A Visit to the Howard Steamboat Museum
Steamboat History on the Ohio
© 2008 Patrick Matthews
Jeffersonville, Indiana is on the Ohio directly across from Louisville, and is home to the Howard Steamboat Museum. The museum is housed in the 1894 Howard mansion, which is worth a visit for its architectural interest alone. Even after floods and fire, the old home is in great shape and is loaded with original furnishings and décor. Much of the ornate woodwork inside was crafted by workers from the Howard steamboat yard, just across Market Street and directly on the river.
James Howard started the yard at Jeffersonville in 1834. Three generations of Howards would go on to build over 3000 vessels at the yard, including many of the finest steamboats to ply the American rivers. The US Navy took over operations at the yard in 1941, constructing numerous sub-chasers, LSTs, and other craft at what was and still is the largest inland shipyard in the country. The yard remains busy today, and visitors to the mansion can hear the clanging of steel plates as Jeffboat Inc. continues to construct modern river craft.
The museum’s collection includes numerous photographs, memorabilia, tools, paintings, and of course, steamboat models. The steamboats run the full range from folk art to fine scale models. The queen of the collection is a 1:48 scale model of the Howard-built Indiana by Eugene Salika of Illinois. The model includes several R/C functions and many interior details which can be seen through opening doors and cut-away sections. Mr. Salika’s model won multiple Golds in shows in the US, Canada and England in 1986-88.
The Howard Steamboat museum is open year-round, Tuesday through Sunday until 4pm, but do check with them before your visit. There is a modest fee, but you will be treated to a delightful tour of the mansion and exhibits, after which you may roam to revisit items of special interest. After your visit, have a meal at one of the riverside restaurants just down the street. With luck, you’ll be treated to the spectacle of a fifteen-barge tow pounding its way up the river!
Howard Steamboat Museum
1101 E. Market Street
Jeffersonville, IN 47130
Map to Howard Steamboat Museum
Museum at (A)… Jeffboat immediately south on the river bank, and Louisville across the river from it all.
Sons & Daughters
Interested in keeping up with steamboat history and preservation? Like to read personal remembrances of life on the rivers? Join the Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen and receive the quarterly journal, the S&D Reflector; back issues and indexes are available. Information on the Web at: www.s-and-d.org, or by mail at:
Richard H. Prater
602 Country Club Ave.
Ft. Walton Beach, FL 32547-1728
Images from the Museum