Str Virginia

The Virginia was a  a sternwheel packet built by Cincinnati Marine Railway Company and launched on 30 Dec 1892.  Built for the Pittsburgh Cincinnati Packet Line to replace the burned Iron Queen, the Virginia dimensions were 235x40x7.  The cost was $42,626.68 and it is said that within the year she paid for herself.  Her first officers were Thomas S Calhoon, master; Robert H Kerr, clerk; and Harry Ollum and Spencer Sanford, pilots; Johnson and Owens,engineers; John Sweeney and Hod Knowles, mates; and Irwin Johnson, steward . [1] 

 

The Virginia passing under the Wabash Bridge note the stacks (From the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

The Virginia passing under the Wabash Bridge note the stacks (From the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Capt Thomas S Calhoon (left) aboard the Virginia 1896 (From the Collection of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County)

Capt Thomas S Calhoon (left) aboard the Virginia 1896 (From the Collection of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County)

The Virginia was the ultimate in luxurious travel.  Before the Broadway Limited of railway fame, the Virginia cruise from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati was a trip of breathtaking elegance and adventure.  The cabin was 190 feet long with 50 state rooms. There were 10 more staterooms on the texas.  Each state room had an upper and lower berth.  The mattresses, sheets, and pillows and linens were proved by Joseph Horne and Co, the famed department store in Pittsburgh.  An upright piano in the ladies cabin was provided by Kappel Music House.  The full length hallway was also used as the dining area.  Tables could be finely set for 120 passengers and officers.   [2] 

The Virginia was exceptionally quiet and was one of the first steamboats on the upper Ohio to install a carbon arc searchlight, called a White Squadron. 

 

 

Str Virginia in WV cornfield 1910 (From the Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse)

Str Virginia in WV cornfield 1910 (From the Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse)

The Virginia is well known for missing the Ohio River channel during a period of high water on 6 Mar 1910.  Capt Calhoon was not the master when the Virginia unceremoniously settled in a cornfield in Willow Grove, WV.  A Pittsburgh engineering firm, Eichleay Co, managed to move her back into the water.  When the Pittsburgh Cincinnati Packet Line folded in 1909 due to the favored railroad travel, the Virginia went through a series of changes until she was dismantled in New Orleans around 1921.[3]

 

 

Pittsburgh Cincinnati Packet Line Advertisement (F Nash Collection)

Pittsburgh Cincinnati Packet Line Advertisement (F Nash Collection)

 

 For more details and photos about the charmed life of the Virginia, follow the link to the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

  

References.

 


[1]    Alexander C McIntosh, A Genealogy Report on the Calhoon Family, Beaver County Historical Society.
[2] Jim Mullooly, Married Women from Burgettstown, Observer Reporter, Washington, PA, Jun 6, 1973.
[3] Alexander C McIntosh, A Genealogy Report on the Calhoon Family, Beaver County Historical Society.

Copyright © Francis W Nash
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