Bryant’s New Showboat


Bryant’s New Showboat was built at Point Pleasant, W. Va., in 1917. Launched in 1918, it could seat around 880 people in its theater. Most of the shows put on for Bryant’s patrons in small towns along the Kanawha, Ohio, Monongahela, Illinois, and Mississippi Rivers were vaudeville or follies productions.

The ornate stage of Bryant’s New Showboat was home to dozens of plays like Hamlet and Little Nell of the Ozarks, and even the antics of a trained bucking mule named January. Owner Billy Bryant offered $10 to anyone who could stay on the animal’s back, but he had to retract that offer in mining towns, as the miners were strong enough to stay on.

The vessel was sold to new owners in 1945, at the end of World War II. Movie theaters, personal automobiles and other developments had gradually ended the colorful showboat era on America’s rivers.

Date Made: 1976

Related Event: The Emergence of Modern America


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

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.335568Catalog Number: 335568Accession Number: 1977.0630

Object Name: model, boatOther Terms: Show

Physical Description: wood (overall material)Measurements: overall: 9 in x 33 in x 7 in; 22.86 cm x 83.82 cm x 17.78 cm


Record Id: nmah_844167

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.