Tulsa Poster Presentations: Excavation of the Steamboat Heroine

Posted on: October 22nd, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Preservation Conference is this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Staff members from around the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be blogging from the conference and sharing their experiences. Priya Chhaya, program assistant for training & online services in the Center for Preservation Leadership, is in the Exhibit Hall checking out the poster presentations.

Bright colors and conversation surround you when you walk through the Exhibit Hall here in Tulsa. Conference-goers seem to be holding up despite the turn in the weather -- rain-rain-and more rain! People are darting to field and education sessions and attending the twice daily nosh and networking periods in the hall and most of them are smiling. On Tuesday night we got a taste of Oklahoma history at the special lecture by Dr. Bob Blackburn (we were in the gorgeous First Presbyterian Church which is just one of the architectural vistas here in Tulsa). We learned about the state’s unique preservation story and the great work that they are doing to preserve and embrace the various pasts.

Poster on the preservation of the "Heroine."

It was with this in mind that I started wandering through the poster presentations. As I took in the landscape I came across John Davis and Bob Rea of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Their poster, “Excavation and Preservation of the Steamboat Heroine” is a detailed look at their work to preserve the only underwater archaeological site in Oklahoma.

The earliest example of steamboat technology in the United States, the Heroine was built in New Albany, Indiana in 1832 and “transported freight, livestock and passengers on the Ohio, Mississippi and Red Rivers.” In May 1838 the boat got stuck in a snag two miles down from a public landing on the upper Red River and sank.

Bob and John have been working on the boat since 1999 -- working underwater for eight weeks at a time. If you’re in Tulsa visit their poster in the Exhibit Hall. If you aren’t, more information on the Heroine can be found at www.okhistory.org or www.ohs.org.

-- Priya Chhaya

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