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.