The National Rivers Hall of Fame honored the late Nelson Jones with the National Achievement Award, presenting it to his father Charlie Jones on behalf of his son at Amherst Madison Company in Charleston, West Virginia on October 5, 2018. The National Rivers Hall of Fame Award celebrates Nelson Jones’ dedication to the river industry through his work at Amherst Madison as well as his passion for preserving inland river history.
Jones’ began spending time at Port Amherst and steering his father’s personal sternwheeler M/V Laura J. at an early age. When he was 12, Jones suggested to a neighbor he would like to put together a sternwheel regatta. He approached the Mayor of Charleston, West Virginia, about the idea and the first Charleston Sternwheel Regatta was created.
After receiving his business and economics degree at Morris Harvey College, now the University of Charleston, Jones was put in charge of what is now Amherst Madison, a marine transportation, construction, and repair company in Port Amherst. His leadership led the company to significant success in the river industry.
His affection for boats continued throughout his life and inspired him to add to his fleet of towboats as well as restore older boats, specifically sternwheelers. The Charleston Sternwheel Regatta grew and continued for over 30 years until the early 2000s.
Along with his love of the river, Jones was passionate for inland river history. He and his company gave generously to Point Pleasant Museum and the Ohio River Museum as well as restoration and stabilization of the steam towboat W.P. Snyder, Jr., a National Historic Landmark and popular museum boat at Marietta, Ohio. Jones philanthropic spirit included his dedication to safety improvements at Marmet Lock and Dam on the Kanawha and contributions to an inland waterways program at Marshall University, to name a few.
“There are few who have inspired so many to preserve, promote, and protect inland waterways as Nelson Jones,” said John Bickel, Chair of the National Rivers Hall of Fame. “We are humbled to present this award posthumously to Nelson Jones and greatly appreciate his and his family’s efforts to preserve the culture and history of our inland waterways.”
Established in 1985 with 113 national advisors, the mission of the National Rivers Hall of Fame is to collect, preserve, and share the stories of the women and men who have had a significant impact on the rivers of America. The Hall of Fame is supported by members in 36 states and is part of the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa.