Editor's note: This is the 64th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.
Steam-powered sternwheelers still ruled the river in 1925, when the Ohio River Co. first began transporting coal and other commodities on the Ohio.
The company steadily grew into one of the biggest and busiest on the river, ultimately becoming the leading carrier of coal on the inland waterway system.
In 1926, the company's first full year of operation, it carried 399,000 tons of cargo. By the 1950s, it was carrying more than 12 million tons every year.
On Sept. 27, 1956, the Ohio River Co. terminal at 24th Street in Huntington was the scene for the colorful christening of the newest addition to the company's fleet of modern diesel-powered towboats, the "City of Huntington."
Hundreds of invited guests crowded aboard a canopy-covered barge to witness Mrs. George E. Theurer, wife of the mayor, crack the traditional bottle of champagne over a capstan. Ohio River Co. President Mike Creditor and the new towboat's captain, Jack Hamlin, looked on.
The 104-foot "City of Huntington" was built by St. Louis Ship. Today, while it's no longer part of the Ohio River Co. fleet, Huntington's former namesake towboat is still in service on the river. Now owned by Ozark Transportation of Paducah, Kentucky, it was renamed the "Capt. Bill" in 2002.
In 1959, the parent firm of the Ohio River Co., the West Virginia Coal & Coke Corp. changed its corporate name to Midland Enterprises. By the 1990s, Midland was carrying more than 60 million tons of river cargo a year, with coal accounting for roughly two-thirds of the total. In 2002, Midland was acquired by the Ingram Marine Group, the largest carrier on the inland waterways.
To read more articles from this series, go to www.herald-dispatch.com. Click on "News," then "Lost Huntington" series.