Towboat Oliver C. Shearer

Source: Marietta Manufacturing Company Records, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #742

M.V. Towboat "Oliver C. Shearer" being built

M.V. Towboat "Oliver C. Shearer" being built

Staff Person: Emily Blankenship

The Marietta Manufacturing Company records were officially donated to the Special Collections Department in the spring of 1997. A team of four library staff and students traveled to West Virginia to obtain the records. After spending two days retrieving over 200 cubic feet of records and packing them in a van, the team completed the nearly 900 mile roundtrip back to Greenville. The administrative (paper) records of the company are now processed. The finding aid is available online at: Manuscript Collection 742.

The photo below is of the towboat Oliver C. Shearer on the day it was launched, Dec. 8, 1960. The boat was built by Marietta for the O. F. Shearer River Transportation Company. If you look closely, there are 6 men standing under the boat readying the carriage and cradles (which hold the hull) for release and greasing the ways (rails) for the launching.

According to the January 9, 1961 edition of the Inland Waterways Journal, “Mrs. Oliver C. Shearer christened the boat at 3 p.m. and within seconds a hand ratchet was tripped. The boat slowly gained momentum until she careened down into the waters of the Ohio River, going in a 45 degree angle to port, and then lazily falling back to starboard before she settled and righted herself, head toward the shore. Numerous Marietta workmen in rowboats pulled out to retrieve the carriage and cradles on which the Oliver C. Shearer had made her trip down the ways.”

O.F. Shearer and Sons began operations in the early 1920s moving materials on the Kentucky River. By the 1950’s O.F. Shearer & Sons offices were located in the Union Central Tower in Cincinnati and the company concentrated on Ohio and Kanawha river business. In 1973, the firm was sold to the American Electric Power Co. Today AEP and its sister company, Memco Barge Lines, are major players in the inland river industry. The O.F. Shearer and Sons company records are in the care of the Pt. Pleasant, WV River Museum.

The Oliver C. Shearer still carries its original name, but is now owned by Campbell Transportation out of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Please contact the Special Collections Department with any questions or comments.