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 1988
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.