Everybody who did not meet Bert Fenn is culturally deprived. Bert was a steamboat historian without a peer. He not only collected steamboat books, he READ them and practically memorized them. He collected artifacts, too, even including the forward model of an unidentified hull. He suspected it was from the Mechanic, the boat that LaFayette rode on the Ohio. That was proved wrong when someone found a log from the boat. It sank at Flint Island, all right, but it was raised and repaired at New Albany. The mystery bow laid in an alley between two Tell City Chair Company buildings for years. He tried to donate it to several museums with no luck. It was finally torn apart and removed.
But that was not the remarkable relic. Everyine who entered his office was obliged to step over a stage boom lying in the hall.
Bert was an ebullient extrovert who shared what he had with all comers. A visit to Tell City could fetch up in a cemetery to see Robert Fulton's brother's grave or it could wind up on a rock to view "dinosewer" (his pronunciation) footprints.
When he heard about the whistle blow on the Nugent derrick boat he determined to have one for the Tell City Schweitzerfest. It attracted world-wide attention.
One year he made a remarkable suggestion for an event for the Schweitzerfest. He proposed that they put a couple of barrels of sauerkraut in a dump truck, lace it with about forty dollars in loose change, dump it in the street at the corner of Main and Tell Streets and let the town kids dive for the money. The committee turned the idea down - not because of costs or kraut-covered clothing. No! They could not stand to waste that good sauerkraut.