Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 30, 1974 · Page 72
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 72

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 30, 1974
Page 72
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Page 72 article text (OCR)

^/ ' * ... Taroma, already jam-packed with freight, takes on more at a farm landing. Collar Line steamers leaving Cincinnati. Coal was an unusual cargo for a packet boat to carry, but the Kanawha River had been at such a low stage for so long the Cincinnati steamboats were facing a fuel shortage: At the mines, high"grade coal was loaded on the Sunshine's guards, in the deck room, and on her head. Then, downbound in fog at Knob Shoals, she struck that sizeable rock and settled, to remain there in shallow water for about three months, until the first autumn rise appeared. . In raising the Sunshine, the only way crews could get the big, round rock out of the way was to roll it inside the hull, through the hole it had made. Thus the rock that caused the trouble was carried down to Point Pleasant arid pushed out on the bank when the steamer was pulled ; out for repairs. '^'- ·· ·':-.. -.. ' ' » · · · ' . -'."'A Pittsburgh-Charleston -' packet, the 193-foot Senator : Cordill, went aground on the " b a r below the mouth of Elk River while downbound on -March 12, 1927. The Cordill ;was not severely damaged, but a falling river soon left it perched there above river level, an object of curiosity for almost three weeks until higher water floated it off. The steamer Kanawha, on which Jim Harmon had stood watch, as "striker" engineer in 1907and '08. came to a disastrous end on the Ohio. Sacking away from the landing at Little Hocking. 0.. against a swift river and high wind.- one evening -in January, 1916, she struck a submerged part of Lock 19 on the West Virginia side iWith a frightening shock. She *list0d.:tegan to sink 1 imme- StoteMagcuine, June dQjiSfit · diately, and then capsized. Sixteen lives were lost. Most of those who survived did so by making their way to the drifting hull while it floated for miles, down past Newberry and Mustapha Islands. With darkness, the weather had become extremely cold, with a chilling rain blown by a strong wind. The hero of the disaster was a member of the staff of Lock and Dam 19, Harold B. Wright. Alone in a skiff, he repeatedly rowed out to the drifting hulk, taking off as many as could be carried each time and following the derelict as it was carried down the black river. He was later assisted by members of the Kanawha's crew, who had launched a lifeboat. The last of those removed from the wreck had drifted on it for almost two hours. Harold Wright was a member of a Kanawha Valley family prominent on the rivers for considerably more than a century. His son, Capt. Harold B.Wright Jr. is how a Union Barge Line pilot, standing watch on the big tows moving between Pittsburgh and the lower river. . ·· ' » The best and some of the biggest packet steamers running regularly on the Kanawha were there during the final years of packet boating on the river: ; Undoubtedly, the two best of this latter group were the Tom-Greene and Chris Greene, both of steel construction, built in the early 1920's for the Greene Line. The Tom Greene was the first of the two, launched in 1923 by the Marietta Manufacturing Co. of Point Pleasant. The slightly smaller Chris Greene, 189.2 feet long, built at Charleston in 1925 by the Charles Ward Engineering Works, was acclaimed by many rivermeh as the most practical packet ever built. The Chris floated lightly in 'hris£reene?say o'fl rrvermen.SU* om-'of* th^most'prartical packets ever built. the water, had nice proportions, was a good freight carrier, and had an attractive second-deck cabin area for passengers. What's more, the Chris handled well and was easy on fuel. These two notable steamers remained in the Cincinnati-Charleston trade until late in 1930. In the late 1930's, the biggest packet to ever run on the Kanawha made its appearance, that was the three-deck, 210-foot Gordon C. Greene, which, despite its size, made one trip above Montgomery, almost to Mt. Carbon, in August, 1946. From 1918 to 1922, the Pittsburgh-Charleston trade was served by the General Crowder, a boat that had come from the Cumberland River and had originally borne the name of R. Dunbar. On the Cumberland, it. had been owned by the Ryman Line -- named for its founder, principal owner, and general manager, Capt. Tom Ryman. And who was this Capt. Tom Ryman? He was an extremely religious man, known for his church work and his contributions to charities. In 1890, he had a leading part in planning and financing Nashville's Union Gospel Tabernacle, later known to Grand Ole Opry fans as the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Opry until it was recently abandoned for a new and extensive musical auditorium and park on the banks of the Cumberland River. There's no doubt about it, packet-boating on the Kanawha was a colorful and exciting activity, carried on by- some fascinating people. .W, VIA,

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