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National Rivers Hall of Fame Inductees

Hall of Fame inductees are the pioneers, explorers and artists in America's river history. They were movers and shakers from the days gone by and the recent past. These men and women made significant contributions related to America’s rivers, which is why we honor them.


The River People

Captain Thomas P. Leathers

Inducted in 1990

Captain Thomas P. Leathers, a native of Kentucky, began his river career on the Yazoo river in 1836. He had great financial success in the lower river cotton trade and built many steamboats, among them seven named NatchezThe Natchez (VI) made 401 trips without accident in the New Orleans to Vicksburg trade route – an great accomplishment in an era with little or no safety regulations.

In 1870 as owner of the Natchez, Captain Leathers participated in what was to become the most legendary steamboat race in history, pitting his Natchez against Captain Cannon and the Rob’t. E. Lee.

A shrewd, conservative businessman, Captain Leathers was known for his flamboyant appearance and personality. He was a staunch supporter of the Confederacy and is said to have defiantly flown the “Stars and Bars” on his boats for many years after the Civil War.

Captain Leathers died in New Orleans at the age of 80 after tragically having been run over by a bicyclist, thus ending one of the most successful careers in steamboat history.