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The steamboat Mountain Boy was one of six steamboats that moved West Virginia’s capital between 1870 and 1885. The boat was built on the Monongahela River at Brownsville, Pennsylvania, in 1868 on a hull 135 feet long, 26 feet wide, and four feet deep. It was built for J. W. Oakes, president of the Kanawha and Gallipolis Packet Co. The Mountain Boy was running regularly on the Kanawha and Ohio rivers when chartered to move the state capital from Wheeling to Charleston in 1870. There was no charge. When asked to perform this work, Captain James Newton agreed enthusiastically: ‘‘I will go with cannon, music and floating flags and will consider the honor sufficient pay.’’

On March 28, 1870, state officials with state records and property boarded the Mountain Boy for the trip south. They traveled from Wheeling down the Ohio to Point Pleasant, and then up the Kanawha River. As the Mountain Boy approached Charleston, the steamer Kanawha Belle with a brass band and reception committee welcomed the state capital to Charleston. In 1875, the state legislature voted to move the capital back to Wheeling after the citizens of that city offered to build the state a new and better capitol than the one being used in Charleston. Only in 1885 did the capital return permanently to Charleston, this time aboard the Chesapeake and the Belle Prince.

Meanwhile, the Mountain Boy had been destroyed by river ice at Cincinnati in December 1873.

This Article was written by Gerald W. Sutphin

Last Revised on August 12, 2014

Related Articles


Sutphin, Gerald W. & Richard A. Andre. Sternwheelers on the Great Kanawha River. Charleston: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1991.

Cite This Article

Sutphin, Gerald W. "Mountain Boy." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 12 August 2014. Web. 15 June 2024.


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