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Thread: Wisdom of Capt. Jesse P. Hughes

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  1. #1

    Default Wisdom of Capt. Jesse P. Hughes

    The river was extremely low in October, 1900; 7 inches on the Wheeling gauge, 21 inches at Marietta. Capt Jesse joined a group of 8 other pilots on a posting trip to see the bottom of the river at this extreme low water. The pilots were mostly Combine pilots who wanted to see the sand bars, rocks and ledges that they sailed over with their huge coal tows in better stages of water. The took copious notes. The miniature steamer "with cylinders near the size of oyster cans) HARBOR TWENTY-FIVE pushed a shanty boat where the visiting pilots rode, ate and slept.
    As Jesse described it; " the pilots were taking a "post graduate course", combing business and pleasure, preparing for the day when real navigation should again be resumed. Once more going over the route of which they had already made a life study."
    Writing the account of this trip in the post canalization days, Jesse wrote; "Of the life study of these older pilots, seemingly not much is now needed. Improvements and changes thus come over the world in general, and much of yesterday's needs will hardly be wanted tomorrow; but to the new navigator should be given this friendly advice, "keep a full pool'.
    I thought that was interesting and in today's world pretty good advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Ellettsville, Indiana
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    136

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    Jim, I have a 1916 river chart book showing the river before the first set of dams were constructed. Boy, it would be nice if Capt Jesse's notes still exist and can be shared today. I digitally made an overlay of a 1934 and 1979 river chart against this 1916 version of the river around Rising Sun, Indiana. Ol' Man River today ain't nothing like what Jesse saw on his expedition.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Paragould, AR or on m/v MAGNOLIA
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    1,451

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    Very true it ain’t nothin’ like it was! And also very true that today’s pilot cares little about it. I care only from a historical point of view. Yes, let’s do keep a full pool, where we can sit back and basically “take her up the middle”. As Alan Bates used to say, “Do not wish for the ‘good old days’. You wouldn’t have liked them.”

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
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    1,650

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    *Wisdom of Capt. Jesse P. Hughes*
    steamboating colleagues,
    Thanks, Jim, for your memories of Capt. Jesse Hughes as posted above. Those of us who met/knew Jesse met a true 'grand original.' I have several signed copies of his STEAMBOAT SKETCHBOOK printed in the 1950s by Young & Klein, Cincinnati, featuring his fine drawings and paintings. Jesse was quite an artist in his own right. One drawing he did showed the little steamboat CRICKET navigating in absolute slack low water showing a man with a horse and wagon crossing the river in front of the CRICKET with water barely up to the wagon hubs. And how he loved telling about that in his later years. But Jesse was more than just a steamboat pilot and captain being a trusted friend and business executive to Capt. Gordon C. Greene and the old GREENE LINE. My grandmother met/knew Jesse and wife Telia on the boats going way, way back along with the Edgington family. Jesse also managed a number of GREENE LINE wharfboats and facilities up and down the river owned by Capt. Greene. I knew Jesse, like you Jim, back in the 1950s when he was on the DQ and still living in Cincinnati up on Highland Avenue. Later it all came together with his daughter Helen Hughes Prater, son-in-law, Bernie etc. In later years I frequently saw him working on old steamboat photos, papers, ephemera for the Cincinnati Historical Society at their then library on campus of University of Cincinnati. Jesse also attended many river/steamboat meetings along with the Cincinnati chapter of The Steamship Historical Society of America at the main Cincinnati Public Library. One of his sayings was, "Your duty is always to duty." Thanks for the memories.

    R. Dale Flick
    From the northern shores of mighty Lake Michigan.

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