By Patricia Morrison
Friends of the Library, the Indiana Historical Society and Hanover College are working together to bring an exhibit to the Carnegie Public Library, 300 W. Main St.
The “Steamboat A Comin’” exhibition honors the bicentennial of the first steamboat to make the trip from Pittsburgh down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River and on to New Orleans.
Rick Chambon of the library staff said the exhibit includes 19 panels, each 7 feet tall, that tell the story of the “New Orleans,” the first steamboat to make the voyage. The ship was designed and built in Pittsburgh by steamboat inventor Robert Fulton.
Representatives of the historical society and Hanover will set up the exhibit Feb. 3 on the upper floor of the library and the exhibit will open to the public Feb. 4. Chambon said the exhibit needs 300 square feet and he expects it will extend through the open section separating the genealogy room from the main book room. The public can view the exhibit during regular library hours.
Special events are being planned during the exhibit’s monthlong visit to Washington.
“Teresa (Heidenreich, head librarian) and I both felt strongly we want the library to become a community center,” Chambon said. “It is a place of learning, and we would like it to be a place to come for art and culture.”
Friends of the Library will host a reception from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 7 in celebration of the exhibit. Robert Reid, professor of history emeritus at the University of Southern Indiana, will give a presentation on the history of the Ohio River as seen through the groundbreaking first steamboat voyage of the “New Orleans” in 1811.
Named the first professor of academic affairs at USI in 1974, Reid was with the university for 30 years guiding the development of associate, baccalaureate and master’s degrees and directed the commitment to excellence in teaching for which USI is known.
He retired in 2003, but has continued his work with the Higher Learning Commission and extended his research on the 1937 flood. He will be sharing his knowledge of steamboats, and most especially the “New Orleans,” at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 during the library open house.
A member of the 2011 Steamboat Bicentennial Commission, he has helped with the development of the display that has been traveling the state marking the 200th anniversary of steamboat travel from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. Steamboat travel changed dramatically the history of transportation and thus of industrial and business development.
The 19 panels will show much of that history and change.
The library also invites the public to visit the library at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21 as Chambon presents the evolution of ocean travel including the world’s most famous ocean liners from paddle ships of the 1840s to today’s modern luxury liners.
As the exhibit’s visit to Washington draws to a close, the library will offer a DVD presentation on the historic Delta Queen. The presentation at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28 will show what a river cruise was like on the Delta Queen, one of the most famous steamboats to cruise the Ohio.
The exhibit will be in Washington from Feb. 4 to March 3.