The River Captain


 

 

 

 

THE RIVER CAPTAIN

Author Unknown

As for legends along our waterways
Here is one that still persists
The Ohio has a riverman
Long dead who can’t resist
watching as the boats go by
up and down the river

“Beneath the knobs in Indiana
Where the sunset splendors wane
Stares a captain through the porthole
Of his grave say rivermen
Watching as the boats go by
Up and down the river”

Through sunshine, rain, and snowstorm
‘Tis said he’s standing there
Staring through the porthole
Of his grave and taking care
Watching as the boats go by
Up and down the river

Sixty years he plowed the waters
Having died long long ago
Buried standing at Beeler’s landing
Above the water far below
Watching as the boats go by
Up and down the river
Down from Pittsburgh to New Orleans
Every captain, every hand
They watch they know he’s watching
Watching as the boats go by
Up and down the river

Offshore buoys guiding
Boat and barges passing ‘tween
A treacherous stretch of shallows
Here ’tis said he can be seen
Watching as the boats go by
Up and down the river

As the boat and barge
com ’round the bend
The boatmen hear him Yell
“Woooh, you’ll turn ’em up on ends
Move out where the currents swell
Watching as the boats go by
Up and down the river

Every time you hear the whistle
Of a boat sound o’er the wave
You can know the pilot’s answering
The Captain standing in his grave
Watching as the boats go by
Up and down the river

LEGEND OF THE RIVER CAPTAIN
Mr. Hulme was the first superintendent of the canal (what is now the McAlpine Locks and Damn) and Frank McHarry took the tonnage. Upon the death of Mr. Hulme, Frank McHarry was appointed superintendent. In the beginning the receipts of the tonnage were turned into the treasury once a year. A settlement was made every six months and then it was demanded every Monday morning.

McHarry refused to the added pressure and work that this added. He resigned and became very bitter.

He made a request that he would be buried in the Indiana knobs overlooking the Ohio River where his ghost would roam. He had a vault carved in solid stone on a hillside with a porthole in the top. Rumor has it that he was buried standing up to look out of the porthole onto the boats that would pass.

He was to have put a curse on all the boats that passed his burial site.

He was later moved to Cave Hill Cemetery. Superstition has it that on dark nights you are able to see a silver trail in the sky as his ghost returns to visit his vault. Sulphrous fumes also are said to fill the air as his ghost travels back to Cave Hill Cemetery before dawn.
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