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Library Exhibits Riverboat Photos from the Fred Way Collection

Plying the Western Waters:
Riverboat Photos from the Fred Way Collection

Jeff Spear, Curator

Exhibited in the Legacy Library first floor study lounges, Fall 2011.

The exhibit is comprised of prints of 12 unpublished photos selected from the 9,500 images of the Fred Way Collection. The collection documents riverboats that worked the Mississippi River and its tributaries (principally the Ohio River) from the mid 19th century through the later 20th century. The collection was acquired by the Marietta College Libary in 2009 as a gift from Woody Rutter (MC '48), son-in-law of Fred Way.

The collection includes images of both packet boats (passenger and freight boats operating on a schedule between two main terminals, as well as ferry boats, excursion boats, and lighthouse tenders) and towboats (work boats involved in moving bulk freight in barges). Roughly 55% of the collection contains images of packet boats, about 25% is devoted to towboats, and the remainder represents showboats, people, Civil War gunboats and other miscellany.

Fred Way (1901-1992) was active in riverboat work in his early career as pilot and master on boats working the Ohio River and its tributaries. Although he never gave up life on the river, he eventually devoted himself to becoming a writer, publishing books about life on the river. He served as president of the Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen from 1941 until his death in 1992, and for many years edited its journal, the S&D Reflector.