Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for National Steamboat Monument

The National Steamboat Monument is located at the Public Landing along the riverfront of Cincinnati, and it is designed to both celebrate and remember the importance of steamboats in the history of the city.

Cincinnati's growth as a city in the 1800s coincided with the heyday of the steamboat age, and there's no question it would not have expanded as it did if not for its importance as a steamboat port along the Ohio river. At the height of this era, when riverboats were the primary means of shipping materials to the south and west, 8,000 riverboats a year, or an average of about 22 a day, docked near what is now the home of the monument.

The monument itself is a 30 foot replica of the paddle wheel of the American Queen, which is the last of the original Delta Queen paddlewheelers. When visitors pass the monument, steam rises from the columns and calliope music plays. Since I was sick last week I didn't get a chance to visit the monument myself, but that's probably for the best as I've no doubt the music and steam would have scared the heck out of Clancy if we'd walked by it.

Nowadays, the only steamboats we see going up and down the Ohio river are the B&B Riverboats, which offer dinner and entertainment cruises. The only time I've been on one of these riverboats was when I was in high school and went to a prom on one of the boats. I've always had trouble with motion sickness and Dramamine is my dear friend but, for some mysterious reason, I did not take any Dramamine before going to that prom. As a result, I spent the majority of the evening clutching the railing of the boat and hoping I didn't get sick over the side. Thankfully, I didn't, but it's probably not a surprise that I never saw that prom date again.

After that experience, riverboats really don't appeal to me at all and I've no desire to ever set foot on one again. But as long as I am not on them, I think they are beautiful and I love the sense of nostalgia that surrounds them. They are reminders of a bygone era and, as a history buff, I can't help but wonder what it was like to stand at the Public Landing and see the dozens of huge boats passing by on their way to the Mississippi, and all points south and west.


  1. Riverboats are pretty cool. This story makes me glad I didn't have my prom on one of these though

  2. I've been on quite a few as dinner cruises are popular near the coast. Sorry you felt sick during your one trip.

  3. My father was actually the chief engineer on the American Queen and the Mississippi Queen so riverboats were (and still are) a big part of my family.

  4. Julie,
    I'm chuckling at your experience on prom night...okay, I've eaten on one of those and think they are quite lovely but mine was docked so really no comparison!

  5. I have to laugh at your prom experience. Though, I'm quite sure it wasn't funny to you at the time.
    I don't think I've ever been on a riverboat--unless a catamaran counts.

  6. I went to a riverboat dance in college and remember one of my friends feeling the same way!

  7. Oh, what a way to spend your prom, clutching the railing and hoping you don't toss your cookies all over your date. Haha. Well, I mean, it's funny now, but back then probably not so much. :)

    Aside from that, aren't river boats cool? The only one I've ever seen or been on is the one at Disney World. Don't know if it counts, but it's still kind of impressive.

  8. @Carrie, I think the prom was fun for everyone else, it was a great setting really.

    @Alex, I think the dinner cruises would be a lot of fun if I could handle the boat ride.

    @MJ, oh, that's really interesting! I think these boats are amazing.

    @Tracy, they are definitely lovely, just as long as I don't get on board LOL.

    @Susan, I once considered getting on a catamaran and then didn't think even a whole tube of Dramamine would get me through it. I actually really wish I could get over this motion sickness problem.

  9. @Johanna, oh, I'm glad I'm not the only one!

    @LG, yeah, it wasn't funny then at all LOL. To make it worse I was wearing a totally 80s green dress and my face was as green as the dress by the end of the night. I bet that was fun at Disney!

  10. A most enjoyable read, I have never been on one, but reading this made me feel I was on board.


  11. I've been on a riverboat tour around the lake at Stone Mountain, here in Georgia, but that wasn't nearly as neat as taking the riverboat ride down the Mississippi from New Orleans. I absolutely LOVED it. Sorry about your prom experience. Bummer.

  12. I was on one of those boats for prom too.

  13. They were very popular on the Great Lakes, too. Of course. I grew up in Buffalo which thrived on steam boat traffic once upon a time, too.

    They used to have some old boats on the Niagara River and Lake Erie when I was little. My grandmother was very fond of them. Her father was a cook on ships, but I think freighters.

  14. There used to be (may still be) a paddle boat by Hannibal, Missouri. Went on it once but so long ago, that I don't remember much. Having 'sea legs', I was okay.

    Love stories about history, historical places.

  15. Aw, maybe your date took it personal. Teen guys are so sensitive.
    Didn't know they had these boats in Cinci.

  16. @Yvonne, I'm so glad you liked it, thanks!

    @Susan, oh wow, I bet that was amazing taking that trip from New Orleans. Although of course I would have had to be medicated LOL.

    @Tonja, I wonder if they still have proms on the boats, I guess they probably do.

    @Mary, oh, I can imagine they were popular in the Buffalo area. The history of them is really interesting.

    @Susan, I love history too, I'm glad you liked this.

    @Em, if he did, I can't blame him. It was awful and so embarrassing LOL.

  17. That prom story is too funny. Of course, in a laughing-with-you kind of way. Steamboats are cool, although the only one I've actually seen in water is the one in Tom Sawyer's Cove at Disneyland.

  18. That's so neat. I've always wanted to ride a riverboat.

  19. I've never been on a steamboat, but they look like a blast! Dramamine would be my best friend though.

  20. @Tim, it took me many years to be able to laugh about the prom, what a nightmare LOL.

    @Christine, they are cool, I hope you get to ride one sometime.

    @Michael, yeah, to me Dramamine is one of the best inventions ever LOL.


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