In its heyday, Clarington was an epicenter of boat building where local men and workers constructed some of the most recognized packet boats on the Ohio River at Mozena Bros. Boatyard, including the LIBERTY, CITY OF WHEELING, AVALON, and hundreds of others.
In 1923, Mozena Bros. Boatyard received a contract from Joe Cresap of Moundsville, WV to construct a 70-foot-long, 18-foot-wide wooden-hull sternwheeler. The vessel proved successful and ultimately was sold in later years to a buyer in Pittsburgh, PA and renamed SKIPPER. The vessel was powered by a 40 hp St. Mary’s gasoline engine until replaced in later years by a Caterpillar diesel engine. In the early 1980s, Gary Frommelt purchased her and took her to Guttenberg, Iowa where he renamed her the LOUISE.
In December, 2018 Mr. Frommelt donated the vessel to our museum in hopes of restoring her as a museum exhibit. Today, the vessel is not only the last surviving Clarington-built vessel, but she is also the last wooden-hull sternwheel vessel of her kind in the United States, and one of only three remaining in the world.
After nearly a year of logistical planning, the vessel was shipped via a super-load trucking company nearly 750 miles from its location in Guttenberg to the Hannibal Industrial Park in Hannibal, Ohio. David Reid, the plant’s managing director, graciously provided the vessel a secured warehouse space where the restoration will take place. Our goal is to restore the vessel to its original 1923 appearance as the J.A. CRESAP. This is being accomplished in conjunction with the Pittsburgh District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In 2017, we entered into a partnership with the Corps to restore the on-site visitor’s center and outdoor historical exhibits that are open to the public. We have since added historical exhibits within the visitor’s center. We are currently working with the Corps to secure a permanent location to display the vessel on the grounds of the facility.
The Ohio Valley River Museum seeks to bring more visitors and tourists to view the workings of Hannibal Locks and Dam and enjoy the historical exhibits and scenic grounds. Since reopening the visitor’s center two years ago, more than 10,000 visitors from around the United States and more than five foreign nations have enjoyed the facility. Adding the CRESAP to the already exceptional exhibits at Hannibal Locks and Dam would further enhance the visitor experience and provide the public with a unique and last-of-its-kind piece of history and education attraction. The photographs on the following pages show the vessel throughout various points in its long career.