By Connor Kurek
During mid-September, 12 colorful sternwheelers—riverboats steered by large wooden wheels with paddles attached at the stern—docked in Meigs County. They were the historic backdrop for the 39th annual Pomeroy Sternwheel Regatta. The three-day festival, which began on Sept. 19 on the levee by Main Street, was a free-living outdoor museum for visitors. But for boatowners like Lou and Linda Wendell, pictured below with a fellow boater, regatta season provided plenty of rest and relaxation. These boats are icons from another era; their narrow design made them crucial to early commerce on the Ohio River since they could fit through tight, shallow waterways. The sternwheelers in Pomeroy ranged five to a hundred years old. One, pictured on the right, even lodged Al Capone.
The interior of the Rufus B. II contains photos from past owners and awards from countless regattas. Its living room retains its ’60s redesign: the walls are mahogany, and the ceiling is redwood. Within those mahogany walls, American gangster and businessman Al Capone was entertained by the boat’s original owner, Attorney Carl Lamback, Lou says. Lamback defended Capone in court. During its time in the hands of five different owners, the Rufus B. II has traveled over 40,000 miles of rivers.