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 1990
For over two decades, Ralph DuPae assembled a collection of historic steamboat photographs. With the help of his employer, Northern Engraving, who underwrote the cost of travel, Mr. DuPae initiated a cross-country search for historic steamboat photographs. He thought he might collect 5,000 images. And with the help of river people from across the country, he reached his goal.
But he kept collecting. Soon he had collected 10,000 photos, then 15,000, then 20,000. Collectors and historians kept finding more pictures of steamboats, rafting boats, river towns and other views.
Thanks largely to Ralph DuPae’s efforts, the people of America have a collection of over 45,000 steamboat images and another 11,000 images of rafting scenes, town views and bridges. This collection is one of the most important resources of steamboat history in America.
These photographs have been used in exhibits across the country and appear regularly in publications such as the “Waterways Journal” and the “S and D Reflector.” The photographic collection is housed and preserved at the Murphy Library at the State University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.