Monday, June 18, 2018

The steamer Vesta

Working on a personal project that will be adapted to this blog eventually, I have been reading old, old issues of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune. Sometimes I find interesting stuff, such as articles that reveal the history of residential electrical service in the Gallipolis, Ohio, and Point Pleasant, W.Va., areas in the 1920s.

And sometimes there are interesting nuggets that make me dig out reference materials. Back 80 to 100 years ago, the Daily Tribune ran a daily column called News of the River that reported on boat movements, dam news and personal gossip pertaining to the Ohio and Kanawha river.

On Monday, April 26, 1937, the newspaper reported the following:

The steamer Vesta of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation passed through the Gallipolis locks early today with a tow of about 12 barges loaded with steel products for delivery to Memphis and New Orleans. Captain R.M. Brown was in charge as master, with R.J. Culp as pilot and Alex Lees as chief engineer.

Many readers of this blog will recognize the Vesta as the original name of the M/V J.S. Lewis. After name changes and upgrades, the boat continued to push coal on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers into the 1980s and perhaps beyond. Nowadays it spends most of its time tied up at Amherst Madison's home office on the Kanawha River just above Charleston.

The J.S. Lewis pushing a coal tow on the Ohio River in the 1980s.

When the J.S. Lewis does get out on the river it's a sight, as it is one of the few remaining operating links to the steam era. The Lewis was built in 1931 and was converted to diesel power in 1958. A person could write a long, long piece about this boat, which I might have to do sometime, but probably not right now.