The National Achievement Award is the highest honor presented by the National Rivers Hall of Fame to those people who are making significant contributions to America’s waterways. The National Rivers Hall of Fame with members in 36 states is the only national museum telling the stories of the people of America’s rivers.
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Honored in 1994
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.