By BISHOP NASH, The Herald-Dispatch
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — For the river towns in America’s heartland that came of age in the 19th Century, the steamboats that dominated the inland river systems at the time hold a particular place in their collective histories.
Huntington, founded in 1871 at the height of the steamboat era, derives its “Jewel City” moniker from a nickname riverboat pilots christened it at the height of the age.
Before rail lines branched into deeper hollows, the river was the only reliable means to ship freight and humans into Appalachia. Many with long-established roots in the Tri-State can still trace back to an ancestor or several who first arrived in the area on a riverboat. …