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 —
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 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
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.
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 near this postal address: 248 North Foster Street, Dothan AL 36303, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Federal Building (within shouting distance of this marker); 1905 Houston County Courthouse Bell (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Dothan Opera House (about 700 feet away); Main Street Commercial Historic District (about 800 feet away); The Founding of Dothan (about 800 feet away); Houston County (about 800 feet away); Johnny Mack Brown (approx. 0.2 miles away); Poplar Head Spring (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Dothan.
Also see . . . Dothan Murals. The Steamboat Era This mural pays homage to one of the Wiregrass’s prominent forms of transportation in the 1800’s—the steamboat. Along with freight hauling, some boats did a booming vacation business. Many boats such as the John W. Callahan, owned by Mr. Callahan, had their vessels outfitted to offer the best amenities available for their passengers. Click here to listen: (Submitted on October 17, 2011, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa.)
Categories. • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 17, 2011, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 744 times since then and 93 times this year. Last updated on May 28, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on October 17, 2011, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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