News and Tribune

Floyd County

January 23, 2013

NEW ALBANY BICENTENNIAL Week 4: Rise of the steamboats

(Continued)

NEW ALBANY —

“That just seems to be a name that has survived through the generations that if people don’t know the name of any other steamboat, they know the Robert E. Lee,” Norrington said.

Built in 1866, the Robert E. Lee was a sight to behold. The name on the other hand left some Hoosier residents less than thrilled. Due to the anti-Southern sentiment after the end of the Civil War, the makes of the boat deemed it best to travel across the river to the less Yankee Louisville to have the name of the Confederate general painted.

But the name of the 6,000-bale boat wasn’t what made her infamous. It was an 1870 race from New Orleans to St. Louis against a fast New Orleans ship named the Natchez. The Robert E. Lee won the 1,154 mile race with a long-standing record of 3 days, 18 hours and 14 minutes. Still to this day, people question the Lee’s win.

“There’s such controversy about it and there always will be. Who really won the race?” Norrington said. “It’s just one of those things that no one will really know for sure.”

By the late 1800s, steamboat building began to decline. Railways, and later paved roads, became the cheaper method of transporting goods. The Civil War and the Panic of 1857 with its subsequent credit tightening also contributed to the industry’s demise. According to “By the Rivers Edge” by 1880 only one shipyard remained in New Albany. The firm of Murray and Hammer launched its final boat a year later. 

“It’s just really ironic to think now how New Albany had all these things at one time and they all disappeared,” Norrington said.

Few snapshots and mementos remain from the steamboat era. The 1937 flood claimed many of the old relics. 

“So many photographs and memorabilia from New Albany’s steamboat days were lost in the flood,” Norrington said. “It’s sad that there’s so little in existence showing New Albany’s waterfront. It’s a shame because New Albany had such a glorious past in the Steamboat era.”

The Howard Steamboat Museum in Jeffersonville does house some collectibles and models of the Robert E. Lee, keeping its memory alive for future generations so they might know the great steamboat days of New Albany. For more information or to plan a visit, visit steamboatmuseum.org

 

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Floyd County
LOCAL MAGAZINES
Easter 2014 photos


Click on any photo to purchase it.

SPECIAL CONTENT
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
2013 Photos of the year


Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.