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Historical Society
To Restore River Boat
by Wat A. Croc

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Last Saturday, two anglers from Braxton County (who wish to remain anonymous because they were supposed to be at a corporate seminar) were on a float trip from Glenville to Creston when they made a remarkable discovery.

Across the river from the mouth of Steer Creek, they dropped anchor to hold position so they could spend a few hours fishing for some of the big muskie that hang around the area.

After four hours of feeding gar and turtles, and not seeing any muskie, they decided it was time to move on down the river and find a place to camp. When they tried to lift their anchor from the bottom, they found it was stuck. Since the river was relatively clear, and not too deep, one of them dove over the side to retrieve the valuable anchor.

As he followed the rope to the bottom, he found the anchor was stuck in a wooden structure of some kind.

He returned to the boat and had his fishing buddy turn on the sonar fish-finder to see if the shape and size of the anchor grabber could be determined. The object was 16 feet wide and 32 feet long. They finally retrieved the anchor, along with some of the boards it had been stuck in.

The boards had at one time been painted white. They could just make out the word “Iola” and beneath that in smaller lettering was “Grantsville, W.Va.” The anglers made their camp that evening at the industrial park, just above Grantsville, and hiked into town with the intention of eating at one of the restaurants, and seeing if anyone knew the story behind  the Iola.

While walking down Main Street, they happened to pass by the newly remodeled Family History Center during a meeting of Calhoun Historical Society.

They told their story to the society president, who was not only interested in the story, but also made arrangements with the two men to visit the site    for confirmation the next morning.

While it will take some time to secure funding for the project, the president said that the site is a unique historical find: “The Iola was tied up to a large sycamore tree just below Stumptown during a flood in the spring of 1924.

“Sometime during the night, the boat broke loose from its moorings and was never seen again. Until now, the Iola was nothing more than a footnote in history. We hope to bring her back to life for all to see and enjoy.”

Calhoun Historical Society is seeking federal funding to retrieve the boat piece by piece, along with any remaining contents, and restore it as best as they can for use as an exhibit showcasing how important Grantsville was to boat traffic and gasoline boat manufacturing in the earliest decades of the 20th century.

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