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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 Builders

Charles Ward

Inducted in 2007

Ward and the Ward Engineering Company are the progenitors of the modern diesel propeller towboat. They did more with propellers and tunnel sterns than any other inland boat builder.

Charles Ward was born in Southam, England in 1841. He was employed by the Leamington Gas Company and the Liverpool Gas Company and became the manager of a large metal works at Liverpool.

Ward migrated to Charleston, West Virginia in 1871. Ward helped to establish Charleston’s first gas works and founded the Charles Ward Engineering Works, one of the leading enterprises in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia that operated until 1931. The firm became a leading proponent and producer of water tube boilers and, in 1903, built the first twin-screw tunnel stern towboat in America, the steam-powered James Rumsey. Later the firm built a number of landmark vessels, including the first suction dredge with diesel-powered pumps, the C.B. Harris, and the first diesel-powered twin-screw towboat, the George T. Price.

Ward introduced the European water-tube boiler, which delivered higher steam pressures than the Scotch boiler, then commonly used on the rivers of the United States. Ward became one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of the new boilers.

Another of Ward’s accomplishments was successfully building river vessels, including the Mascot, an inspection boat for the United States Engineering Corps. He also built the James Rumsey, a prototype for boats still used today, in addition to dredges, car ferries, and other inland river craft. Ward also contributed to a limited number of ocean craft. His boats and boilers were widely used on American rivers, in both government and private sectors.