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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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.