Inducted in 1997
Most river aficionados recognize E. W. Gould as a 19th century river historian, but few realize that he had an active river career as well. In 1848 Gould was one of the five organizers of the Naples Packet Co., and he supervised the Post Boyís construction in 1859. In 1853 he advocated iron hulls for boats, preceding both William Hopkins and James Eads.
Captain Gould became a president of the Atlantic and Mississippi Steamship Company in its latter days and later was president of the Western River Improvement and Wrecking Co., an operation formerly owned by Eads and Nelson. During 1865-66 he was president of the St. Louis and Miami Packet Company.
Gould astutely realized the potential of towboating and urged its use throughout the 1870s and 1880s. He pushed for moving grain south from St. Louis to New Orleans with towboats and model barges in the 1880s which gradually became a thriving trade. He urged the use of barges on the Missouri and then, in 1886, became president of the Missouri River Packet Co.
Gould waged a one-man battle against various city officials who charged excessive, unfair, and unnecessary wharfage fees, writing letters to newspapers and relentlessly promoting river improvements. He was one of the first members of the National Board of Steam Navigation when it was formed in 1871, and he continually fought for equal recognition of the inland rivers.
E.W. Gouldís Fifty Years on the Mississippi, published in 1889, was a monumental study. Captain Gould had seen the Robert E. Lee, Natchez (VI), J.M. White, Ed. Richardson, John W. Cannon, and the Natchez (VII), and he recognized the steamboat’s singular role in our countryís development. Gould gave river history its metaphysics and caused it to evolve from poorly kept chronologies to legitimate history. He wrote to numerous aging river men to obtain biographies and memories and compiled extensive lists of 19th century steamboats. Gouldís History has not yet been equalled by any other historian, and it forms a sound historical foundation to which any subsequent river and steamboat historian must inevitably first turn.