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.
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Inducted in 2005
Louis C. Hunter’s incomparable contribution to river history was his classic book Steamboats on the Western Rivers.
Hunter’s book, published in 1949, is remarkable for its incisive view of the economic and technological aspects of steamboating. It is considered by those who have read it to be the bible of all river books. No one prior to Professor Hunter has had the fortitude and scholarly capacity to gather together the multitude of individual data regarding technology, operation, and governmental intervention as it pertained to the development of steamboating.
With all the technical jargon, Hunter managed to make the subject of steamboating interesting and readable. His use of footnotes is prodigious and of great use to the river historian. His Steamboats on the Western Rivers has been used as reference by practically all other river authors for its accuracy and clarity.
Hunter’s three-volume History of Industrial Power in the United States: 1780-1930, which took 30 years to complete, is also considered a master work, in the field of the history of technology.
Born in Wellsburg, Virginia, Hunter graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, received his master’s degree from Harvard in 1922 and his Doctoral degree from there in 1928. Dr. Hunter joined the faculty of American University, Washington, DC in 1937, where he taught until his retirement in 1966. Dr. Hunter’s Studies in Economic History: The Ohio Valley is an account of the growth of early iron industry.
Hunter’s Steamboats on the Western Rivers remains the definitive study of steamboating and the standard by which any serious work on river history must be judged.