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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 Artists, Writers, and Musicians

Stephen Collins Foster

Inducted in 1990

Stephen Collins Foster is considered the first truly American composer and his nostalgic melodies written during the pre-Civil War period have come to symbolize the golden age of steamboating. His minstrel songs, including the Glendy Burk, were influenced by the black roustabouts he heard on the Ohio River while working as a clerk for a Cincinnati steamboat agent.

My Old Kentucky Home, one of Foster’s most famous plantation airs, was composed after he and his wife took a month long trip to New Orleans on board a steamboat captained by his brother. Although Stephen Foster did not achieve recognition during his life time, his works such as Old Folks at Home, also known as Swanee River, and Oh! Susannah have influenced generations of composers and have become an intricate part of American heritage.