River Discovery Center’s Photo exhibit to Commemorate the Bicentennial of the Steamboat

Julie Harris
(270) 575-9958

Two hundred years ago, the epic voyage of the New Orleans, the first steamboat to descend the Ohio and Mississippi River to New Orleans, changed American civilization.  This October marks the 200th anniversary of the New Orleans’s historic trip from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. 

To celebrate this steamboat bicentennial, the River Discovery Center will host an exhibit of steamboat photography covering the last 200 years.  Beginning with the New Orleans, the exhibit includes images from steamboats used during the Civil War all the way to modern day excursion boats like the Delta Queen. 

One of the noteworthy pieces included is the Sultana which was taking Union soldiers home after the Civil War. The boiler exploded and caused the largest maritime accident in history.  Another fascinating piece is the photo showing the Ohio River covered in massive chunks of ice.

Julie Harris, center executive director says “With this exhibit, we have tried to cover a long period of time with photos that represent steamboats storied history and their important contribution to the industrial revolution.  Many photos are not of steamboats themselves, but tell of a particular story that is important to understanding the importance of this era.  We have attempted to show the impact which steamboats have had in our history, which for many of our youth is lost to modern day transportation.”

Another important artifact from the steamboat era to be included in the exhibit is the steamboat bell from the steamboat, Clyde.  The bell was recently donated to the River Discovery Center from the Badger family in Grand Rivers.

The exhibit will open September 1st in the rear of the River Discovery Center, in the lobby of Maiden Alley Cinema.  It will run through October 22nd.  Entrance to the exhibit is included in admission to the center.