Model of Towboat Valley Belle


The sternwheel steamer Valley Belle was built as a packet boat at Harmar, Ohio, in 1883. It measured 127.4’ long by 22.9’ in beam and a shallow 3.4’ in draft. As a packet delivering people, cargo and the mails, the Belle worked for decades along several rivers from the Ohio to the Kanawha in West Virginia. In 1891, the Belle transported 8,320 tons of cargo and 6,241 passengers along the Ohio River.

In 1917, the Valley Belle was operating along the Ohio River between Marietta and Middleport, Ohio. In March 1919 it was purchased by Billy Bryant of the famous showboating family. Bryant had just built a fancy new showboat and needed a larger towboat than they owned to tow it.

The Belle towed Bryant’s New Showboat for several years down the Kanawha, Ohio, Monongahela, Illinois, and Mississippi Rivers before being replaced by a smaller boat. Competition from movie theaters had shortened the range of the showboats, which were forced to go to ever-smaller and more remote towns for willing audiences. The Belle continued to tow on various rivers until 1943, when it sank in the Ohio River at Kanauga, Oh. Its career as a wooden-hulled river steamer in nearly continuous use for 60 years is unmatched.

Date Made: 1970

Related Event: The Development of the Industrial United States


See more items in: Work and Industry: Maritime, Work, Industry & Manufacturing, Transportation, On the Water exhibit

Exhibition: On the Water

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Related Web Publication:

Related Publication: On the Water online exhibition

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: TR.330213Catalog Number: 330213Accession Number: 288672

Object Name: boat, rivermodel, river boatOther Terms: boat, river; Maritime

Measurements: overall: 10 in x 29 in x 6 in; 25.4 cm x 73.66 cm x 15.24 cm


Record Id: nmah_844166

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