Letter To The Editor: Public Support
In September 1970, I bought a sternwheel towboat from Maysville Sand & Gravel in Maysville, Ky. This boat was called the mv. Glenda H, and they had owned the boat since 1954 when they purchased her from the Corps of Engineers in Marietta, Ohio, at the Marietta Ohio Repair Station. I renamed it the Laura J after my oldest daughter.
The mv. Laura J was built by Dravo Contracting Company in Neville Island, Pa., in 1929 and sold shortly thereafter to the Corps of Engineers, who renamed it the Nemacolin.
Over the years that we have owned the boat, it has been used in harbor work and on many trips to look at jobs and river-related facilities. Consequently, since 1971, the boat has been on every navigable tributary of the Ohio River, plus trips on the Mississippi River from Cairo, Ill., to Cape Girardeau, Mo.
During this period, we took out all sorts of groups of people who wanted to get on the river but, in many cases, had no way to do it as there weren’t boats for charter in many of the towns. In the years we have had the boat, I feel that we have taken more people out on the river, providing dinner at no charge, than many other boats owned by any other river company.
This has been because we have a policy of introducing people to the river, so they can see its value and its beauty when they otherwise may not have had the experience. This policy started with Nelson Jones nearly 40 years ago when he started the Charleston Sternwheel Regatta.
Some of our recent trips on the Laura J include the Kanawha Valley Senior Services, FESTIVALL, Children’s Therapy Clinic, Electric Utility Safety Committee, Buckskin Council-Boy Scouts of America, and Charleston Area Medical Center.
Incidentally, the Laura J, as far as I know, has never been laid up and this nearly completes her 80th active season. The boat has been under the supervision of Capt. John E.R. Elkins for the last several years. He is one of our captains and was a great a friend to Nelson Jones.
I think the industry could take a page out of this book in dealing with the public. The river industry needs a lot of support in Congress and the comments from people are who knowledgeable, experienced and have an interest in the river are important.
Charles T. Jones
President and CEO