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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

Ellsworth Eugene Eisenbarth and Julia Henderson

Inducted in 2020

Ellsworth Eugene Eisenbarth and Julia Henderson were best known for the Eisenbarth-Henderson Floating Theatre, one of the most significant showboats in American history. Eisenbarth was born in 1864, in Ironton, Ohio, and later moved to Wetzel County, WV.

By 1889, Eisenbarth was traveling the mid-Atlantic states in “The Oregon Indian Medicine Show.” He bought a floating store, which he refitted as a showboat and christened “The Eisenbarth Wild West & Floating Opera,” which operated from 1891 to 1895.

Eisenbarth met Julia Henderson near the turn of the century while his floating opera was on tour. A year later they were married. Henderson did not approve of the shows and vaudeville, agreeing instead to furnish money for a first-class showboat providing performances such as Shakespeare’s plays.

In February of 1900, Eisenbarth and Henderson converted a glass barge into the Eisenbarth-Henderson Floating Theatre, Temple of Amusement. Sadly, the steamer Sprague mistakenly rammed the floating theatre through an error in signals, cutting the showboat in two. A second, grander showboat seating 900 was built in 1903 and named The New Great Modern Temple of Amusement. It plied the Mississippi and Ohio River systems.

The National River’s Hall of Fame inducts Eisenbarth and Henderson for their contributions to arts and culture along the rivers of America.