Steamboats were once a common sight on the Ohio River. The first Steamboat boat built on the Ohio River was the New Orleans a 400 ton boat built in 1812. The Riverboat age was brought about because roads were difficult to travel and the railroad had not linked all of the towns and villages. These boats were a preferred way to travel in comfort for most people. Mail, news and produce were also commonly sent by boat.
     Another common sight from the era was boat races. Captains of these crafts would often challenge each other to races on the river. One such race is documented in RiverNews Volume 1. The race in question was between the Chesapeake, captained by Uriah B. Scott, and the Fanny Dugan, captained by A. J. “Jack” McAllister. Of course, the races were not safe and the resulting explosions often cost the lives of passengers, deckhands, and livestock.
     Accidents were common on these steam-powered machines. The boilers with it high temperatures and pressure were a common cause of disasters aboard ship. However, like most water fairing crafts, water, wind, weather, floods, snags, ice, and lack of water could cause accidents, too. Specific stories of disasters can be found in the RiverNews books.

City of Ironton      Minnie   Minnie Bay
Ironton Wharf Boat and Ferry     Ironton Wharf Boat
Bay Brothers Boats   Fannie Dugan   Bonanza

City of Ironton

    The City of Ironton was built by the Bay Brothers. The boat met an untimely end when it caught fire and burned.

The Minnie

    The Minnie was captained by Uriah B. Scott, who won international fame for building the Telephone, the fastest sternwheeler.

The Minnie Bay

    The Minnie Bay was owned by the Bay Brothers. Her building was completed at Wheeling, West Virginia. She had three boilers and an eighteen foot diameter paddlewheel. Named for Captain George Bay's daughter, the Minnie Bay measure 182'x27'x4'8". She was built for the Portsmouth-Proctorville trade. And later she ran the Parkersburg-Gallipolis trade.

Ironton Wharf Boat

    The picture to the right is taken from a postcard donated to the library. It features an Ironton house and wharf boat.

Ironton Wharf Boat with Ferry


    The picture to the left is from a postcard donated to the library. It features an wharf boat and a C&O ferry in Ironton.

Bay Brothers Boats

The Fannie Dugan

    On November 23, 1871, the launching of the new, faster steamboat the Fannie Dugan was announced. She launched from the Wise's Boat Yard. Her main job was to carry mail from Portsmouth to Pine Creek, Franklin Furnace, Greenup, Ironton, Ashland, Catlettsburg, and Huntington.One of her captains was A. J. "Jack"McAllister who raced the Fannie Dugan against the Chesapeake on St. Patrick's Day 1872. The Fannie Dugan won.


    The Bonanza was owned by the White Collar Line, also known as the Cincinnati, Big Sandy and Pomeroy Packet Company. This steambost mainly ran the Cincinnati-Pomeroy Route.