OUS hosts premiere of ‘Saving the Snyder’

Published 10:08 am Monday, March 14, 2011

Documentary chronicles renovation of 100-year-old steamboat

After traveling 146 miles from Marietta to South Point in November of 2009, then back to Marietta again in September 2010, the W.P. Snyder Jr. steamboat is resting after some major renovations.

To celebrate the history of the nearly 100-year-old steamboat and the work that went into renovating its hull and paddle wheel, WOUB-TV will hold a screening of its documentary “Saving the Snyder,” which documents the boat’s journey to the McGinnis shipyards, its partial restoration and its history.

“I really like doing historical documentaries,” said Cheri Russo, WOUB’s news managing editor and documentary producer. “I liked the challenge to make a really old boat the focus of the story.”

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Indeed the W.P. Snyder Jr. steamboat has a long history, dating back to 1918, when it was built by the Carnegie Steel Company. The 341-ton boat towed coal, iron and steel on the Monongahela River until 1953 and was given to the Ohio Historical Society by Crucible Steel Company in 1955 for exhibit at the Ohio River Museum in Marietta.

In 1989, the boat was named national historic landmark.

If something wasn’t done to renovate the great boat’s hull, there wouldn’t be a landmark left afloat.

“It was in danger of sinking because of damage,” Russo said. “They did everything they could to do to save it. The McGinnis guys did a tremendous job. Now everyone can breathe a sigh of relief.”

The renovations to the hull and paddle wheel took about $1.4 million.

“Saving the Snyder” will premiere on May 13 in Marietta at Washington State Community College’s Harvey Graham Auditorium and May 14 at Ohio University Southern in Ironton. Both events begin at 7 p.m. and are open to the public. Tickets for the event are $10 and will be sold at the door. Proceeds will benefit the WOUB Center for Public Media and the Ohio Historical Society’s future renovations of the W.P. Snyder Jr.

Russo said she encourages Ironton and Lawrence County residents to attend the screening.

“There is so much that that area has to do with the rivers and the community is so connected. The boat is a crucial part of the story,” she said. “It’s about their past.”

Phase II of the renovations will be in completing the remaining renovations above deck and will be funded in part by a Transportation Enhancement grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation, with matching funds to be raised by the Ohio Historical Society, including money raised from the screenings of the documentary.