to Morgantown, W. Va. (1905-1925)
West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries
Source: Richard M. and Norma Duez - West Virginia History OnView

Low Water Levels on the Monongahela River below the Bridge to Westover in Morgantown, W. Va. (1930)
West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries
Source: Unknown - West Viriginia History OnView

Swimming at Old Lock on Monongahela River, Morgantown, W. Va. (Date Unknown)
West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries
Source: Morgantown Post West Virginia History OnView

Steamboat
Locks and Dams Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bradley Owen, June 15, 2022
2. Locks and Dams Marker
The marker is on the far right.
Isaac M Mason at Morgantown Lock-and-Dam (1900-1910)
West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries
Source: Scott Gibson - Gibson Collection

Loading Coal Barges at Star City (1967)
West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries
Source: Consolidation Coal Company - West Virginia History OnView

Col. William E. Merrill (1837-1891)
Cincinnati and Pittsburgh District Engineer (1870-1891)
Source: Gilman, D.C.; Peck, H.T.; Colby, F. M. eds.
The New International Encyclopedia (1905)

 
Erected 2021 by West Virginia Humanities Council, Upper Monongahela River Association and Laick Design. (Marker Number 8.)
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1826.
 
Location. 39° 39.606′ N, 79° 59.45′ W. Marker is in Star City, West Virginia, in Monongalia County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Frontier Street and University Avenue, on the left when traveling north. Marker is located in Edith Barill Riverfront Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Morgantown WV 26505, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Star City Bridge (a few steps from this marker); The B & O Railroad (within shouting distance
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of this marker); Honor Roll Star City, W.Va. (within shouting distance of this marker); Star City Water Quality (within shouting distance of this marker); John F. Kennedy Memorial Park (within shouting distance of this marker); Star City Veterans Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Socialism in Star City (within shouting distance of this marker); The Founding of Star City (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Star City.
 
Regarding Locks and Dams. In the "By the Boatload" section, the word "carrying" is misspelled on the marker.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 1, 2022. It was originally submitted on June 28, 2022, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. This page has been viewed 95 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 28, 2022, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 1, 2024