Photography Exhibit Depicts Ohio River's History

By Rishell, Grace | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), August 6, 2003 | Go to article overview

Photography Exhibit Depicts Ohio River's History


Rishell, Grace, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


River life through the decades is depicted in "Our Ohio River, History Flows By," a photographic exhibit, on display through Sept. 19 at Adult Resources in Coraopolis.

The exhibit features about 50 photos that include 19th-century stern wheel riverboats and World War II landing craft.

A photo of Walnut Beach in Sewickley on Labor Day 1916 catches modestly dressed swimmers cooling off in the river, while men in long-sleeved shirts and ties canoe nearby.

The exhibit "is not scholarly or comprehensive," said John Seitz, coordinator for arts programs at Adult Resources, a nonprofit agency that offers people 55 and older a variety of support, social and educational programs.

The photographs, Seitz said, "are really just glimpses into local history to whet the appetite."

In the century before last, packet boats were used to ply regular routes along the rivers while carrying passengers, freight and mail.

One of these, the Great Republic, a long, ornate boat, is pictured along with its saloon, where passengers were able to dine, relax and enjoy the pleasures of shipboard life.

A local firm, the E&N Porter Co., in 1866 built the Great Republic's hull at its Shousetown works on the Ohio River. Shousetown, now known as Crescent Township, originally was named for Peter Shouse, a boat builder and founder of the community that once bore his name.

Viewers can then jump ahead 75 years for a photo taken Feb. 4, 1942, only two months after Pearl Harbor. It shows a solitary house in the middle of an empty field in Neville. On Aug. 25, 1942, a picture taken from a similar angle finds the house completely surrounded by Dravo's boat yards, now geared up for maximum effort to supply war needs.

"It shows the changes in our country" the war wrought, Seitz said.

The impetus for the exhibit occurred when Seitz spoke at a meeting of the Crescent-Shousetown Area Historical Association. Seitz was introducing the group to Adult Resources' Home Safe Home program, which helps older adults remain safe through home checks and installation of grab bars and stair railings.

He and Eliot Johnson of Moon, a founding member of the association, "ended up talking about the river," Seitz said. …

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