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 1995
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 through 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.