W. P. Snyder, Jr. at Marietta Ohio

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

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.

Farm Collector Magazine
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Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment