I grew up in East Liverpool, Ohio, within
a stone's throw of the Ohio River. Between my paper route and
tormenting my younger brothers and sister, I became interested in
the towboats pushing their tows up and down the river. I bought my
first camera in 1955, and from the lookout tower I built on a small
island near my house, began photographing and documenting the
movement of many of the area's towboats.
In 1958, I became a deckhand on the Cornell, then owned by
Union Barge Line. My goal was to become a steersman and then a
pilot, but I later learned my eyesight was not good enough. I would
have to settle being a licensed "mate of steam and motor vessels of
all gross tons upon rivers." After a brief stint in Germany with the
Army, I returned to the river. In 1968, I moved my family (wife,
Jeannette, and two daughters, Dani and Beth) to St. Louis to become
an editor of The Waterways Journal. I recently retired from
there after 33 years.
In 1945, Capt. Frederick Way began the Inland River
Record. I helped him with the book from 1956 until I became its
editor in 1977, and continue even though I am retired. The book has
been published since 1945 and has had only two editors in all those
ABOUT THE MUSEUM....
My hobby of photography and
collecting boat photos developed into a part-time business as I
began supplying photos to other hobbyists and co-workers. My
collection now includes more than 37,000 black and white photographs
of over 13,500 different inland towboats and Gulf area coastal tugs.
Over the years, several thousand individuals, companies and
hobbyists have contributed boat photos, which I have incorporated
into my collection, while others have willed their entire
collections to me. I like to think of Boat Photo Museum as a central
collection point to perpetuate the photos for future years.
If you are seeking
information on a former or presently operating towboat or Gulf coast
tug, I probably have some data available. If you are looking for
photos of early gas or diesel sternwheelers, early prop boats, or
existing inland river towboats and Gulf coast tugs, please send me a
list of what you need. I will respond to your inquiries, stating if
it is in my collection, and the charge for the photograph.
Many old time rivermen have sent me long lists of boats and were
amazed when they learned I could supply photos of practically every
boat they ever worked on. Boat modelers also order photos from me,
as I can often provide several views of the same boat. Whatever your
purpose for acquiring boat photos, I will do my best to fill your
Usually, I print new photographs from my large collection of
negatives. I am a hobbyist, and charge only nominal fees for my
photographs. Please contact me for prices and availability.
Thanks to my daughter Beth Owen for creating this
website for me.