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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

James Howard

Inducted in 1989

James Howard and the Howard Family were the most successful steamboat builders in American history, constructing such classic vessels as the John W. Cannon and the J. M. White (Ill.).

James Howard built his first hull at the age of 19 and established his boatyard in Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1834. He and his brother Daniel began building complete boats in the 1850’s, supplying boats for all aspects of the burgeoning steamboat age. Their fame became legendary, and by 1890, half of the steamboats on the western rivers were built by the Howards.

The Howard boatyard operated until 1940, when it was taken over by the U. S. Navy, and later became Jeffboat. From the Hyperion in 1834 to the Frank Costanzo in 1940, 550 Howard vessels were launched onto the inland waters of America, and the name of James Howard was forever etched into American river history.