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Industry Shipbuilding
Fate Still in operation
Predecessor Howard Shipyard, Jeffersonville Boat Company
Founded 1834 as Howard Shipyard in Jeffersonville, Indiana, U.S.A.
Founder James Howard
Headquarters Jeffersonville, Indiana
Jeffboat Marine Repair
Jeffboat Marine Repair - Kort nozzle repair

Jeffboat is a shipyard in Jeffersonville, Indiana founded by James Howard in 1834, a builder of steamboats. The company was owned by the family until it was sold leading up to World War II. More recently known as Jefferson Boat Company and shortened to Jeffboat, the company is the largest inland shipbuilder in the United States and the second-largest builder of barges.


Jeffboat was originally established as the Howard Shipyards in 1834[1] by James Howard when he started his first boat, the Hyperion. The Howard family controlled the company for 107 years, building over 3,000 ships.[2]

19th-century steamboats[edit]

The Joe Fowler is a former steamboat built at the Howard Shipyard in 1888. The sternwheeler was designed for packet service between Evansville, Indiana and Paducah, Kentucky. Joe Fowler was a United States Mail carrier, and after seven years of service, had logged over 327,000 miles and transported over 152,000 passengers without a fatal accident. In 1914, new owners replaced the steamer with high-pressure boilers desigined for the western rivers. After this time, Joe Fowler ran excursions around the Pittsburgh and Wheeling, West Virginia areas, before hosting a cruise down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers for Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and a long summer cruise from Pittsburgh to St. Paul, then back to Louisville. After 1917, it was sold, refitted to better serve excursions, and renamed Crescent.[3]

The Emily is a former sternwheeled steamboat built at the Howard Shipyard in 1891. The single-boiler steamer began in ferry service at Kenova, West Virginia, and later operated at Wheeling, West Virginia. Emily was sold three times, starting in 1902. The third buyer was was Henderson Ferry Company of Henderson, Kentucky, which renamed it the Dixie Bee Line. It burned in Henderson in 1926. After a rebuild, it ran as the ferry Ohio No. 2.[4] In the 1930s, it was renovated for packet service, and renamed Joe Curtis, and plied the waters near Memphis until it struck ice and sunk on January 25, 1940.[5]

20th century[edit]

The company faced persistent challenges during the Great Depression. The United States Navy bought the shipyards in 1942 and reorganized it as the Jeffersonville Boat & Machine Company.[6]

During World War II, it built 123 Landing Ship-Tanks (LSTs), 23 submarine chasers, and numerous other craft. Post-war, the shipyards built customized crafts, but specialized in barges and towboats. In 1957, the official name was changed to Jeffboat.

The Jeffboat yard built two nostalgic paddlewheelers during this period. In 1973, it completed Mississippi Queen steamboat, and in 1985, finished the General Jackson showboat.[2]

Production was stopped from 1986 to 1989.[6]

21st century[edit]

A wildcat strike shut down operations during part of 2001.[6]

The Jeffboat yard built a third nostalgic, paddlewheeler, the City of Evansville, which was put into service as the Casino Aztar riverboat casino.[2]

A union decertification petition was circulated in the fall of 2006. The petition required 30% of bargaining unit employees to sign to schedule a decertification election. The election was held on December 7, 2006, and the employees voted overwhelmingly (NLRB certified results 649 to 190) to retain Teamsters Local 89 as their union.[7]

As of 20 June 2015, the 68-acre Jeffboat shipyard is owned by American Commercial Lines Inc. (ACL), a company also based in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Mark Knoy is the CEO. In turn, Platinum Equity owns ACL, the largest inland shipbuilder in the United States, building both river barges and ocean barges.[6]

Ships built[edit]

Ships built in the yard include (in alphabetical order):

Name Origin Year Power Propulsion tonnage Length Beam Draft Out of service Notes
A.D. Allen[8] Built 1901 Single steam boiler Sternwheeler 125 23 2.5 1929 or later Arkansas River
A.M. Halliday[8] Built 1903 Single boiler steam Centerwheel 121 59 7.7 1954 Steel, double-hull. Ferry. Dismantled.
A. Baldwin[8] Built 1905 Dual boiler, steam Centerwheel 127 58.9 7.5 1971 Steel-hull. Catamaran. Ferry.
Acadia[8] Built 1860 Steam Sternwheeler 188 35 7 1863 Burned in the Civil War
Alberta[8] Built 1876 Steam Sternwheeler 107 116 25 3.5 White River
Alberta[8] Built 1880 Steam Sternwheeler 150 18.5 3.5 Arkansas and White rivers
Alberta No. 3[8] Built 1884 Steam Sternwheeler 145 28 3.6 White River
Alex Perry[8] Built 1891 Dual boiler, steam Sternwheeler 149.9 18.5 3.5 1896 Lost to fire
Alex. Scott[8] Built 1842 Steam, six-boilers Sidewheeler 266 34 8 St. Louis–New Orleans
Algiers[8] Built 1925 Steam, dual boilers Sternwheeler 144 55 7.7 After 1958 Dual, steel hull. Catamaran. Ferry. New Orleans.
Aline[8] Built 1858 Steam Sternwheeler 125 30 6 New Orleans–Opelousas (1859). Confederate service (1861)
Alma[8] Built 1900 Triple-boiler, steam Sternwheeler 311 220 36 5 1861 Missouri River
Alonzo C. Church[8] Built 1893 Triple-boiler steam Recess wheel 59 7.7 1954 Steel, double-hull. Ferry. Dismantled.
A. Baldwin[8] Built 1905 Dual boiler, steam Centerwheel 172.3 43.3 6.5 1914 Dismantled and converted to wharf boat.
Alonzo Child[8] Built 1857 Steam, six boilers. Sidewheeler 236 38 7 After 1863 St. Louis–Omaha. St. Louis–New Orleans.
Alton[8] Built 1906 Steam Sidewheeler 241.1 38 7.3 1918 St. Louis–Alton. Excursions. Lost in ice.
America[8] Built 1898 Triple-boiler, steam Sternwheeler 200 38 6.5 1926 Ouchita River (1898). Mississippi River (1904).
America[8] Built 1917 Steam, five boilers Sidewheeler 285 45 6 1930 Converted wooden hull from Indiana. Lost to fire.
Andrew Christy[8] Built 1897 Triple-boiler, steam Sidewheeler 170 48 7.4 Renamed Henry Watterson
Archie P. Green[8] Built 1873 Steam Sternwheeler 110 22 3 1880 White River. Sunk near Batesville, Arkansas.
Arkansas City[8] Built 1882 Steam Sidewheeler 1,236 273 44 7 1896 Destroyed in tornado
Ashland City[8] Built 1892 Steam Sternwheeler 120 20 3.9 After 1900 Nashville–Clarksville (1892). Paducah–Danville.
Assumption[8] Built 1875 Steam Sternwheeler 151 35.8 6.5 1895 New Orleans–Thibodeaux (1878). New Orleans–Bayou Lafourche (1880).
B.B.[9] Built 1899 Steam Sternwheeler Ferry at Warsaw and Quincy
B.H. Crooke[9] Built 1873 Steam Sternwheeler 151 30 4.5 1880 Evansville–Nashville. Dismantled.
Bayliss Lee[9] Built 1899 Steam Sternwheeler 190 38 5.8 Memphis. Paducah–Waterloo. Memphis–Vicksburg.
Bayou City[9] Built 1859 Steam Sidewheeler 165 28 5 Houston–Galveston
Belle Lee[9] Built 1868 Eight boilers, steam Sidewheeler 1,284 291 2.4 8.4 1876 Refabricated and renamed Mary Bell
Belle Memphis[9] Built 1866 Steam Sidewheeler 260 40 7 1980 St.Louis–Memphis. Dismantled.
Belle Memphis[9] Built 1880 Five boilers, steam Sidewheeler 267 42 7.5 1897 St. Louis–Memphis. Hit snag near Chester, Illinois.
Belle of Alton[9] Built Six boilers, steam Sidewheeler 229 34.5 6 1871 Alton–St. Louis (1868). New Orleans–Grand Encore (1870). Fire.
Belle of the Bends[9] Built 1898 Three boilers, steam Sidewheeler 210 32.6 7.4 Vickburg–Greenville (1898). Sank and raised twice. Renamed Liberty.
Ben Franklin[9] Built 1869 Four boilers, steam Sidewheeler 261 37.5 6.1 1881 Cincinnati–Madison. Sank in 1878, but recovered.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us | History". Jeffboat. Retrieved 9 April 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Howard Saga". Howard Steamboat Museum. Retrieved 6 November 2017. 
  3. ^ Frederick Way, Jr. (1994). Way's Packet Directory, 1848–1994. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. p. 248. 
  4. ^ Way (1994), p. 148.
  5. ^ Way (1994), p. 248.
  6. ^ a b c d Sam Stall (20 June 2015). "Barge builder embraces stability". Indiana Business Journal. Retrieved 9 November 2017. 
  7. ^ David Mann (9 December 2017). "Union doesn't jump ship at Jeffboat". News and Tribune. Retrieved 9 November 2017. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Frederick Way, Jr. (1994). Way's Packet Directory, 1848–1994. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. pp. 1–34. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Frederick Way, Jr. (1994). Way’s Packet Directory, 1848–1994. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. pp. 34–64. 

External links[edit]