Did you know that while Robert Fulton is credited with inventing the steam engine boat, a West Virginian tested a steam-powered engine boat in Shepherdstown twenty years earlier? You can see a model of James Rumsey’s engine boat in this room. The model is more than 100 years old.
Like the railroads, river transportation meant a great deal to West Virginia’s industries. Even today our major rivers are important for transportation. If you’ve never been on a steam boat, check out the pilot wheel on the wall. How hard do you think it might be to steer with this wheel?
Throughout our history we’ve faced tragedies when the rivers have left their banks. Devastating floods are part of our state’s river history, too. You’ll see pictures of a few of them in this room.
Video courtesy of West Virginia Public Broadcasting; Videographer/Editor: Janet Kunicki; Narrator: Beth Vorhees