that Incredible Voyage
cruises to kick off
Steamboat history celebration
festivities mark 200th anniversary
Lela Jane Bradshaw
(April 2011) 2011 marks the 200th anniversary
of a journey that helped set the stage for the booming river towns of
the 1800s and changed the way the American public would think about
1811, a steamboat traveled down
the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers for the
first time. In this photo, the Belle of
Louisville cruises down the Ohio River.
In 1811 a steamboat traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi
Rivers from Pittsburgh to New Orleans in a trip that would open cultural
and material trade within the young United States in a way that many
of the time could never have imagined. Journeys that were once slow
and harsh overland would become rapid and even luxurious thanks to the
power of the steamboats.
To honor this historic voyage, the Rivers Institute at Hanover College
has worked to coordinate a Bicentennial Steamboat Celebration that will
run throughout much of the year. It will present a wide range of artistic,
educational, and entertainment opportunities. Established in 2004 with
a grant from the Lilly Foundation, the Rivers Institute at Hanover College
is dedicated to promoting an understanding of the natural and
cultural history of river environments. The first major event
for the celebration will take place in early May with two steamboat
This is the first big event that were doing, explains
Marissa Austin, Director of External Relations. Its been
a lot of fun so exciting Im learning so
On May 1-2, the famed Belle of Cincinnati will offer two unique cruise
experiences as the boat makes her journey to Louisville to take part
in the Great Steamboat Race, a part of the Kentucky Derby Celebration.
On Sunday, May 1, guests will be able to enjoy a variety of entertainment
and educational activities as they travel from Newport, Ky., to Madison,
Ind. During this lunch and dinner cruise, guests can learn about the
history of river navigation and the 1937 flood. Art lovers can enjoy
a presentation on painter Harlan Hubbard, whose work was heavily inspired
by the Ohio River, and a discussion of river photographs from the late
18 and early 1900s.
A living look back on the past will be available when two performers
from the Cincinnati Museum Center take on the personas of characters
from the 1800s. These costumed actors will make guests feel they are
in the presence of time travelers with their improvisations.
Those taking part in the Sunday cruise will also pass through the Markland
Dam. Then on Monday, visitors can join the Belle on the final leg of
her journey to Louisville, where once again the Belle of Cincinnati
and the Bell of Louisville will vie for bragging rights in their yearly
race. Last year, the Belle of Cincinnati emerged victorious, so guests
on the cruise will have a chance to cheer her on to a possible repeat
On each day of the cruise guests will also be able to view the traveling
steamboat exhibit that was created in conjunction with the Indiana Historical
Society and the Rivers Institute. This exhibit, titled, Steamboat
a Comin: The Legacy of the New Orleans, highlights different
aspects of steamboat history from the economic impact of the boats to
the dangers of the river to the romance of steam travel.
Ron Grimes, archivist for the Jefferson County Historical Society, describes
the display as consisting of 19 banner panels, each seven feet tall.
Grimes says he is looking forward to the exhibits stop at the
Jefferson Historical Society saying, From what Ive seen
of their exhibits before, they are usually very interesting. After
being shown during the May cruises, the exhibit will then be presented
at the Jefferson Historical Society from June 1 to July 12. Grimes points
out that the steamboat bicentennial ties in neatly with the Jefferson
County bicentennial. The county bicentennial exhibit will be on display
beginning in May and will showcase many original historic documents
that have never before been shown in public.
For more information, visit: http://rivers.hanover.edu/steamboat2011.
The price of the May 1 cruise from Newpost to Madison is $95; the May
2 cruise from Madison to Louisville is $65.
Back to April 2011 Articles.