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 1991
J.W. (Jake) Hershey put together the largest commercial barge line in the world, American Commercial Barge Line, and was a leading organizer and promoter of a national transportation system.
He was born in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, and graduated from Yale University with a degree in applied economic science. From 1934 to 1939, he was an assistant to the vice president and assistant manager of the oil-purchasing department of Shell Oil Company. During 1940 and 1941, he was manager of oil purchases and sales for the Pan American Pipe Line Company. In 1942, he began working with a small barge line on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Over the next three decades, Mr. Hershey enlarged and expanded the company until it became the world’s largest commercial barge line, American Commercial Barge Line (ACBL). He was chairman of the board of American Commercial Lines, Inc. and its predecessor companies until 1978. During his tenure, ACBL moved a wide variety of products on the nation’s waterways, even using triple-decker barges to transport automobiles.
Mr. Hershey, who died in 2000, was a visionary in the national transportation and distribution field and a long time advocate of a unified national transportation policy. He developed policy for the water industries and broadened the influence of the inland carriers. He appeared before Congress and the Interstate Commerce Commission and was instrumental in coordinating the efforts of the waterway carriers with the trucking and railroad industries.