Ways Packet DirectoryWhen recently researching a ferry that operated between Wellsburg, West Virginia, and Brilliant, Ohio, I turned to my favorite resource on paddlewheelers: Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994 by Frederick Way, Jr.

Here’s a summary of the book, as noted by the publisher:

Containing almost 6,000 entries, the directory includes a majority of combination passenger and freight steamers, but includes in a broader sense all types of passenger carriers propelled by steam that plied the waters of the Mississippi System. Each entry describes its steamboat by rig, class, engines, boilers, the shipyard where and when built, along with tidbits of historical interest on its use, demise, and/or conversion.

For anyone interested in paddlewheelers, this is a must-have resource.

As for the ferry that had me reaching for my copy of Way’s Packet Directory, it was The New Era. The vessel was originally built as the side-wheeler Transit at Clarington, Ohio, in 1918. Converted to a stern-wheeler in 1922, it was renamed The New Era. The owner was the Wellsburg-Brilliant Bridge & Ferry Company. The boat was eventually sold to Lee Van Tilburg of Steubenville, Ohio. It sank at Brilliant on January 30, 1948.


The image from a postcard showing The New Era.