Rodney Burwell is the founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Xerxes Corporation, a leading manufacturer of structural fiberglass products. He invented the structural fiberglass reinforced plastic (SFRP) cargo lift-off barge cover, resulting in more grain being transported and lighter, easier-to-handle covers that ultimately would not rust.

Burwell’s invention has had a lasting impact on the river industry. His arched 11-ton FRP design replaced the heavier, flat 35-ton steel alternative at the same cost to the customer, resulting in more grain being transported in each of the 11-13 turns per year that a grain barge makes.

Proform, Incorporated was founded by Burwell on August 14, 1969, where the FRP barge covers were manufactured for Cargill, Inc. of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Over 5,000 cover systems were manufactured at Proform, Inc. from 1969 to 1985, some of which are still in use today.
Honored in 2006.

Vernon Behrhorst’s distinguished and productive career in water resources has been dedicated to the support and promotion of our nation’s inland waterways system, particularly the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

His parents were successful in instilling their three children with a dedication to public service. His father owned and operated a small petroleum products distributorship in a midwestern town. Mr. Behrhorst came to Louisiana to teach geography at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1957. Shortly after his arrival he became involved with the Louisiana Intracoastal Seaway Association.

As member and executive director of the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association, he supported new channels, but also reoriented GICA’s mission to include improvements, rehabilitation, operation, maintenance, environmental considerations, and correlative flood control issues.

He provided leadership in securing construction of the Leland Bownam Lock on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Louisiana, which was completed in 1985, replacing the antiquated 55-foot wide Vermilion Lock with a 110-by-1200 foot lock. This established 110 feet as the “standard” width for construction of new locks, breaking the then standing rule that the width of new locks would be no greater than the existing locks.

Vernon Behrhorst was involved with projects that provided both navigation and environmental benefits. For example, he guided authorization and construction, in record time, of the Sargent Beach erosion control project in Texas to prevent erosion of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway into the Gulf of Mexico. He currently serves as Special Advisor to the National Rivers Hall of Fame and National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.

Honored in 1997.

BowellCaptain William D. Bowell founded the Padelford Packet Boat Co., Inc., in 1969 and expanded the business to include four vessels offering daily sightseeing excursions, dinner cruises, school field trips, and private charters. He was instrumental in starting the National Passenger Vessel Owners Association (now Passenger Vessel Association). From only seven member companies in 1970, PVA has grown to more than 500 companies.

A paratrooper in World War II, Captain Bowell served with the 82nd Airborne Division and was awarded four battle stars and arrowhead, the presidential citation with oak leaf cluster, French and Belgian Croix de Guerres, a bronze star, and a purple heart. On D-Day he jumped behind enemy lines and was involved in extensive hand-to-hand combat.

After graduation from Macalester College in 1949, he acquired his riverboat license. Following a brief foray into the excursion boat business, Captain Bowell became a curator with the Minnesota State Historical Society, then was liaison engineer for Studebaker Corp. (South Bend, IN). Next he served as account executive with Edwards & Deutsch, a major publishing firm in Chicago where he was co-founder of the United Airline Mainliner, Oldsmobile Rocket Circle and Holiday Inns of America magazines. In 1962 he became a partner in United Scientific, Inc., a St. Paul firm specializing in high precision machine parts, plastic injection and compression moulding. He also owned a farm for experimental production of chicken broilers.

Captain Bowell was among the select group of founders of the National Rivers Hall of Fame and he has advised the organization since its founding, even arranging for the gift of the towboat Logsdon to the Hall of Fame. In 2002, Captain Bowell was instrumental in building a new showboat for the enjoyment of the residents and visitors to the Twin Cities.

Honored in 1995.

BryantBetty Bryant began her showboat career as a newborn in the early 1920s when she played the part of the baby in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She was raised on her family’s showboat and as it traveled up and down the Ohio River and tributaries until 1942.

Betty Bryant described her early years this way:

“The floating theater was my home and the river was my back yard. While other children were learning how to walk, I was learning how to swim, and I knew how to set a trotline, gig a frog, catch a crawfish, and strip the mud vein out of a carp by the time I was four. Dad called me a river rat . . . I was born at the tail end of a unique and delightful era and raised on one of the last showboats to struggle for survival against the devastating crunch of progress.”

Betty Bryant kept the memory of showboating alive by speaking, writing, and participating in major museum exhibits. She is the author of Here Comes the Showboat, published by University of Kentucky Press. When she died in 1999 at her home in Park Ridge, Illinois, she left her Showboat collection to the National Rivers Hall of Fame.

Honored in 1994.

Raised along the Mississippi in LeClaire, Iowa, Captain Ralph Clark piloted his uncle’s clam boat at the age of ten. Clamming was a major industry on the Mississippi at the time, with the shells being used to make buttons and the fresh water pearls very valuable as well.

At seventeen, Captain Clark began his fifty-five year career on the river. In 1937, he earned his operator’s license and master pilot’s license, which he has held ever since.

Captain Clark has been a long-trade barge line Master Pilot, a barge line executive, a shipyard developer, and a marine surveyor. He also has served as a consultant for location of bridges and docks.

In 1947 Captain Clark was appointed to serve on a three-member select committee to revise the Pilot’s Rules for Western Rivers. He has held national leadership positions with the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots, the Propeller Club, the Western Rivers Pilots Rules Committee, American Pilots Association, the National Rivers and Harbors Congress and other organizations.

Honored in 1987.

E.G. “Eddie” Conrad was born on Lagonda Plantation near Patterson, Louisiana, on Bayou Teche. At an early age his family moved to New Orleans, and he lived on or around water throughout his life. At sixteen he traveled the length of the Mississippi River from the Gulf to its source at Lake Itasca. This trip inspired his lifelong love of the peoples, cultures, and natural beauty of America’s rivers.

He founded Compass Towing Company, Inc. in 1963 at the age of twenty-three. His towing business expanded to include the operation of more than 40 boats on the Mississippi River system and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and employed more than 500 persons. He owned and operated ancillary services including fleeting and topside repair services.

He is best known for novel barge excursion business. In 1990, he developed specially designed barges to carry RVs along the bayous and backwaters of Southern Louisiana and the Mississippi River. Then he established River Barge Excursion Lines, Inc. which built the River Explorer which was made up of two hotel barges pushed by a tow boat. These floating hotels carry 198 guests on excursions on the nation’s inland rivers, including the Mississippi, Cumberland, Atchafalaya, Ohio and Missouri Rivers and Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

The Port of New Orleans Propeller Club recognized Eddie Conrad as the Maritime Person of the Year for 2001.

Honored in 2001.

During Senator John C. Culver’s sixteen years of service in the U.S. Congress, he translated his affection for the river into projects of lasting benefit for the nation.

Senator Culver was instrumental in preserving the Delta Queen. The 1966 Safety at Sea Law threatened to force the Delta Queen out of service because it required all-steel structures. Senator Culver led the successful effort to secure a federal exemption for the Delta Queen. Thousands of people have experienced the joy of riding the famous steamboat and, hundreds of thousands more have witnessed her majestically paddling the rivers of America.

Senator Culver authored the Endangered Species Act and played a key role in obtaining funds for a visitor’s center for the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and Fish Refuge, at Marquette, Iowa. He secured funds for flood protection walls and levees for the cities of Dubuque and Clinton, Iowa, as well as numerous smaller Iowa communities along the river devastated by the great flood of 1965. He authored legislation supporting the Great River Road and helped acquire the steam dredge William M. Black for the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium and National Rivers Hall of Fame.

A graduate of Harvard College (cum laude) and the Harvard Law School, Senator Culver also studied at Cambridge as a Lionel de Jersey Harvard Scholar at Emmanuel College. He has served as director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and is a member of the Senior Advisory committee of the Institute of Politics of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and a member of the Harvard University Football Hall of Fame. Elizabeth Drew wrote a book, entitled Senator, about him and his role and responsibilities as an U.S. Senator.

Honored in 1998.

Bailey T. DeBardeleben was born in 1908 in Anniston, Alabama, and grew up in nearby Birmingham. He studied navigation for three summers at the Culver Military Summer Naval School.

After three years at Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) he left college to go to sea on the S.S.H.F. DeBardeleben, a ship named for his grandfather. His ship sank, stern first, about 500 miles east of New York, and the entire crew was picked up from lifeboats.

Captain DeBardeleben got his Pilot’s license for the new Gulf Intracoastal Canal from New Orleans to Galveston. In 1939 he became Manager of the Texas division of Coyle Lines. He served 15 years as Vice-President in the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association, and helped the Association enlarge the canal and extend it to Brownsville, Texas.

For twenty-seven years Captain Debardeleben served at Coyle and became its president. Coyle became the first barge line offering regular service between New Orleans and Houston, as well as to Freeport, to Corpus Christi, and to Brownsville. The company was the first to use radiotelephone communication from its office to its boats and from boat to boat and the first to employ union crews. Coyle was also the first to use stainless steel propellers on the canal and the river. The company pioneered the movement of molten sulfur in barges on the Mississippi River, using thermos barges. During World War II, Coyle towed submarine chasers built in Pittsburgh through the canal to shipyards in Texas for outfitting. Coyle also moved several offshore drilling rigs from Vicksburg to New Orleans.

DeBardeleben Marine Corporation bought Coyle Lines in 1959 and Mr. Debardeleben was made President. He left that company in 1966 and formed Bailey Barge Line, Inc., which he and his son, Lane, operated until his retirement in 1988. He died in 2000.
Honored in 1994.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas started the drive for the Everglades National Park and was one of the Nation’s leading conservationists. She continued to speak on behalf of Florida conservation well into her 100s.
She was the president and founder of the 4,000-member Friends of the Everglades, and the Florida Audubon Society named her “Protector of the Everglades.” The state of Florida renamed the Tallahassee Department of Natural Resources Building as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas building. In 1985, she was recognized as “The Lady of the Everglades” by the Florida legislature and Gov. Robert Graham, who stated that Mrs. Douglas had “done more than any one person to teach people of Florida about the Everglades.”

Marjory Stoneman Douglas was born in 1890 in Minneapolis, reared near Boston, and began her writing career in Miami in 1915 with the Miami Herald. In 1927 she served on the original committee for the creation of the Everglades National Park, the subtropical rain forest and wildlife preserve stretching 100 miles from Lake Okeechobee to Florida’s southern tip.

As writer, speaker and conservation activist, she consistently fought for the preservation of the inland waters and environment of Florida, earning the first “Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award for Citizen Conservation” from the National Parks and Conservation Association. Her most well-known work is The Everglades, The River of Grass, published as a part of the Rivers of America series in 1947, the same year that the Everglades National Park was dedicated. Ms. Douglas died in 1998.
Honored in 1986.

For over two decades, Ralph DuPae assembled a collection of historic steamboat photographs. With the help of his employer, Northern Engraving, who underwrote the cost of travel, Mr. DuPae initiated a cross-country search for historic steamboat photographs. He thought he might collect 5,000 images. And with the help of river people from across the country, he reached his goal.

But he kept collecting. Soon he had collected 10,000 photos, then 15,000, then 20,000. Collectors and historians kept finding more pictures of steamboats, rafting boats, river towns and other views.

Thanks largely to Ralph DuPae’s efforts, the people of America have a collection of over 45,000 steamboat images and another 11,000 images of rafting scenes, town views and bridges. This collection is one of the most important resources of steamboat history in America.

These photographs have been used in exhibits across the country and appear regularly in publications such as the “Waterways Journal” and the “S and D Reflector.” The photographic collection is housed and preserved at the Murphy Library at the State University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.

Honored in 1990.

Ruth Ferris taught younger generations what the rivers mean to the nation and introduced hundreds of young students the St. Louis Community School to the wonders of the rivers and steam navigation.

One of her greatest achievements was the preservation of the pilothouse of the steamer Golden Eagle. This last St. Louis steamer sank at Grand Tower Towhead early in the morning of May 18, 1947. The pilothouse was trucked to the Community School where it became a famous attraction for many years, giving students a look at a real steamboat relic.

When Miss Ferris retired from the school, she became curator of river material at the Missouri Historical Society, and the pilothouse was brought there as focal point of the River Room. Miss Ferris then set up a river museum on the former U.S. Engineers’ steamer Becky Thatcher, where she continued to impress visitors with the history and importance of the river.

Miss Ferris, who died in 1993, preserved many papers and pictures of the rivers’ past and inspired a profound interest in the rivers in many, including Grammy-winning musician John Hartford, who wrote a song about her.

Honored in 1987.

Cheryl Felder has served in her position at Channel Shipyard Companies since 1999. She also served as Vice President of Turn Services from 2011 to 2012. Felder is a tireless supporter of the maritime industry, having volunteered on a number of boards and organizations for more than two decades. Her work and service over the years has brought people together for the purpose of strengthening the marine industry.

Felder has served as Treasurer of Waterways Council, Inc., since 2009, and as a member of its Executive Committee and Board of Directors. She is also a member of the American Waterways Operators’ Board of Directors; a member of the Board of the U.S. Coast Guard Foundation; and former President of the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association, and current At Large Director. Felder is a Trustee of the National Waterways Foundation, a member of the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association, former Chairman of the Lower Mississippi River Waterway Safety Advisory Committee, and a member of the Louisiana Association of Waterway Operators and Shipyards. She has served as Vice Chairman of the Maritime Navigation and Safety Association.

Honored in 2017.

Bernard Goldstein grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River in Rock Island, Illinois. His boyhood days by the river shaped his future career as a visionary businessman utilizing America’s waterways.

He was the first person in the Quad Cities to move scrap iron and steel on the Mississippi River, beginning in 1957. Based on that success, he founded Alter Barge Line in Davenport, Iowa, in 1960, moving scrap on the river with his own equipment.Mr. Goldstein saw opportunity in the riverboat gaming industry as well. In 1991, he founded Steamboat Casino River Cruises (later called Isle of Capri Casino), establishing one of the first riverboat casinos in America.His businesses of Alter Barge Line and Isle of Capri Casino have helped rejuvenate many waterfront communities in the Midwest. These ventures have created new businesses, steady jobs, and a more dependable tax base to bring many challenged waterfront economies back to life.

Honored in 1999.

Robert L. Gray of Ashland, Kentucky, worked with Ashland Petroleum Company and was involved in the introduction of radar to the inland waterways in 1946 and 1947.

As a student in Mechanical Engineering at Speed Scientific School at the University of Louisville in the 1930s, he knew that diesel engines were the coming thing. But the only way to gain diesel engine experience was to work on the river. So he began to work on the boats and at the boatyard at Jeffboat between his classes. When he graduated in 1941, he joined Ashland, beginning his full time career on the river.During WW II, radar was developed for use on the open seas, but it was classified and could not be used by commercial vessels. Following the war, radar became available for commercial use. Bob Gray joined an Ashland development team that worked with the Sperry Company. Their motto was “Let’s give radar a try!” They installed it on the MV Jim Martin and the MV Tri-State, to work out the bugs. It was a success. Soon RCA, Raytheon and other companies followed suit, and the era of radar on the inland waters was born.Bob Gray continued his career at Ashland and was involved with the company’s tremendous growth during the mid-20th century as their refinery outgrew the local supply of crude oil. He and his colleagues at Ashland teamed with the shipyards to develop the integrated tow. The “jumbo” tank barge of 195 ft. by 35 ft. became the industry standard, and he saw their fleet, “the poor man’s pipeline,” expand many times over. Soon Ashland had the largest tank barge feet in the country.

Honored in 1990.

Jesse B. Gunstream was a pioneer in the development of the modern barge industry along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. His career spanned more than 40 years, all with Higman Towing Company of Orange, Texas.

Under his leadership, Higman became a front-runner in implementing greater safety in vessel operations, gaining the confidence of many major oil companies. He was a pioneer in transportation of crude oil, which soon became one of the largest volume commodities transported on the inland waterways. He personally scheduled the transportation of more than one billion barrels of crude oil, all without a single major spill.

Mr. Gunstream and his company were also leaders in developing the modern operating concept of barge transportation on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. When he entered the business in 1952, most barges were towed on a hawser behind small model bow tugs. Higman began converting its fleet to push boats. This led to larger, twin-screw boats, which allowed larger barges. Barge capacities went from 10,000 barrels to 30,000 barrels, resulting in the modern liquid fleet, the safest form of surface transportation today.

Over the years, Mr. Gunstream developed a reputation as the expert in the movement of crude oil. He provided the needed “know how” when the U.S. Government decided to transport 100,000 barrels per day of imported crude from Nederland, Texas, to the salt domes at Hackberry, Louisiana.

Honored in 1997.

Singer and composer John Hartford, who won three Grammy awards for his music, was a steamboat pilot and performer. He recorded several albums and made regular appearances on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and the Glenn Campbell Goodtime Hour, but he was known in the river community for his river music.

Mr. Hartford won two Grammy awards for “Gentle on My Mind,” which has now surpassed four million air plays, and a third Grammy for his landmark album “Mark Twang.” He blended his two greatest loves, music and the river, composing songs which captured the style and feel of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

Whenever he could find time away from his busy performing schedule, John Hartford piloted the Mississippi River steamboat Julia Belle Swain from LeClaire, Iowa, to Galena, Illinois. And when he was not piloting a steamboat, he often worked on his outstanding collection of rare riverboat books, steamboat photographs and other river memorabilia.

John Hartford, who died in 2001, brought the Mississippi to millions of Americans with his songs of the mystery and majesty of the river.

Honored in 1988.

The Ingram Family began in the 19th century lumber trade and continues today as the largest domestic marine carrier in the country. Orrin Ingram, born in 1830 in New York, invented the gang edger, which allowed boards to be squared off at both ends at the same time. Soon every saw mill in the country ordered this revolutionary new invention. In 1857, Orrin began the Dole, Ingram and Kennedy Lumber Company in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, relying on huge log rafts floated down the Mississippi and Chippewa Rivers. The company became the Empire and Standard Lumber Company.

Orrin’s son, Erskine Ingram, diversified the family business, and grandson O. H. Ingram moved his family to Nashville, Tennessee, forming Ingram Spinning Company, Tennessee Tufting Company, Wood River Oil and Refining Company, and Ingram Barge Company. The family business continued under the inspired leadership of Bronson, his wife Martha, and Fritz, as well as the fifth generation including Orrin, John, David, and Robin. The Ingram Marine Group today operates more than 140 towboats and 4,000 barges and carries more tons than any other domestic marine carrier in the nation.

Captain Clarke C. (Doc) Hawley, during the course of his long river career, not only served as master of the three of the five remaining Mississippi River System steamboats, but he has done much to promote river history.

Except for two winter towboating stints, he has spent his entire career working with passengers and crew on excursion and tourist steamboats. His steamboating days began on the tramping excursion boat Avalon. He moved to the tourist boat Delta Queen, then to the excursion boat Belle of Louisville, and finally to the excursion steamer Natchez. He has hosted U.S. presidents, government officials, royalty, entertainment and sports stars, river buffs and countless media people. After most every trip he can be found on deck discussing some aspect of steamboating with passengers.

“Doc” Hawley’s generosity in sharing steamboat artifacts and knowledge with his river friends is boundless. He has preserved steam calliope music on several tapes and records and is one of the founders of the National Rivers Hall of Fame.

“Doc” Hawley began his river career luring passengers to the Avalon via her steam calliope, and he doubled as her popcorn popper. He was been dubbed by local media as the “Pied Piper of the French Quarter,” for his calliope playing on the Natchez. Captain Hawley has trained over 20 people who now hold captain’s licenses on the rivers.

Honored in 1993.

Captain Hudson was born in 1886 in Gasden, Alabama. His first job as a small boy was in the boatyard of the American Oak and Leather Company, carrying water to the carpenters who built wooden barges and towboats. Later he caulked boats and barges.

During World War I, he built and repaired ships for Beaumont Dry Docks in Beaumont, Texas and for International shipyards in Orange, Texas. Captain Hudson built a fleet of boats of a type that later became commonly known as “mussel boats,” complete with unique rigging and equipment designed to harvest mussel shells from the bottom of the river.

During the Great Depression, he fished, harvested mussel shells, rafted logs, and built boats to provide the necessities of life. He worked on the construction of the Wheeler and Guntersville Dams and later the Whitesburg Bridge at Huntsville.

Captain Hudson was in charge of the first tugboats used by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
During World War II, Captain Hudson was a pilot for Ingalls Shipyard in Decatur, where he tested the first ocean-going Liberty Ships built inland. He also supervised the operation of ten boats, which towed wood and steel barges loaded with oil, gasoline, pumps, and other war materials.

In the late 1940s Captain Hudson served as Captain of the luxury yacht, Tennessee Lady. During the early 1950s Captain Hudson operated a ferry at Stephenson, Alabama, and then at Bridgeport, Alabama, for the State of Alabama. Later he was engaged in commercial fishing on the Tennessee River in Decatur. In all, Captain Hudson, who died in 1967 at the age of 80, piloted 28 boats during his long career as a riverboat captain.

Honored in 1995.

A native of Ohio, William J. Hull spent most of his life in association with America’s waterways. He attended Phillips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts, and earned his B.A. and LL.B. degrees from Yale University, where he was valedictorian. He joined Ashland Oil, Inc., in Ashland, Kentucky, in 1951 as Executive Assistant. In 1956, he opened the company’s first office in Washington, D.C. He was Vice President when he retired in 1977.

Beginning in the early 1950s, he studied Federal laws and policies affecting river development. Ashland was growing from a small eastern Kentucky refinery into a Forbes 500 company by relying on barges to bring in crude oil and deliver refined products to independent marketers. In the process, Ashland soon operated the nation’s largest inland towing fleet.

Mr. Hull took a leading role in the Ohio Valley Improvement Association (OVIA), serving as Chairman of its Legislative Committee. In this role, for more than two decades, he made annual presentations to the Bureau of the Budget and later Office of Management and Budget at the White House, detailing the navigation needs of the Ohio River and its tributaries.

Mr. Hull was an astute legal scholar and a historian. Mr. Hull wrote The Origin and Development of the Waterways Policy of the United States, with his son Robert W. Hull, tracing waterways policy from Revolutionary times to mid-1960s.

Honored in 1993.

Joseph Merrick Jones, Jr. spent forty years of active service in the marine transportation business, including his role as Chairman of the Board of Canal Barge Company, Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana.

Canal Barge Company was founded in 1933 by his father, Joseph M. Jones and other investors with only one barge. Now the company owns and operates twenty-six vessels including towboats ranging from 800 to 7200 horsepower, an offshore supply vessel, and two 7,500 ton tankships as well as approximately 525 barges. Merrick Jones joined Canal Barge Company in 1957 and he took the reins of the company in 1963.

Canal Barge Company has been a pioneer throughout its history. In 1933, the company operated the first all welded steel tank barge to haul fuel along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. In 1939, the m/v Bull Calf was constructed, a revolutionary towboat which became the model for landing craft used in World War II.

In 1947, Canal Barge developed the industry’s first integrated tank barge tow to minimize resistance and drag. In 1957, Canal Barge pioneered the first high-speed integrated tow and towboat dedicated to the carriage of sensitive liquid chemicals and lubricating oil from the Gulf Coast to Chicago, Illinois.

Thanks to the leadership of Merrick Jones, who died in 2001, Canal Barge today is one of the most successful movers of products on the river, including “project” cargoes.

Honored in 1998.

Catherine Reynolds King was born on the river. In fact, she was born on her father’s showboat, the American, as it drifted down the Ohio in the clutches of an ice floe. The doctor who had come to deliver her watched helplessly from the West Virginia shore.

Ms. King spent her early years on the Ohio and the rivers that feed it on board the family showboats. Catherine’s father, Thomas Jefferson Reynolds, built and captained three showboats on the Ohio River and its tributaries from 1910 to 1959. The first was the Illinois, a dish and tin ware shop and silent moving picture showboat. Bench seating capacity was 200, and admission was 10 cents. But the Illinois burned at Foster, Kentucky, in 1916, and Catherine’s youngest brother, Norman, lost his life in the fire.

The Reynolds family’s next showboat, the America, presented live drama and vaudeville. It had a main floor and balcony seating with a capacity of 300.

In the fall and winter of 1922, the Reynolds family built the Majestic with seating capacity of 425. The Reynolds family broke records in their operation of the Majestic, the longest running showboat on the river under the same owner. They carried the largest professional crew each season, eight or more, in addition to the family actors and musicians. Catherine Reynolds King, who passed away in 1998, recorded her experience on the Majestic in her book, Cargo of Memories.

Honored in 1994.

Captain Charles Lehman is one of the few waterway industry leaders who has a good understanding of waterway operations (as a former pilot), of the barge industry (as a long-time official), and of the Washington political environment (as a veteran and effective lobbyist for the waterways’ cause). He is held in high esteem by the towing industry, the regulatory agencies, political groups and the Congress of the United States.

Captain Lehman was born in Chicago, Illinois, and moved with his family to St. Louis, Missouri, when he was 10 years old. When he graduated from high school he accepted a job as a deckhand aboard a Norwegian-Flag vessel through the summer.

After a stint of 3 _ years in the Navy, he came back to the river, working for the Commercial Petroleum and Transport Company as tankerman on the M.V. William Clark. He studied for his pilot’s license, which he got in 1958, and in 1960 he became barge maintenance superintendent. Commercial Petroleum and Transport Company and Commercial Barge Line Company merged with American Barge Line to become the American Commercial Barge Line Company, and Mr. Lehman worked as Public Affairs Director and Vice President.

By working his way though the ranks from a deckhand tankerman to a national leader, he gained knowledge of riverboats and barge operations based on years of experience. His keen perception contributed to American Commercial Barge Line Company’s becoming the largest towing company on the inland waterways.

Captain Lehman worked with the U.S. Coast Guard as Vice Chairman of the Rules of the Road Advisory Committee. He played the lead role in the unification of the navigation rules governing the operation of towboats and barges on Inland Rivers, Western Rivers, and the Great Lakes. He wrote the report to Congress, which ultimately became law, unifying three different sets of rules into one. For his tireless efforts and contributions he received the “Distinguished Public Service Award,” the highest civilian award bestowed by the U.S. Government.

Honored in 1995.

Known to friends as “Doug”, was born into a river man’s family and has been involved in the river industry all his life. McGinnis has a unique knowledge of rivers, their industries and people. Almost 50 years ago he purchased Portsmouth Docking Company from his parents to start his own company, McGinnis Inc., which he developed into a major marine repair services provider.The company was proud to recently celebrate its 100 year anniversary.

McGinnis was the Port of Huntington Propeller Club President in Huntington, West Virginia, from 1988-1992. He was instrumental in recruiting local Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and other river industry personnel as club members to work together to keep the Port of Huntington safe and the waterways industry alive and flourishing in its river communities. At that time, the Port of Huntington was the largest tonnage port on the inland waterways and the fifth largest tonnage port in the nation.

The McGinnis family has been in the marine business since 1913 and currently employs over 900 people at facilities in four states. McGinnis Inc. services the entire inland waterways through its holdings, and this family business continues to grow. Today, the McGinnis family of companies provide services that include boat and barge repairs, diesel engine repairs, harbor and line haul towing services, sand blasting and painting, marine construction, dredging and mid-stream fueling just to name a few.

Doug McGinnis currently serves as the McGinnis company chairman. McGinnis Inc./McNational Inc. owns operations in Ohio (South Point, Cincinnati, Coal Grove, and Wheelersburg), Kentucky (Wurtland, Ludlow, Hebron, Ledbetter, and Paducah), Illinois (Hartford), and Louisiana (Harahan). McGinnis has also received many leadership and professional accolades throughout his career. He actively supports his company’s local South Point, Ohio-area youth through giving generously to the schools and helping to fund bands, sports, and other extracurricular programs and projects.

The enthusiasm and devotion of McGinnis to the marine industry positively influences our waterways. His family history and bonds with the river industry and its people make him an invaluable Hall of Fame member and a true river role model.

Honored in 2008.

Scott McGeorge has been actively involved in the inland waterways industry since 1968 when he joined the family business, Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel Company (PBSG). Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel is a 104-year-old company and highly respected in the industry. McGeorge served as President of the company from

1983 to 2016, at which time he became Senior Vice President and Chairman of the Board.

McGeorge is actively involved in the furtherance of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. He was Co-Chairman of Montgomery Point Lock and Dam Coalition. In this capacity, Scott made numerous trips to Washington, D.C. over several years, both individually and with various Arkansas River associations, in an effort to obtain authorization and funding for the Montgomery Point Lock and Dam on the White River channel at its entrance to the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. Montgomery Point was designed to maintain a year-round navigation pool and eliminate the need for major dredging in the area. It was completed in July 2004 after two decades of planning and construction and at a cost of $237 million.

A longtime advocate for Alabama’s seaport and waterways, Sheldon Morgan has dedicated numerous years of service to promoting and furthering transportation on Alabama’s inland waterways. A native of Pine Hill, Alabama, Morgan began his training in 1957 with the Alabama State Docks.

Mr. Morgan is a graduate of Pine Hill High School. He served four years in the U.S. Air Force. He received B.A. and M.S. degrees from Auburn University and pursued special studies in organizational management at the University of Georgia and the University of Colorado. He is a graduate of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University.

In 1957, he began his career with the Alabama State Docks in sales, advertising and public relations. After four years with the Docks, he joined the Mobile Chamber of Commerce as Manager of World Trade, Port and Waterways activities and, later, economic development and industrial recruitment. He joined the Merchants National Bank, later named Regions, in 1972. Morgan retired from Regions Bank in 1995 as Senior Vice President of Corporate Banking. He is past president of the National Waterways Conference headquartered in Washington, DC.

Currently, Mr. Morgan serves as President of the Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway Association where he is known for his tireless efforts in promoting efficient use and development of waterway sites, as a port official, and as a civic and business leader dedicated to a host of waterways initiatives.

Honored in 2002.

Dr. William J. Petersen, Steamboat Bill, was born on the banks of the Mississippi at Dubuque in 1901. His father sailed around the world three times in a German merchant ship and came to America in 1872, settling in Dubuque where the Diamond Jo boat Line employed him from 1873 to 1911.

Dr. Petersen graduated from the University of Dubuque and received his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. The classic book Steamboating on the Mississippi was his doctoral dissertation. During his research, he hitch-hiked 20,000 miles, 3,000 aboard Federal Barge Line boats and 17,000 by auto. He visited river towns, large and small, interviewed old rivermen, poured through old newspaper files, and collected steamboat photos, bills of lading, and anything relating to steamboating.

“Steamboat Bill,” as he is known by friends throughout the country, has written extensively on all phases of Mississippi steamboating. He contributed twenty articles to the Dictionary of American History, has written several encyclopedias and 300 articles in the Iowa State Historical Society’s Palimpsest.

He authored: True Tales of Iowa; Two Hundred Topics in Iowa History; Steamboating on the Upper Mississippi, Iowa; The Rivers of Her Valleys; Looking Backward on Hawkeyeland; Iowa History Reference Guide; The Story of Iowa; The Pageant of the Press; The Annals of Iowa; Mississippi River Panorama; and Towboating on the Mississippi.

Honored in 1986.

Captain Poe was a riverboat captain for over thirty-five years, traveling the Mississippi and other rivers continually for companies such as Ingram Barge Line and the Crounse Corporation. He also was vice president of operations for Nilo Barge Line, which towed products throughout the United States.

Captain Poe began his career on the river at the age of six weeks. His father was a towboat captain and the family used to live on board the towboats during the summer. When he was thirteen, he received his first job on the river as a cabin boy. His duties included waiting on tables, shining the captain’s and chief engineer’s shoes, and making their beds. “I really thought I was somebody,” Captain Poe says. “The next summer I got to go deck hand. Then I was REALLY working on the boat!”

In 1985, Captain Poe became the captain of the General Jackson, the $12 million excursion boat operated by the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Captain Poe epitomized the image of the riverboat captain as a natural storyteller, and he appeared many times on TNN Nashville Now program. He worked on the film “This land Is Your Land” with his father for Southern Illinois University Productions, the Ted Turner Production of “Missouri” and the network TV show “Mississippi” starring Ralph Waite.

Captain Wamp Poe (the Wamp is short for “Wampus Cat”) was the coordinator for the ice breaking operation between St. Louis and Cairo in 1978. He directed an attack of 22 towboats on a wall of ice that had dammed the river. According to Captain Poe, the ice dam “had an 11 foot wall of water behind it and, when it busted, it was absolutely one of the most awesome sights I’ve ever seen. Chunks of ice four times as big as the General Jackson literally just going down the river rolling like marbles, and the noise and just the sheer power. It was almost like an explosion.”

Honored in 1991.

Pregracke founded Living Lands & Waters (LL&W) in 1997. In the past 15 years, through his passion and commitment, he has inspired thousands of volunteers living in river communities to join him and his crew in clearing trash, removing invasive species, and planting native trees along the river. He and the crew have educated thousands of teachers in understanding how to use the river as a teaching tool.

Chad has made it his life’s work to promote the importance of the nation’s waterways and to help protect and preserve them, particularly the Mississippi River. He is a “River Pied Piper,” showing community members the amazing feeling one gets when hands-on involved on the river.

While Chad and LL&W will be known best for the garbage barge, Chad’s efforts to promote river stewardship go well beyond that, as he has directed the organization to more widely embrace its mission to help restore the country’s vital Mississippi River watershed. He helped created an education effort that is expanding; the MillionTrees project will help reforest the river way; and there is, no doubt, more to come. The numbers of volunteers, hours, tons of garbage, education sessions and trees planted does not begin to explain the impact Chad has had on the nation’s rivers. Chad has chosen to spend his life telling people about his passion for the river and getting them onboard. It is Chad’s way of serving the country.

Honored in 2014.

From the age of 6, Stoll had jobs in the Stoll Oil Company offices. As a teen he went down to the dock to talk to the boat crews. He began writing for the Waterways Journal when he was fifteen. During WWII he became part of the Catfish Navy that took war craft from the builders’ yards to New Orleans. Included in these vessels was LST-1, which was built at Neville Island by Dravo. During the mid 1930s, C.W. worked as a clerk on the packet Gordon C. Greene.

C.W. was a member of the crew that brought the Delta Queen up the Ohio River to Pittsburgh to be rebuilt in 1947. The next year, he helped bring the boat to its new home in Cincinnati.

In the early 1960s he was appointed to the new Louisville-Jefferson County Recreation Board where he was responsible for getting the board to acquire the steamer Avalon at auction. He envisioned the boat becoming a Louisville attraction and landmark. Once the vessel was acquired and renamed Belle of Louisville, he was very much part of running the boat as a member of the crew and consultant. He also played the Belle’s calliope on several occasions.
C.W. later served on the Metropolitan Parks and Recreation Board and was a chairman of the board of the Belle of Louisville.

C.W. Stoll, who died in 2001, was a river renaissance man. He was a musician, businessman, civic leader and a patron of the arts, best known for his association with the Belle of Louisville.

Honored in 2002.

Jim Swift came by his love of the river honestly. Mr. Swift reports, “I got river air in my lungs and river water in my veins when I was about six months old. My father was a contractor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and he built a houseboat that moved with the fleet to keep his family with him.”

Mr. Swift’s father’s collection of river pictures kept him interested in the rivers and he later joined the Waterways Journal, known as “the riverman’s Bible,” where he worked as historical columnist, business manager, advertising manager and vice president.

Mr. Swift has received the Commanders Award for Civilian Service from the Corps of Engineers, the Certificate of Merit from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Certificate of Appreciation form the National Association of Passenger Vessel Operators, the Plaque of Appreciation from the Golden Eagle River Club in St. Louis, and the Distinguished Service Award from the Herman T. Pott National Inland River Library.

Until his death in 2002, Jim Swift wrote the “Old Boat” column each week for the Waterways Journal, and his column was a favorite of readers throughout the inland waters.

Honored in 1989.

Perhaps Jim Walden’s most significant contribution to the river industry was the development of the midstream supply and refueling concept. In the late 1940s, a riverboat captain had to tie up in dock for as long as seven hours just to take on supplies, at that time a loss of up to $100 an hour. Mr. Walden reasoned that if he could provide the supplies midstream, the tows wouldn’t even have to slow down. He determined to try the idea in his hometown, Memphis, Tennessee.

Mr. Walden rented a small boat and arranged to sell groceries on commission for a local Memphis store. The Jim Walden Marine Supply Company was launched – “one of the country’s most unusual and successful supermarkets,” according to a 1950s Popular Science Magazine. The business grew quickly to include other midstream services such as refueling towboats. Mr. Walden commented, “We sold 350,000 gallons of diesel fuel in the first month.”

He established Helena Marine Service, a corporation that became known from Tulsa to Little Rock and from New Orleans to Cincinnati and beyond.

In the early 1970s, Mr. Walden began talking to then U.S. Representative Bill Alexander about the possibility of a harbor facility near Helena. Today, the Helena-West Helena-Phillips County slackwater harbor is a reality. Until his death in 1997, he remained active in the operation of a river terminal as well as the barge fleeting and switching service; at the Mississippi River Bridge at Helena.

Honored in 1997.

Lt. General Walter K. “Weary” Wilson spent his career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, serving as District Engineer for the St. Paul and Mobile Districts and Division Engineer for the South Atlantic Division of the Corps. President Kennedy appointed him Chief of Corps of Engineers in 1961, a post which he held until he retired in 1965. He then served as president of Southern Industries Corporation and chaired the Task Force 2000 in Mobile, Alabama before his death in 1985.

Lt. General Wilson’s first assignment with the Corps of Engineers was an assistant to the District Engineer in Mobile. Fourteen years of troop command, staff assignments, advanced study, and a teaching appointment at West Point followed. In October 1943, he reported to India as deputy engineer-in-chief in the newly formed Southeast Asia Command under Lord Louis Mountbatten. He remained in the China-Burma-India Theater throughout the war, spending the last eight months commanding American troops and overseeing the demobilization effort.

During the war, he achieved the rank of Brigadier General, at the age of 38. He took command of the St. Paul Engineer District in 1946 and became Mobile District Engineer in 1949. Lt. General Wilson was deputy chief of Engineers for construction when the Corps was supporting the ballistic missile and space programs. As Chief from 1961-1965, Lieutenant General Wilson guided the Corps through a difficult period of Army reorganization.

Lt. General Wilson received the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the French Legion of Honor, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Citation.

Honored in 1987.

In 1887 river commerce appeared to be on the way to oblivion; and the Waterways Journal began life as a publication called The River, with Abbott Veach as editor, publisher, business manager and vice-president at various times. In 1894 William Arste took over and was at the helm until 1921. Then Captain Donald T. Wright bought the publication and he was to put his stamp on the Journal for years to come.

The river business was at a very low point. The Inland Waterways Corporation, better known as the Federal Barge Lines, had formed to develop new types of boats and barges to replace the steam packet boats of the past.

Captain Wright supported the people and organizations that tried to improve the waterways through canals and dredging. He fought hard against low bridges, and rivermen who today safely navigate most bridges with safe clearances have Captain Wright to thank.

Under Captain Wright the Waterways Journal grew up, getting away from the more folksy columns such as Cairo Cuttings, Paducah Plucks, Gallipolis Gossip. Coverage of the Journal expanded as the river did, moving to the west with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and Arkansas-Verdigris Waterway System into Oklahoma.

Captain Wright died suddenly in 1965, but the Waterways Journal has continued to expand its service to the river industry. It acquired the Inland River Record, started the Inland River Guide in 1972, and then acquired Quimby’s Harbor Guide, for the recreational boater.

Honored in 1987.

Ken Wheeler resides in Paducah, Kentucky. He was employed by Litton Industries for 24 years, where he was a vital member of the team that produced nuclear submarines. From 1977 to 1980, he was vice-president of submarine programs at Ingalls. Since joining Midland Enterprises in 1981, Wheeler has held several positions, including vice-president of maintenance and repair at Port Allen Marine, president of Walker Boat Yard, vice- president of Hartley Marine, president of R&W Marine and vice-president of maintenance and repair for all Midland Enterprises companies.

From 1990 to 1992, Wheeler was president of the Propeller Club of the United States. He was president of the Tennessee River Valley Association and past chairman of the Waterways Industry Association of Paducah. Wheeler was also involved in the development of the River Heritage Center in Paducah.

Wheeler graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in mechanical engineering. He and his wife, Jean, have two daughters, Laura and Leslie, and two granddaughters, Sarah and Abigail.

Honored in 2007.

The National Rivers Hall of Fame presented the National Achievement Award to C. Berdon Lawrence at the Waterways Council Inc. dinner at the W Hotel in Washington, DC on Feb. 24, 2010.The presentation was part of the 9th Annual Leadership Service Award Celebration honoring Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Finance Committee. The National Rivers Hall of Fame Award celebrates Lawrence’s 40-year career on behalf of transportation on the nation’s inland waterways and recognizes Lawrence’s significant contributions to the rivers of America.

For the past ten years, C. Berdon Lawrence has served as the Executive Chairman of Kirby Corporation, the world’s largest tank barge company. The founder of Hollywood Marine, Lawrence served as its president and CEO for almost 30 years before he merged Hollywood Marine with Kirby Corporation in 1999. He has been active in river transportation issues and has served as the chairman of the American Waterways Operators, the National Waterways Conference, the Inland Waterways Users Board, the Texas Waterways Operators, the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association, the Clean Channel Association of Houston/Galveston, and the Waterways Council. He also served as an advisory director for Cogen Technologies in Houston, which was sold to Enron Corp., and has sat on the board of Pennzoil/Quaker State for 10 years. Lawrence was one of the founders of Waterways Work, which became the Waterways Council.

Hollywood Marine and now Kirby Corp. is a leader in the quality movement in the barge industry. Under Lawrence’s direction, Hollywood Marine was the first U.S.-flagged vessel owner to achieve ISO 9002 certification and the first operator to offer privately owned, U.S. Coast Guard-approved tankerman, firefighing and steersman training schools. Some of the innovations at Hollywood and Kirby such as double-skin equipment later became industry standards. Kirby Corp. values high-quality in operations, safety, a good environmental record and dependable service.

Lawrence was exposed to the marine business through his father’s involvement in the oil and gas exploration business that included the use of towboats and barges. Lawrence grew up in the marine transportation business and remains close and active in the field. He received a B.B.A. from Tulane University in 1964 and a M.B.A., also from Tulane, in 1965.

Executive Director of the Hall of Fame, Jerry Enzler said, “Berdon Lawrence has had an extraordinary career on America’s waterways and his story needs to be told in the National Rivers Hall of Fame.”

Milton P. Barschdorf was born in Adams, Massachusetts, on September 22, 1912, and graduated from Adams High School in 1929. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

He served 21 years in the Army Corps of Engineers from 1938 to 1959. As a Corps officer, he held many important assignments throughout the world, including the positions of Deputy Division Engineer of the Lower Mississippi River Division and District Engineer of the Vicksburg District.
In 1961, Colonel Barschdorf was appointed as the first Port Director of the Greenville – Washington County Port Commission in Mississippi, a position in which he served with distinction until his retirement in September 1982. As Port Director, Colonel Barschdorf provided outstanding leadership in promoting waterway transportation as a vital asset in the economic growth and development of the Greenville area, the Mississippi Delta and the State of Mississippi.

While Port Director, Colonel Barschdorf founded Inland Rivers Ports & Terminals, Inc., as an organization to promote the healthy growth of inland rivers, ports and terminals. The organization was established to develop and improve services to shippers; aid development of a more efficient intermodal national transportation system; and encourage additional foreign and domestic commerce to and from all rivers, ports and terminals. He was IRPT’s first chairman and granted the title of Chairman Emeritus.

Honored in 1996.

Donald Bollinger was a considerable asset to economic growth along the Bayou Lafourche in Louisiana. He was born in Raceland, Louisiana, on April 19, 1915 to George “Bud” Bollinger and Etinette Daviet. He graduated from Lockport High School in 1932 at the height of the Depression, after which he attended business and banking courses at Nicholls State University. In his twenties, Mr. Bollinger started his promising business career working for Barker Barge Line where his father also worked.

Around 1900, Donald’s father, Bud, developed and patented a steam-powered steering system that was used widely in steamboats on America’s rivers for over seventy years. When steam gave way to diesel power, Donald converted it to a hydraulic system.

In 1946, he left Barker to start Bollinger Machine Shop & Shipyard on Bayou Lafourche. He was highly influential in America’s shallow-draft and deep-draft marine industry, and in the communities where his shipyards are located. He eventually expanded his business to include nine shipyards.

By any economic standard, the Bollinger operations’ growth from a single shipyard to one of the nation’s leading shipbuilding businesses is a monumental achievement; yet the contributions Mr. Bollinger made to his community, education, and his church are equally important. Donald Bollinger, who passed away in 2000, had the ability to gracefully ride the crests and troughs of the economy which is evident in his achievements and the waterways growth he inspired.

Honored in 1999.

Jesse Brent began his life on the river as a teenager, serving as a towboat deckhand, then pilot and engineer. He started on packet boats with his father on the Yazoo and Sunflower Rivers. He then worked for the Army Corps of Engineers on the Mississippi. Most of his life, he was a builder as well as an operator of towboats and other marine equipment.

In the 1940s he was one of the founders of the Greenville Towing Company. He bought a wooden hull boat for $800 and applied for a loan to equip the boat with engines, at a cost of $960. The salesman added a zero to the value of the wooden hull, making it $8,000, and his loan application was approved. Brent Towing Company was formed in 1956 with Jesse Brent as the president and chairman of the board.

Jesse Brent was a founding member, board member and officer of the American Waterways Operators and served as chairman of the board of the association in 1963. He also served as a board member for the National Waterways Conference for several years.

Jesse Brent died in 1982, and his two sons, Lea and Howard, and three grandsons, Jesse, Lincoln, and Collins, continued the business until it was sold to the Kirby Corporation of Houston.

Honored in 1986.

Rick Calhoun is President of Cargo Carriers, and senior vice president of grain and oilseed supply chain North America for Cargill Inc., Minneapolis, MN.

Cargill operates 1,300 barges in its United States fleet and moved over 90 commodities via barge last year. Cargill has two state-of-the-art export facilities in the Louisiana Gulf as well as over 30 grain elevators and barge loading facilities that move U.S. grains and oilseeds to market. It also plays a role in the transportation of a multitude of other commodities up-river such as coal and steel to support domestic energy production and U.S. manufacturing, fertilizer for family farmers and road salt for northern municipalities preparing for icy winters.

Rick was honored recently as the recipient of the prestigious River Bell Award by the Seaman’s Church Institute.

At a Dec. 12, 2014 luncheon ceremony in Paducah, Ky., attended by more than 400 leaders from the inland waterway, barge and towboat industry, Calhoun was recognized for his highly significant contributions to the maritime industry.  Calhoun in particular was cited for his leadership efforts in advocating passage of major waterways infrastructure legislation in Congress – which is expected to receive final approval in April – and efforts to maintain Mississippi River navigation during low-water episodes during the 2012 drought.

Calhoun has served as chairman of the NGFA’s Waterborne Commerce Committee.  Previously, he served with distinction as NGFA’s industry chairman from 2002-04 and from 1994-2002 as a member of NGFA’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee.  He also is past chairman of Waterways Council Inc., the barge and towboat industry’s premier national trade association and national public policy organization advocating a modern and well-maintained national system of ports and inland waterways.

Honored in 2016.

Scott Chotin was a pioneer river man, born in 1916. As a boy, he worked as often as he could on his father’s boat, the J.N. Pharr, including weekends, holidays, and summers.

After finishing school, he worked full time with his father on the boat. In a tragic accident in 1936, a tornado struck the J.N. Pharr near Paducah, Kentucky. The boat overturned and sank, and five crewmembers were killed in the tragedy.

Captain Chotin worked for the Standard Oil Company of Louisiana, now Exxon-Mobil, and later as steersman for the Federal Barge Line, on the Baton Rouge and the Cairo. He then worked for the American Barge Line on the Destrahan, later returning to work with his father. He eventually became president and chief executive officer of Chotin Transportation Company. When the company was sold in 1971, it had a fleet of 16 boats, having grown from one boat at its beginning.

Now chief executive of Scott Chotin Incorporated in New Orleans, he is a charter member of the American Waterways Operators and a member of the National Waterways Conference and the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association.

An innovator in development of piloting and navigation aids, Captain Chotin is a respected authority on towboat and barge design, having designed many of the boats for his own company. He is an expert in navigation affairs and considered by many to be the dean of active river veterans.

Honored in 1986.

John E. Connelly was the chairman and chief executive officer of J. Edward Connelly Associates in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His firm has controlling interests in hotel development, supermarket marketing services, a television studio, a marketing concepts firm for manufacturers and a bank marketing business. For pleasure, Mr. Connelly established a booming gaming riverboat enterprise.

His parents died when he as 16, and he began to support his sisters and brother by working various jobs and going to night school. He mined coal, dressed as Santa Claus at Christmas time, edited a newspaper in Sharpsbury, Pennsylvania, and eventually served as a congressional assistant in the nation’s capital. In the 1940s John Connelly learned marketing and advertising from Congressman Harry J. Davenport. He spent 25 years as treasure of the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority and helped clean up Pittsburgh’s rivers.

John Connelly began his excursion business with Captain Jack Goessling, turning a 65-foot Great Lakes fishing boat into their first excursion vessel. Then came a second, then a third christened the Good Ship Lollipop. This grew into the Gateway Clipper Fleet.

In 1991, John Connelly began his riverboat gambling operation with the President Riverboat Casino in Davenport, Iowa. His company has operated the President, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Beck Thatcher, and the Lt. Robert E. Lee riverboats serving various states throughout the country.

Honored in 1995.

As leader of the National Waterways Conference, Inc. for 38 years, Mr. Harry N. Cook has successfully advanced the interests of waterways proponents and generated extraordinary awareness of the inland waterways in the Government. He worked tirelessly to promote responsible investments and funding for the infrastructure that allows the entire waterways system – and the tens of thousands of jobs that depend upon it – to remain effective and viable.

Mr. Cook began his river career on the Tennessee – Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority, where he learned the fundamentals of waterborne transportation. He joined the National Waterways Conference in 1965. Guided and directed by a diverse and well-represented Board, Mr. Cook set forth to ensure that every waterway interest – port or terminal, inland or coastal, carrier or shipper – was represented by a single, unified organization.

Each year, as Congress considered funding for the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works programs, Mr. Cook worked to ensure that no unfair user charges, taxes or funding cuts would be placed on any segment of the industry.

Mr. Cook has also been dedicated to international waterways organizations, particularly International Navigation Association (PIANC), and he has received multiple awards and recognition from the Department of Defense.

Honored in 1998.

Born in 1891, Albert J. Dawson graduated from Webb Institute. In 1914 he was a draftsman and estimator at the Fore River Plant of Bethleham Shipbuilding Company. He became naval architect, and served as chief engineer with the Charles Ward Engineering Works before becoming chief engineer with Dravo Corporation.

In the 1920s the German Ministry of Transport instructed the owners of large canal tugs to install guards around propellers to reduce propeller wash and lessen erosion to the canals. A strange phenomenon resulted – the boats were faster and able to deliver much greater thrust. Ludwig Kort of Hanover, Germany, began to experiment with shapes and sizes of propeller guards and in 1930, obtained a United States patent for the Kort nozzle.

Albert Dawson and his assistant, Clancy J. Horton, went to Germany to investigate the design, and Dravo obtained exclusive rights to promote the nozzle in the United States, except the Pacific Coast states. Albert Dawson improved and refined Dr. Kort’s original design. He then had two small single-screw diesel towboats built, one with and one without the Kort nozzle. The towboat with the Kort nozzle had 25% more push power. The Kort nozzle was rapidly adopted by the towing industry. The number of towboats with the Kort nozzle went from 161 in the 1930s, to over 1,500 in the 1970s and 1980s.

Albert Dawson, who passed away in 1961, also worked on the design of the LST’s used for the invasion of Normandy during World War II. He served on the Control Committee for the book Design and Construction of Steel Merchant Ships, and was the author of several important papers published by the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.

Honored in 1988.

Neil N. Diehl began his career in 1956 working with U.S. Steel. He moved up through many positions and in 1974 he became Vice-President of Ohio Barge Line. The formative transportation experiences with both U.S. Steel and Ohio Barge Line whetted his interest in the national transportation policies related to America’s inland waterway system.

Mr. Diehl was a key builder of the public policies related to lock and dam modernization from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s. He served as Vice President and then President for Ohio Barge Line and Warrior and Gulf Navigation Company (both wholly-owned subsidiaries of U.S. Steel) from 1974 to 1984. From 1984 until 1995, he served as Chairman and CEO of Ingram Barge Company, one of the nation’s largest barge lines. Through these positions he helped frame industry debates and discussions about America’s inland navigation system.

Mr. Diehl was a founding member and later chairman of DINAMO, the Association for the Development of Inland Navigation in American’s Ohio Valley. DINAMO worked to bring together the private sector, state government, and labor leadership in the Ohio Valley states to expedite the modernization of the lock and dam infrastructure of the Ohio River which has fostered capital improvements of $5 billion on the Ohio River Navigation System.

Mr. Diehl was a charter member of the Inland Waterways Users Board and worked as a member of this federally mandated board from 1987 to 1992. He was an advocate of the “capacity utilization theory,” which was a useful tool for his industry to evaluate the appropriate level of cost sharing with respect to private sector funding of lock and dam modernization projects.

Honored in 1999.

For over forty years Wilbur Edgerton Dow, Jr., was president of the Lake George Steamboat Company. This was the oldest continuously operating passenger steamboat company in the world, dating back to 1817.

Born in 1906, Mr. Dow had many and varied accomplishments. For example, he led the only expedition to reach the magnetic north pole.

In 1972, the 66-year-old Mr. Dow started the New Orleans Steamboat Company, building the steamer Natchez at a time when most believed that a vessel of her size with steam propulsion would never be seen again.

The Natchez became one of the most treasured attractions for New Orleans and one of only a handful of steam powered riverboats operating in the inland waters of America. The company grew to include the Cotton Blossom and the m/v Jean Lafitte. Mr. Dow, who died in 1991, helped preserve a nearly bygone era for millions of people.

Honored in 1995.

Peter Fanchi, Jr. worked diligently to bring the benefits of inland water transportation to the American public and consumers. He served as president of Nilo Barge Lines, which was owned by Olin Corporation.

He then succeeded the legendary Captain A.C. (Connie) Ingersoll as president of Federal Barge Lines, then one of the major barge lines on the rivers. In 1958, Federal Barge Lines christened the United States, at 8,500 horsepower the largest and most powerful towboat on the waterways system.

While serving as Federal Barge Lines’ president, Mr. Fanchi was chairman of the executive committee of the Water Transport Association as well as trustee of the Ohio Valley Improvement Association and chair of the St. Louis Port Commission.

Mr. Fanchi is a diplomat for the river. He is a frequent speaker at symposiums on transportation, a volunteer at the Hermann T. Pott National Inland Waters Library at the Mercantile Library in St. Louis, and a representative of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, encouraging students to pursue a career in the river transportation industry.

Honored in 1992.

King Fisher grew up working in his father’s shrimping business, starting at the age of fourteen during the Great Depression. In 1934 when he was eighteen, Mr. Fisher converted a small shrimp boat into a towboat powered by a Buick engine and pushing one wooden barge. From this start, he and his wife, Jewel, built the largest dredging and marine construction business in Texas, providing employment for some 275 people.

Mr. Fisher’s father was also named King, because he shined shoes outside a tavern in San Antonio, Texas, where outlaws ambushed and killed a Texas Ranger named King Fisher. Always an innovator, he built his own 2,000-ton dry-dock out of salvaged material. Some said it would not work, but it made over 300 lifts.

King Fisher Marine Services was the major contractor for deepening and widening of the Victoria Barge Canal in Texas in the 1960s. Mr. Fisher donated the equipment and personnel to assist in the location and salvage of the explorer LaSalle’s ship, the Belle, recovering the cannon and many other artifacts, including the well preserved remains of a crew member.

Mr. Fisher developed the “walking spud” for dredges. This uniquely designed spud allows the dredge to position itself on one side of the channel and “walk” down the channel, making more headway and operating in a much more efficient manner. At his own expense, he restored 2,000 feet of beach at Port O’Connor, demonstrating the beneficial use of dredged material. The beach is now dedicated in his name. His greatest legacy, however, will be his work on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. He sailed its route before the canal was dug. He dug much of it himself, and he has been the major contractor to maintain it for 50 years.

Honored in 1998.

Captain Noble Gordon’s fifty-year river career spanned the twilight years of the steamboat and the beginning of the modern diesel towboat. He began as all steamboat people did, with an abiding love of the river.

At the age of 15 he left home at Paducah, Kentucky, with his parents’ permission, and traveled to New Orleans looking for a possible berth, which he found as a wiper on Standard Oil’s S. S. W. H. Libby. At 17, he was daylight man on the steamer Capitol of the Streckfus line. In his early years, Captain Gordon served on the Jane Rhea, the Steamer Annie I. Baker, the steamer Destrehan, the Sara McDonald and the Lucindina Clark.

He stood his first pilot’s watch on the Upper Mississippi River before the present lock and dam system was completed. Captain Gordon went on to pilot the Husky, the Minnesota Husky, the steamer Wood River, the E.B. Ingram, the Nelson Boradgoot and the Arthur Dyer. Captain Gordon was instrumental in the establishment of the Potter Company, the Mid American Transportation Company, Midsouth Towing Company and the Gulf Coast Transit Company, Power Transportation Company and Energy Transportation and the Electro-Coal Transfer Corporation.

Before his retirement, his companies were moving millions of tons of coal from the heartland of the U.S. to Florida and returning with phosphate rock fertilizer. His boats moved 45,000-ton tows regularly. Still, he is the Old Steamboat Captain, a rugged individualist who got the job done his way.

Honored in 1987.

George C. Grugett has been Executive Vice President of the Mississippi Valley Flood Control Association for the past twenty years.

Every year he testifies before Congressional leaders and advises Executive branch officials on flood control issues. He also advises state and local leaders throughout the Mississippi Valley on the development of flood control, navigation and environmental infrastructure projects.

Prior to joining the Mississippi Valley Flood Control Association in 1980, Mr. Grugett had a distinguished career spanning 35 years with the Memphis District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he served as the Chief of the Program Development Office and Executive Assistant to the District Engineer.

In this position he guided the expenditure of millions of dollars for flood control in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Mississippi. He has received many awards for his accomplishments, including the Department of the Army’s Meritorious Service Award and the Silver Order of the deFleury Medal by the Commander of the Corps of Engineers, for exceptional performance of duty.

Honored in 2000.

Robert A. Guthans, long time president of Midstream Fuel Service, Inc., Petroleum Energy Products, Co. and Tenn-Tom Towing Co., comes by his dedication to the river naturally. His father, Harold Guthans, was educated as a naval architect and designed towboats and equipment used on boats and barges, eventually becoming president of Warrior and Gulf Navigation Company and the Ohio Barge Line. Harold Guthans was Chairman of American Waterways Operators’ Southern Region in 1957, 27 years before his son held the same position.

Bobby Guthans graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1951 with a B.S. in chemistry and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army. He served in Korea during the Korean Conflict in the armor and chemical warfare branches.

After Army service, he returned to Mobile and went to work for Southern Industries Corporation where he eventually held the post of vice president, corporate development. In 1971 he became president of B-R Dredging Company, a worldwide dredging operation. In 1973 he became president of Midstream Fuel Service, Inc., Petroleum Energy Products Company and Tenn-Tom Towing Company.

Mr. Guthans has a long history of service to the inland waters of the United States. In 1984, he served as Chairman of the Southern Region of the American Waterways Operators and he was chairman of AWO in 1990. He was also a director and executive committee member for the Warrior-Tombigee Waterway Association and a member of the Navy League of Mobile and Propeller Club. He has also served as a trustee of the National Waterways Foundation, the State of Alabama Pilotage Commission, and the Alabama Water Resources Advisory Council.

Honored in 1996.

Mike Hagan has been a part of America’s waterways industry for over 30 years and served as the American Commercial Lines (ACL) chief executive officer from 1991 to 2003 and as executive vice president from 1989 to 1991.

Hagan also founded MARC 2000 (Midwest Area River Coalition), which focused on future navigational needs for the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. MARC 2000 helped build grass roots and Congressional support to ensure that the 2007 Water Resources Development Act passed, which provided authorization for navigation infrastructure improvements that were vital to Midwest agricultural businesses and farming communities along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

Hagan’s vision and strategic initiative turned ACL into a 5,000-barge barge line and consolidated the industry to bring about financial stability to a trade that had a supply surplus for almost 20 years. As he grew ACL’s domestic operation, Hagan also had an unequaled vision and passion to grow in the South American market. He was involved with ventures in Venezuela, Santo Domingo, Argentina, and other locations, which he helped to develop into successful operations.

Mike Hagan currently serves as a board director at Ultrapetrol Bahamas Limited. We continue to value his profound marketing and economics knowledge, and we honor him for his leadership and commitment to the barge industry.

Honored in 2008.

Gary LaGrange’s commitment to the maritime industry and inland waterways system is reflected in the numerous leadership positions he has held at state, regional, and national levels.

LaGrange has been chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities and vice- president of the National Waterways Council. In 2003 he was named Maritime Person of the Year. In his present position as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Port of New Orleans and in previous port positions, LaGrange has promoted the sustainable use of waterways, including our nation’s inland waterways system, as one method of easing traffic congestion and alleviating air pollution. One of LaGrange’s biggest accomplishments in his current position is that only a short time after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, his leadership brought the port back to one hundred percent performance.

LaGrange holds a B.A. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and an M.A. from the University of South Louisiana. He is very active in a number of waterways advocacy groups, including the National Waterways Council.

Honored in 2005.

J.W. (Jake) Hershey put together the largest commercial barge line in the world, American Commercial Barge Line, and was a leading organizer and promoter of a national transportation system.

He was born in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, and graduated from Yale University with a degree in applied economic science. From 1934 to 1939, he was an assistant to the vice president and assistant manager of the oil-purchasing department of Shell Oil Company. During 1940 and 1941, he was manager of oil purchases and sales for the Pan American Pipe Line Company. In 1942, he began working with a small barge line on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

Over the next three decades, Mr. Hershey enlarged and expanded the company until it became the world’s largest commercial barge line, American Commercial Barge Line (ACBL). He was chairman of the board of American Commercial Lines, Inc. and its predecessor companies until 1978. During his tenure, ACBL moved a wide variety of products on the nation’s waterways, even using triple-decker barges to transport automobiles.

Mr. Hershey, who died in 2000, was a visionary in the national transportation and distribution field and a long time advocate of a unified national transportation policy. He developed policy for the water industries and broadened the influence of the inland carriers. He appeared before Congress and the Interstate Commerce Commission and was instrumental in coordinating the efforts of the waterway carriers with the trucking and railroad industries.

Honored in 1991.

In 1891, fifteen year old Jesse P. Hughes signed on with the Steamer T.N. Barnsdale as a second cook and potato peeler. Since he spent his entire youth along the river, either at Wheeling, West Virginia, or Reas Run, Ohio, it was only natural that he would be drawn to boating. He worked his way up the ladder as cook, pantry man and cabin boy. Then, under the tutelage of Captain J. Mack Gamble on the Steamer Courier, he became a steersman.

In 1896, he signed on the steamer H.K. Bedford, which was owned by Captain Gordon C. Greene. This began a 55-year career with the Greene Line Steamers, Inc., where he was ultimately a master of several Greene line boats, chief navigating officer for the company, Vice President, and part owner.

In June 1897, Captain Hughes was issued his pilot’s license. Now, standing watch on his own, he piloted the Steamer Argand, the Greenwood, and the Steamer Cricket. For the next 14 years, Captain Hughes operated the Tacoma on the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers between Cincinnati and Charleston, West Virginia.

In 1922, Captain Hughes assisted in the planning of the Steamer Tom Greene, being involved in the design and construction of the boat and overseeing its construction. Following completion of the Tom Greene, he provided design input for the Chris Greene, even painting the 11’ x 3’ murals that hung over the front of each of the cabins.

Honored in 1997.

Charles T. Jones grew up on the banks of the Kanawha River. While attending Hun School, at Princeton, New Jersey, he spent many afternoons rowing with the Hun Crew on Lake Carnegie where he met Albert Einstein, who would observe his rowing each afternoon

He began employment with Star Coal and Coke Company and later with Amherst Coal Company. In 1951 Amherst purchased the Hatfield-Campbells Creek Coal Company, which owned a fleet of steamboats, barges and river terminals on the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers. Jones headed up the fleet under Amherst Barge Company, which continues today as AmherstMadison.

Amherst operated the last coal-fired steamboat in towing service on the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers, the Herbert E. Jones, named for his father, which was retired in 1960. The M/V Charles T. Jones operates on the Ohio River and tributaries today.

Jones joined the Ohio Valley Improvement Association (OVIA) in 1953 and was instrumental in its consolidation into the DINAMO group in 1982. He was appointed to the Inland Waterways Users Board, served as Chairman, and continues to serve as Chairman Emeritus on the board.

He has owned and operated his personal sternwheel towboat (Laura J) since 1956 and is the only captain who has participated in every Charleston Sternwheel Regatta since 1971. Today, his company operates the largest fleet of sternwheel towboats in the world and the oldest propeller driven inland river towboat in service.

Honored in 2001.

In 1973, Robert and Ruth Kehl purchased the 150-passenger sternwheeler River Rogue and began what was to become a long and successful partnership with the river.

In 1977 the couple launched the 325-passenger Spirit of Dubuque and added a private charter service and a highly popular prime rib dinner to their river cruises. In 1984 Captains Bob and Ruth Kehl launched the $2 million, 800-passenger Mississippi Belle featuring day long cruises
In that same year, the Iowa Travel Council selected the Belle as Iowa’s top tourist attraction. Despite a nation wide recession and poor economic times in Dubuque, the Kehls’ river business boomed.

By 1986 the Kehls expanded their reach even further by christening the Mississippi Belle II and by moving the original Belle to the Quad Cities to begin excursion service to that area as well.
In 1991, the Kehls were among the first in the nation to operate a gaming boat, the Dubuque Casino Belle, bringing national and international attention to Iowa. The Kehls’ business continued to bloom, and they moved from operating riverboats to building riverboats.

In 1986, the Kehls received the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Persons of the Year award. This national award credited the Kehls with “reviving the economy of northeast Iowa” and recognized the personal risk of expanding their business in a period of economic difficulty in the Midwest.

In addition, the Kehls have been friends and advisors to the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium and the National Rivers Hall of Fame, donating a major building to the museum when it was first established in 1978.

Honored in 1995.

J. Edwin Kyle, Jr., was born on Columbus Day in New Iberia, Louisiana. He attended Sewanee Military Academy, Tulane University and Louisiana State University.

Mr. Kyle served with distinction in the United States Navy during World War II and, later as Vice-President and General Manager of Kyle-Taylor Lumber Company, a family-owned business which serviced the oilfield industry with drilling mud, pipe storage, trucks, cranes, and labor services. He was also a founder and the first President and Chairman of the Board of Tidewater Marine, Inc. whose direct successor is Tidewater, Inc., the largest service boat company in the world.

Mr. Kyle is recognized nationally and regionally for his accomplishments in securing major partnerships between the business community, state government, the Corps of Engineers and various Congressional Committees associated with funding water resource development. He has been instrumental in conveying the ideas and needs of the maritime business community and the general safety of the public. He has fostered close working relationships among the Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, and local industry on a variety of river and port issues.

In 1997, Mr. Kyle was presented with the prestigious Silver Order of the deFleury Medal for Inspirational Leadership in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and for unwavering support of the Corps missions in the state of Louisiana and throughout the Mississippi Valley from 1967 to present. Mr. Kyle was the first civilian to receive the honor in the 200-year history of the deFleury award.

Honored in 2000.

Founded in 1933, Canal Barge Company Inc. has grown exponentially from its early days of operating a single barge along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, maturing as an integral partner in the New Orleans business base. The company owns and operates a fleet of more than 800 barges that transport valuable liquid, dry and deck cargoes up and down the river to destinations in North America, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and even across the Atlantic Ocean.


Merritt Lane III, President and CEO of Canal Barge Company since 1994, believes that strong, family-like relationships feed both company and industry success. “Solid relationships within the industry exemplify the best in teamwork,” he says. Lane has spent much of his tenure fostering deep ties with maritime businesses and organizations locally, regionally and nationally. “I have great respect for all of the moving parts in the industry, including our professional mariners and all of the good people who support our operations from the shore, 24-7-365.”


The President and CEO also focuses heavily on mariner training initiatives, investing significant funding in each newly hired employee to provide them the opportunity to become a licensed mariner. “We hire for attitude and train for skill,” he says. “The result is a strong foundation of ready, loyal and supportive employees and operators.” Once certified, mariners can be hired anywhere—so the retention of employees is a particular point of pride for the team at Canal Barge.


Additionally, Lane nurtures the rapport Canal Barge has with the New Orleans community. As a member of the executive committee of the New Orleans Business Council, he is actively involved in flood protection initiatives for the city, and was the first chairman of the board of The Idea Village, an organization devoted to driving a culture of entrepreneurship in New Orleans. “We genuinely care about the community and contributing to its ecosystem,” he says. “After all, the community is the foundation for the future of New Orleans.”


Lane was named 2009 Maritime Person of the Year by the Propeller Club.  Lane serves as Immediate Past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Waterways Operators, as a vice chairman of the Waterways Council, Inc., and as a board member of the National Waterways Foundation and the U.S. Coast Guard Foundation.


Honored in 2016.

Captain Leyhe was born in 1873, 12 years after his father and uncle founded the Eagle Packet Company with the Young Eagle at Warsaw, Illinois in 1861. At an early age he decided that his career was to be a river man, and became a licensed Master at the age of 22. His youthful nickname stayed with him and he was known the rest of his life as Captain Buck.

The company expanded by building and operating many boats, including the Grey Eagle, Spread Eagle, Bald Eagle, War Eagle, and Golden Eagle. During the great flood of 1903 the Eagle Packet Company was recruited to move mail, passengers and freight between Alton, Illinois, and St. Louis, keeping St. Louis in touch with the outside world. He developed excursion business for the Company during the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904, running daily trips between Alton and St. Louis, Missouri.

Despite the tragic loss by ice gorges of four packet boats in 1917-1918, Captain Buck and his brother Henry bought a New Orleans cotton boat, renamed it the Golden Eagle and continued in the river trade. Recognizing in the late 1920s that the freight business was doomed, Captain Buck decided to concentrate on the passenger business.

Captain Buck loved planning cruises for the public, including a special trip from St. Louis to St. Paul in June 1939. Other notable excursions that received nationwide attention were Chattanooga on the Tennessee River to Nashville, on the Cumberland River, and to the Shiloh Civil War Battlefield on the Tennessee.

Captain Buck passed away in 1956 at the age of 83. He was pleased to live to see that the Eagle was kept flying under the name of Eagle Marine Industries, Inc. run by members of his family and carrying on the tradition of the river he loved and respected.

Honored in 1987.

Born in 1920, F.A. “Bud” Mechling is the son of Arthur Leroy Mechling, who pioneered barge transportation on the Illinois waterways.

Mr. Mechling began his career with the barge line in 1937 and worked the company towboats until 1939 when he assumed shore duties. He later served as Executive Vice-President of A.L. Mechling Barge Line, Inc., of Joliet, which he and his brothers built into one of the major barge lines in the country before its consolidation with the Union Barge Corporation in 1973.

He served as Executive Vice-President and President of the Union Mechling Corporation until 1976. In 1978 he retired as Chairman of the board. The barge line was renamed in 1980, and later became the Dravo Mechling Corporation.

Mr. Mechling is an acknowledged and effective spokesman for the barge industry. He has served as President and Chairman of the American Waterways Operators and President and Chairman of the board of the Water Resources Congress. Since retirement he has served as a marine consultant to the Dravo Corporation on assignments to study and advise the Peoples Republic of China on the introduction of Mississippi River-type boat and barge technology on the Yangtze River system.

Honored in 1986.

Lt. General Morris was born in Princess Anne, Maryland in 1921. He graduated from West Point in 1943 and went on to become Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a position in which he was responsible for maintaining and improving the nation’s largest public works program, flood control, hydropower, navigation, recreation, water supply, beach erosion control, and fish and wildlife.

Lt. General Morris was instrumental in obtaining Congressional funding for the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway, as well as replacement of Locks and Dam 26 at Alton, Illinois, and key locks on the Ohio River, and completion of the Columbia River and Arkansas-White River navigation systems.

General Morris has advised the Peoples Republic of China and is now head of the National Waterways Foundation, working to develop Waterways Transportation Information Service. He has served as vice-chairman of the Water Resources Congress and board member of the National Waterways Conference.

He won Construction Man of the Year Award in 1977 from the Engineering News Record and the bicentennial national award for the Sgt. Floyd vessel exhibition in St. Louis. He was the first international vice-president of the Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses, comprised of over 50 nations, and has consulted widely with scores of foreign countries on water resources and dams.

Honored in 1987.

Herman Theodore Pott was born on June 14, 1895, in Sheyboygan, Wisconsin, and graduated in 1916 as a Civil Engineer at the University of Wisconsin. After working a short time as a surveyor, he took a job with the Dravo Corporation in Pittsburgh. He transferred to the Dravo Shipyard as chief estimator and soon advanced to assistant General Manager.

In the heart of the depression, 1933, Mr. Pott purchased the Phillip A. Rohan Boiler & Tank Co., changing its name to the St. Louis Shipbuilding and Steel Co. This was the beginning of Pott Industries, Inc.

During World War II, Mr. Pott was approached by the U.S. Navy to construct 40 tank carriers for the government. To handle the $40 million job, a separate company called Missouri Shipbuilding Corp. was organized as a St. Louis Ship subsidiary. In 1947, St. Louis Ship saved the last authentic Mississippi River showboat, the Goldenrod, by replacing its wooden hull with a steel hull. In 1953, Mr. Pott took over the Federal Barge Lines from the U.S. government. This company acquired Gulf-Canal Lines in 1959 and continued its record of engineering “firsts” as the number of boats and barges it built tallied in the hundreds. In 1960, St. Louis Ship launched the world’s most powerful towboat, the America.

Mr. Pott was a Director for the American Bureau of Shipbuilding and served on the Executive Committee of the Mississippi Valley Association. He was an organizer and the first President of the St. Louis Propeller Club and also a member of the Society of Navel Architects and Marine Engineers. On April 15, 1973, Pott Industries, Inc., saluted its Founder and Chairman with the launching of the M.V. Herman Pott.

Honored in 1987.

The National Rivers Hall of Fame presented the National Achievement Award to Craig Philip at the Seamen’s Church Institute’s 14th Annual River Bell Awards luncheon on Dec.12, 2013. The National Rivers Hall of Fame Award celebrates Philip’s work fostering the economy and stewardship of the nation’s inland waterways and recognizes his significant contributions to the rivers of America.

For 30 years, Craig Philip has affected the marine, rail, and intermodal industries through his various professional and senior management positions. He first came to Ingram Barge Company, one of the largest domestic marine businesses, in 1982 and served in various capacities until 1987. He rejoined the company in 1991 from Southern Pacific Railroad, where he was Vice President of their Intermodal Division. He was named President of Ingram Barge Company in 1994 and Chief Executive Officer in 1999. Ingram now operates nearly 5,000 barges transporting coal, grain, aggregates, fertilizer, ores, alloys, steel products and chemicals. Their towboats travel the nation’s waters on the Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Kanawha, Illinois and the Monongahela rivers.

Philip’s dedication to this essential part of the nation’s economy goes beyond his professional career. He is actively involved in industry and professional organizations. In particular, he has served as Chairman of both the National Waterways Conference and the American Waterways Operators. While with AWO, Philip was the driving force behind the towing industry’s partnership with the US Coast Guard which led to drastically improved safety and public image. He also supports mariners through service on the Boards of Arkansas Best Corporation, the Coast Guard Foundation, the National Waterways Foundation, and The Seamen’s Church Institute. Philip was instrumental in having The Seamen’s Church Institute establish the Center for Maritime Education, the premier training facility for inland mariners in the country.

Honored in 2013.

B.E.M. (Ben) Skerrett, III of Lafayette, Louisiana, is known for his leadership in preserving the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest riverine overflow swamp in the United States. Mr. Skerrett has been a strong, effective advocate of aquatic habitat conservation and improved water quality management in the Atchafalaya Basin for over three decades.

Currently, Mr. Skerrett is directing his efforts to restoring the fresh water flow in Buffalo Cove, one of the most scenic and productive areas in the Atchafalaya Basin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources have joined in this effort.

Mr. Skerrett serves as chairman of the water management committee of the Atchafalaya Basin Advisory Board, and for years has been the chairman of the Acadiana Waterways Committee.

Recently, the Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District, recognized Mr. Skerrett’s contributions by presenting him with its Commander Award for Civilian Service. The accompanying citation reads in part, “He has consistently demonstrated an exemplary blend of determination and diplomacy while building support with key agencies, elected officials, sport and commercial fishing interests, business leaders, civic groups, and conservation organizations . . . Mr. Skerrett has been the undisputed champion in the effort to save the Atchafalaya Basin.”

Honored in 2000.

Captain John Streckfus, of Rock Island, Illinois, brought the river excursion business to its ultimate perfection. He began with the Freddie about 1891, operating her in the Davenport, Iowa, area. The steamers Verne Swain and the W.W. followed, the latter named for his friend and partner, Capt. D. Walter Wisherd.

In 1901 Captain Streckfus commissioned a new boat from the Howard Shipyard, Jeffersonville, Indiana, which he named the J.S.; she was to operate as the morning packet between Davenport and Clinton, Iowa, and to also run “moonlights” out of Davenport and Rock Island. However, the J.S. was too heavy to run the rapids every day and she was withdrawn from the packet trade to become exclusively an excursion boat. She was a success and Captain John Streckfus was on his way to becoming the “excursion king” of the upper Mississippi.

In 1911 Captain Streckfus acquired the Diamond Jo Lines boats and, after operating them a while in the packet and overnight passenger trade, he turned them into excursion boats, forming the largest fleet of such excursion boats on the western rivers. The Quincy became the second J.S.; the Dubuque became the Capitol; the Sidney became the Washington; and the Saint Paul kept her name. There were no bars on the early Streckfus boats. However, the Streckfus Line was also known for good music, and many musicians who played on their boats became famous.
The Diamond Jo Line boats were built of wood, and safety regulations eventually caused their demise. They were replaced by the President, and later by the streamlined Admiral. Captain John Streckfus died in 1925, but his legacy in excursion boating was to be carried on by his sons, Joseph, John, Roy and Verne.

Honored in 1987.

H.K. Thatcher was born in 1891 in a sod house on a tributary of the Arkansas River near McCracken, Kansas. He grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, on the banks of the Mississippi River. At the University of Missouri, he excelled in sports, competing against the great Jim Thorpe and was named to the 1912 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team as a discus thrower.

Mr. Thatcher worked most of his life in agriculture and became director of the Arkansas Agricultural and Industrial Commissioner. He assisted the then Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover in the flood rehabilitation work in the White and Cache River valleys.

In 1950, at age 60, Mr. Thatcher became executive vice-president of the Ouachita River Valley Association and began a commitment to the nine-foot navigation project for that river. This was his most dramatic challenge, and the project took the next 30 years. The $252 million project included the building of four dams, two in Louisiana and two in Arkansas.

Before he died in 1985, H.K. Thatcher also worked to create a 65,000-acre national wildlife refuge in the Felsenthal basin in the Ouachita River Valley, with an additional 12,000-acre refuge along the navigation channel in Louisiana.

Honored in 1987.

Captain Fred Way, Jr., spent his life on the river gathering history and steamboat photographs, presiding over the Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen, piloting steamboats including the Delta Queen and the Betsy Ann, and writing numerous river books and steamboat directories.

In 1925, Captain Way bought his first packet, the Betsy Ann. By 1933, Way had put his experiences hauling people and produce into a book, The Log of the Betsy Ann.

In 1939, he began the Steamboat Photo Company, gathering the largest collection of steamboat photos then known. He formed the Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen, the beginning of the River Museum at Marietta. In 1942, he published the first of his steam towboat directories. He edited the Inland River Record, and the S & D Reflector, and in 1983 released Way’s Packet Directory, containing over 5,900 entries.

In 1947, Captain Way gained fame for supervising the 5,000-mile journey of the Delta Queen from San Francisco to Pittsburgh to begin inland river steaming.

Honored in 1987.

Born at Daytona, Florida on August 1, 1917, David A. Wright attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a B.S. degree in Marine Transportation.

Following his graduation from M.I.T. in 1938, he worked for Standard Oil of New Jersey’s marine department. During World War II, he served for five years in the United States Navy, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

Upon the death of his father in 1946, Mr. Wright became vice-president of Lake Tankers Inc., the forerunner of National Marine Service Incorporated. He was named company president in 1947, and later served as chairman of the Waterways Bulk Transportation Council.

In 1966, Mr. Wright moved the company headquarters from New York to St. Louis, and later was appointed Chairman of the Board in 1976. At the time of the National Marine merger with NICOR, the company’s fleet consisted of nineteen towboats. Wright retired in 1984. A devoted advocate of waterways development and an industry spokesman, Mr. Wright, who died in 2002, was a past Director of the National Waterways Foundation.

Honored in 1987.

William “Norb” Whitlock has been a leader in the river industry for 40 years. His service on the Inland Waterways Users Board has led to improvements of the entire inland system, particularly the Ohio, Mississippi, and Gulf Intracoastal waterways. He has contributed to both infrastructure improvements and safety improvements through industry and government partnerships. A major achievement was the design of the “temporary” lock expansion to Lock and Dam 52, which is still in operation 37 years later, passing 90 million tons of freight annually.

Whitlock was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1941 and began his career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as chief of operations for the Louisville District. He attended the University of Louisville, graduating in 1964 with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering.

Whitlock has been a driving force in establishing this nation’s river navigation policy for more than three decades. During his tenure, he has received numerous awards for service to the industry, including the Department of the Army’s Outstanding Citizen Service Medal in 2001 and the Coast Guard’s Meritorious Public Service Medal in 2003.

Whitlock is currently executive vice-president for governmental affairs with American Commercial Lines. He has been an invaluable asset to the inland waterways industry and established American Commercial Lines as a leading river transportation company.

Honored in 2007.