Ship Model, Steamboat Buckeye State

The Buckeye State was built at Shousetown, Pa., south of Pittsburgh. In 1849 the hull was completed and hauled up the Ohio River to Pittsburgh to be finished. Under the supervision of David Holmes, the Buckeye State was completed in February 1850. It was owned and operated by the Pittsburgh & Cincinnati Packet Line, which ran it regularly on the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The company owned six or seven steamers at a time, and ran daily departures between the two cities. By the mid-1840s the Pittsburgh & Cincinnati Packet Line was praised by a Pittsburgh newspaper editor as “the greatest convenience . . . ever afforded the citizens on the banks of the Upper Ohio.”
On May 1, 1850 the Buckeye State left Cincinnati for Pittsburgh and completed the trip in a record 43 hours. Under Capt. Sam Dean, the steamer made 24 stops along the route, needing coal once and wood three times. One hundred years later, the Buckeye State still held the record for the fastest trip ever made by a steamboat between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
In 1851, showman P. T. Barnum organized a race between the Buckeye State and the Messenger No. 2 as a publicity stunt to advertise Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind’s American tour. Steamboat racing was growing in popularity, and so a race was the perfect promotion. Although Lind and Barnum were aboard the Messenger No. 2, the Buckeye State won the race. The Buckeye State continued its service up and down the Ohio for six more years until it was retired and dismantled in 1857.
Object Name
model, river boat
date made
construction completed on Buckeye State
Buckeye State retired
participated in a steamboat race
owned and operated by
Pittsburgh & Cincinnati Packet Line
supervised construction of Buckeye State
Holmes, David
captain of the Buckeye State
Dean, Sam
Boucher-Lewis Precision Models, Inc.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metals (overall material)
overall: 21 in x 66 in x 16 in; 53.34 cm x 167.64 cm x 40.64 cm
United States: New York, New York
where the Buckeye State was built
United States: Pennsylvania
ship sailed on
United States: Ohio River
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Industry & Manufacturing
On the Water exhibit
Expansion and Reform
Civil War and Reconstruction
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
On the Water exhibit
On the Water
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Publication title
On the Water online exhibition
Publication URL

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