A PAINTING, "Sunfish," on loan from the Ohio Historical Society, is one of the highlights in the Ohio River Valley Museum, which will open in Clarington Saturday for the season.
The painting is by Charles Sullivan, an important Ohio artist during the 19th century.
"I think this painting is of Clarington," said Barbara Rush, executive director of the museum. "Sunfish was the original name of this area."
Sullivan, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1794, studied with Thomas Sully, an artist based in Philadelphia, and later opened his own studio in that city. He moved in 1827 to Wheeling, which then was part of Virginia, and then to Marietta in 1833.
According to Ohio History Central, "In Wheeling and Marietta, Sullivan became especially well known for his landscapes. His river scenes focused mainly on the Ohio River. He also made a number of paintings of Indian earthworks, especially in the vicinity of Marietta."
Rush said the main gallery in the museum features examples of various types of riverboats, such as packet boats, keelboats, steamboats and towboats. One room is dedicated to showboats and includes a vaudeville trunk.
Another room features the Clarington/Sunfish boat builders.
New this year is an area incorporating the history of the former Lock 14 and Lock 15 and how the new Hannibal Locks and Dam literally changed the river. Those at the museum have been working on photos showing the Hannibal Locks and Dam and the area it replaced.
"Clarington Memories," which also serves as a conference room, is another room in the museum.
The museum isn't limited to items from Clarington. It has a signboard and a life jacket from the Delta Queen, the famed American sternwheel steamboat that is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
Recently acquired by the museum were the William Roush journals, which are exhibited in a display case. Rush said the 12 handwritten journals, which were written by Roush, 1846-1918, a Sykes Ridge resident, were given to the museum by the Monroe County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. She is hopeful the small notebooks can be transcribed.
Clarington has a long history as it was settled in the late 1790s and incorporated in 1847. Its corporation sign notes it was the site of the Mozena and Cook Boatyards and was the birthplace of J. Mack Gamble.
A former principal of the Clarington Elementary School, Gamble was a historian, author and educator. He was the first president of the Sons and Daughters or Pioneer Rivermen. His father owned packet boats operating in the Upper Ohio River in the late 19th century and first decade of the 20th century.
Though Gamble worked briefly as a packet boat clerk before attending college, his life's work was as an educator. He had a master's degree in education and history from Ohio University, Athens.
Rush said the hours for the museum during the Clarington Sunfish Creek Festival Saturday and Sunday will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The new book, "A Boat in the Attic," will be signed by the authors, Rush and Jane Stratton, at the museum.
The museum will be open June 9 through Labor Day with the hours being 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays (when volunteers are available).
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