Steer Creek Boats Recalled in 1970


Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 1/8/1970.

Gasoline Boats Once Operated on Steer Creek
By Treacy Jane Stump

There is much controversy and disbelief about gasoline boats operating on Steer Creek, especially with people who have not lived in the Steer Creek Valley.  Fifty years or longer ago, gasoline boats traveled up and down Steer Creek.  I know it is hard to believe when one visits the Steer Creek Valley today, but what I am writing is true as I remember it.

The first boat I remember was the "Paul S."  It was built by Sylvester Stump and members of his family, and named for his grandson who lived with him.  (Paul now lives on part of the large Stump farm at the mouth of Raccoon on Steer Creek in Calhoun Co.)  The elder Stump lived at Stumptown where he operated a store and was postmaster, in addition, to the farm he operated in Calhoun County.

Another boat on the waters of Steer Creek was "Stumps of Dodrill."  It was built and operated by Levi Stump and his sons, who were Victor, Robert, and John.  I presume it was named for the owners and his postoffice at that time, Dodrill.  This postoffice has long been forgotten.  It was located most of the time in a building near the Rush Run Baptist Church with Mrs. Nellie "Dock: Stump as postmaster.  As I remember, Victor piloted the boat, and the other boys were helpers.

Another gasoline boat that was short-lived in the valley was the "Iola" which Sull Stump purchased for the sum of $175 about 1918 or 1919.  He did well with it for a few months, but by then the novelty wore off.  During a flood, it got loose from its harbor and was destroyed.

During winter months, it was nothing unusual to see these boats traveling up and down Steer Creek as far up as Stumptown.  The oil companies and the merchants all along the valley had their wares brought in by boat.  Their only concern was the "shoals" where the water was shallow and very swift making it difficult to get over, and at times boats would have to dock.

They did this at the John Fogle place just below Russett.  Boatsmen referred to it as "Mouth of Creek" not Russett.  That is where Steer Creek meets the Little Kanawha.  Mr. Fogle, his wife, Susanna, and four sons, Lan, Lee, Lynn, and Harry lived there.  Harry the youngest son, still lives in the old home.

John Fogle watched over boats and saw their cargo was properly cared for, while his wife saw to it no one was hungry.  Mrs. Fogle was the daughter of Alexander "Dock" and Katherine Godfrey Stump.

There were other boats, but these three I remember best.