by Connie Cherba
The William M. Black, a side wheel, steam-powered dredge boat, built in 1934 by the Marietta Manufacturing Co. of Point Pleasant, WV, has been permanently moored in Dubuque’s Ice Harbor for nearly 40 years. The 85-year-old, 277-foot boat may leak, sport some rust and a little peeling paint, but it’s still one of the most popular exhibits offered by Dubuque’s National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.
Competition for the Black was stiff back in 1973 when the boat was retired after thirty-nine years of dredging navigation channels, excavating boat harbors, and pumping earth fills on the Missouri River. Although Riverside, MO, a suburb of Kansas City, made a strong case for keeping the Black on the Missouri River, Iowa Senators John Culver and Roger Jepsen along with Governor Robert Ray lobbied successfully with the General Services Administration, pointing out that Dubuque already had a harbor and a river museum ready to exhibit the boat.
To read this and other featured articles in their entirety, pickup the June 2019 issue of Julien’s Journal magazine. Click to subscribe for convenient delivery by mail, or call (563) 557-1914. Single issues are also available in print at area newsstands and digitally via the Issuu platform.