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 1987
Ruth Ferris taught younger generations what the rivers mean to the nation and introduced hundreds of young students the St. Louis Community School to the wonders of the rivers and steam navigation.
One of her greatest achievements was the preservation of the pilothouse of the steamer Golden Eagle. This last St. Louis steamer sank at Grand Tower Towhead early in the morning of May 18, 1947. The pilothouse was trucked to the Community School where it became a famous attraction for many years, giving students a look at a real steamboat relic.
When Miss Ferris retired from the school, she became curator of river material at the Missouri Historical Society, and the pilothouse was brought there as focal point of the River Room. Miss Ferris then set up a river museum on the former U.S. Engineers’ steamer Becky Thatcher, where she continued to impress visitors with the history and importance of the river.
Miss Ferris, who died in 1993, preserved many papers and pictures of the rivers’ past and inspired a profound interest in the rivers in many, including Grammy-winning musician John Hartford, who wrote a song about her.