“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Dothan in Houston County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)

The Steamboat Era

Size: 82 Feet Long by 24 Feet High


— Painting completed January 2000 Artist Wes Hardin —

The Steamboat Era Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Sandra Hughes, July 12, 2011
1. The Steamboat Era Marker
Inscription.  There were few roads in the Wiregrass in 1800s - and the roads that were here were little more than twin rutted paths. The main transportation in the region was the steamboats on the Chattahoochee River on the east, and, to a lesser degree, the boats on the smaller Choctawhatchee, which flows through the center of the Wiregrass region.

On their journey upriver, the steamboats would carry supplies for the towns and plantations, and on their downstream journey they would carry produce, mainly bales of cotton, bales of cattle hides, and navel store (barrels of turpentine and pitch), heading for the factories in the East and Europe. The steamboats would tie up at small makeshift wharves along the river banks to load freight, and would even accept passengers and freight in midstream brought to them by small boats from one of the plantations along the river.

Some of the boats did booming vacation business. Many people would save their money and take a vacation by making a round trip excursion down the river to Apalachicola and return - usually a four-day trip from Dothan. The vacationers and regular passengers would have very nice
The Steamboat Era Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Sandra Hughes, July 12, 2011
2. The Steamboat Era Marker
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cabins on the middle decks, while the lower deck would be loaded with freight. Many boats, such as the John W. Callahan, had an excellent dining room and an orchestra that would be on the top deck playing music for the vacationers who would dance under the stars to the tunes and enjoy themselves. It was a romantic time.

The end of the steamboat era began with the coming of the railroads to the Wiregrass in 1889. Boats still ply the river today carrying gasoline, chemicals, and other produce upstream, and return loaded with pulp from the paper mills, and telephone poles destined for the eastern markets and Europe.

The John W. Callahan was 153 ft. long by 35 ft. wide, and measured only 31 inches from the bottom deck of the keel. It was really a huge barge with a paddle wheel.

It was necessary to build the boats in this manner because of the shallow water and sand bars in many places in the river.
Erected 2000.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1889.
Location. 31° 13.551′ N, 85° 23.535′ W. Marker is in Dothan, Alabama, in Houston County. Marker is on North Foster Street, 0.1 miles north of East Troy Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or
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near this postal address: 248 North Foster Street, Dothan AL 36303, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Federal Building (within shouting distance of this marker); A Memorial to the Fallen (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); 1905 Houston County Courthouse Bell (about 600 feet away); Dothan Opera House (about 700 feet away); Main Street Commercial Historic District (about 800 feet away); The Founding of Dothan, Alabama (about 800 feet away); Houston County (about 800 feet away); Dothan Municipal Light and Water Plant (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Dothan.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 4, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 17, 2011, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. This page has been viewed 990 times since then and 8 times this year. Last updated on May 28, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Accra, Ghana. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 17, 2011, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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Jan. 30, 2023