Jeffersonville’s Steamboat Days

Howard Steamboat Museum
to join riverboat celebration

Several events help tell steamboat history

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (October 2014) – The Howard Steamboat Museum in Jeffersonville, Ind., is paying tribute to the centennial celebration for the Belle of Louisville in several different ways. Because of its history, the museum is the perfect place to host events relating to the steamboat era.

In tribute to the Centennial Celebration for the Belle of Louisville, the Howard Steamboat Museum presents:

• Sunday, Oct. 12 at 3 p.m.: Presentation and Book Signing for “Nosey’s Wild Ride on the Belle of Louisville.” Author Martha Driscoll will be “on deck” to talk about her new children’s book concerning a mischievous cat who stows away aboard the Belle for an afternoon cruise. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to benefit the operating fund of the museum.
• Saturday, Oct. 18 at 3 p.m.: “The Lady was a Tramp.” Recollections of a career aboard the tramping excursion steamboat Avalon, now the Belle of Louisville. Capt. Clarke “Doc” Hawley  will speak. He is a retired New Orleans steamboat captain and river historian. Admission is $5 per person.
• Sunday, Oct. 19 at 3 p.m.: “Paddlin’ into the Past.” A multi-media history of the Idlewild-Avalon-Belle of Louisville. Dubuque, Iowa, steamboat historians David and Jonathan Tschiggfrie will present. Admission is $5 per person.

• The Howard Steamboat Museum & Mansion, 1101 E. Market St., Jeffersonville, Ind., will be open for self-guided tours during the festival week. Hours are 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (mansion and museum close at 4 p.m.); 1-3 p.m. Sunday. Admission charged.
• Museum highlights: The gift shop specializes in steamboat and river books. The cast iron brig used on the Belle, installed during its early years as the Idlewild and removed in 1997, is displayed on the museum grounds. An encased special exhibit, “Centennial Celebration,” featuring photographs and memorabilia from the Belle throughout its career, is on display.

• Information: Contact curator Keith Norrington at (812) 283-3728 or visit: www.SteamboatMuseum.org.

“This will be a big celebration of the Belle’s 100th birthday and a grand celebration of our river heritage,” said Keith Norrington, Director and Curator for the Howard Steamboat Museum. A New Albany, Ind., native, Norrington first volunteered at the museum in 1968. 
He then got a job playing the calliope and assistant purser for the Belle of Louisville for six straight summers. Eventually, “I ended up back here at the museum,” he said.
Norrington’s steamboat experiences actually began at age 9 when he toured the Howard Steamboat Museum for the first time. “There was just something about the stories.”
The museum is dedicated to the Howard family. In 1834, then 19-year-old James Howard started a shipyard on the banks of the Ohio in Jeffersonville and began to build his first boat, Hyperion.
During its three-generation, 107-year history, the Howard Shipyard would put more than 3,000 vessels in the Ohio River and establish the largest inland shipyard in America. The museum contains many artifacts relating to the steamboat era.
The museum, located at 1101 E. Market St., will kickoff its own activities related to the Belle’s 100th anniversary at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct.12, with a free presentation and book signing by local author Martha Driscoll. The widow of the late well-known Dr. David Driscoll, she has penned a children’s book about a mischievous cat who stows away aboard the Belle for an afternoon cruise titled, “Nosey’s Wild Ride on the Belle of Louisville.”
At 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, the museum will present “The Lady was a Tramp.” This program is given by and based upon the career of Capt. Clarke “Doc” Hawley, a retired New Orleans steamboat captain and river historian.
“He started his career on the Belle when it was the Avalon in 1952,” said Norrington. In addition to the Belle, Hawley later worked on the Delta Queen before moving to New Orleans to work on the Natchez.

Related Festival of Riverboats Articles:

• The Waiting Game

• History Lesson

• Festival of Riverboats

Although Hawley is retired and still lives in New Orleans, “he has a fondness for the Belle,” Norrington said. Admission is $5 per person for this program.
The following day, Sunday, Oct. 19, the museum will present “Paddlin’ into the Past” at 3 p.m. This multimedia presentation encompasses the entire history of the Idlewild-Avalon-Belle of Louisville.


It will be given by a Dubuque, Iowa, father-and-son team of steamboat historians, David and Jonathan Tschiggfrie. Admission for this program is $5 per person.
Since the Belle’s centennial celebration coincides with the Louisville Festival of Riverboats (Oct. 14-19), there will be many events going on in and around Jeffersonville as well.
Jeffersonville’s Steamboat Days takes place Oct. 18-19. This is an event that hasn’t taken place in a number of years, but this is the perfect time for it, Norrington said.
Hosted by the City of Jeffersonville, a full weekend of activities is planned that includes a juried art village, live art demonstrations, live music, a parade and a kids fun zone. 
The Howard Steamboat Museum & Mansion will be open for self-guided tours during the festival week. Admission is charged and the museum is closed on Mondays. Norrington said that 50 tours were already booked for this time period.
The cast-iron brig used on the Belle until 1997 is displayed on the museum grounds. Displayed in the museum is an encased special exhibit, “Centennial Celebration,” which features photographs and memorabilia from the Belle’s long career.

• For more information on these museum events, visit: www.SteamboatMuseum.org.

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