Otterbein, Indiana 47970
The heyday of the steamboat was the twenty-year period from 1845 to the end of the Civil War. The flatboats and keel-boats had brought a prosperous trade to towns along the western waters, and the arrival of the steamboat brought a boom. An American in 1841 wrote, 'Steam navigation has colonized the West.'
The stern-wheeler W. P. Snyder, Jr. is anchored on the Muskingum River near where it empties into the Ohio River and has now become a public museum. Although the side-wheelers were more easily maneuverable and faster than the stern-wheelers, the latter could tow barges and later pushed the barges in front of the towboat. This enabled the pilots to stop, slow, reverse, or change course with much greater control.
The W. P. Snyder, Jr. was built in 1918, is 175 feet long and 32 feet wide and has a paddle-wheel 21 feet in diameter. The boat is equipped with two sets of compound engines which generate 750 horsepower. Each engine has a high pressure cylinder fourteen inches in diameter, a low pressure cylinder twenty-eight inches in diameter, and a common piston stroke of seven feet. The exhausted steam from the low pressure cylinders is carried into a surface condenser and pumped from there into the boilers. The boiler plant consists of four 'western river boilers', each twenty-eight feet long and forty inches in diameter. In each boiler are two fifteen-inch flues through which the flame, having passed under the boilers from the flame bed, returns forward and is piped into the smoke stacks. The boiler fuel is bituminous coal, fed to the fireboxes by automatic stokers.
The W. P. Snyder, Jr. was given to the state of Ohio by the Crucible Steel Company of America. It is administered as a section of the River Museum of the Campus Martius State Memorial.
The boat very fittingly stands at the end of Sacra Via of Sacred Way, which was the name given by Ohio's first settlers to the graded thoroughfare which led from the Muskingum River to the Elevated Square. It is another example of precise engineering skill of the prehistoric mound builders. The original purpose is unknown but presumed to be a ceremonial clearing from the mounds to the river.
Evidently the early Ohio settlers, or at least a few of them, were well versed in their Latin because they named their fortified village, Campus Martius, (Mar-shus) meaning literally 'field of Mars.' This was the first permanent settlement and seat of government to be established in the Northwest Territory after the passage of the Ordinance of 1787. The Ohio State Historical Society Museum is on the site of Campus Martius. A River Museum has been established on the lower level of this museum which displays scale models, oil paintings, photographs, whistles and other mementos of river boats.
The Museum has two records for sale, 'Whistle Echoes' of the Ohio and Mississippi River Steamboats. They sell for $5.25 each, which would include tax and postage, for monoural the and $1.04 more for the stereo. Volume 2 also includes two numbers by a real steam calliope. The more you play these records, the more you want to hear them again; they grow on you.
Museum & Boat are open from 9:00 to 5:00 Monday through Sat. & 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Sundays.