Steamboat Building in Elizabeth, PA

A Journal of daily activities at the Elizabeth Marine Ways 1898 to 1925 

1934 Centennial

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Elizabeth PA Centennial Parades 1934 from Steamboat Building on Vimeo.


The celebration of the 100th anniversary of the town of Elizabeth, PA,which includes a Riverboat parade and a Street parade, took place from July 2 to July 4, 1934. The two parades were filmed using the technology of the day, probably a 16mm movie camera. Sometime during the 1990s two Elizabeth men, Al Zadroga and Vincent Volpi, converted this film to video tape and included a narrative description by Mr. Volpi. In 2002 I received a copy of the video tape from Bill Stintson, a life-long riverman from Elizabeth. A final upgrade was accomplished when this video tape was converted to a digital file in 2004 by my son, Jeff Mohney, and then placed onto CDs / DVDs. In 2009 Jeff converted the digital file to a format that allowed it to be posted on the Internet. This is the digital file of the video tape,which was originally a 16 mm movie taken in 1934. You will view over twenty minutes of Steamboats, a fantastic sight, and then about fifteen minutes of the street parade with many of the citizens of 1934 Elizabeth identified by the narrator.

The video can be viewed by clicking on the play arrow that appears on the lower left corner of the viewing screen above or by clicking on the first link on the left under the viewing screen. In either case, the video needs a few minutes to load after hitting the play buttons since it is 37 minutes long. The total time to load the complete video will depend on the type of connection, phone modem or cable, that you use but you can view it while it is being downloaded. The quality of this video, which is 75 years old when posted on this site, suffers from not only age but also being at best a fourth generation--original film to video tape and then a copy of a copy. With each generation comes a drop in quality. If anyone has knowledge about the existence of the original film or one of the original video tapes, please contact me. I would like to use today's technology to create a new digital copy and hopefully a better quality video. Email me at  jwmohney "at" comcast "dot" net      Please change "at" to @ and "dot" to .

The video above was posted onto  message board by a friend, it was then viewed by an individual interested in and knowledgeable of calliopes, Jon Tschiggfrie,  and he edited the video down to those portions containing calliope music and also wrote the following:


I can't be sure, but I would bet that this video is a contender for the earliest moving picture recording of a steam calliope! I've taken the liberty of cutting together all of the calliope audio and video clips from the 37-minute video into a short 5-minute video available at YouTube - Steam calliope clips - Elizabeth, PA. The narrator claims that the calliope player is either Leroy or Bill Morris. Any idea who these gentlemen might be?

Equally interesting are the various calliope audio recordings that were spliced into the narration. At one point, the recording sounds a lot like Doc's rendition of "Beautiful Dreamer" from side 2 of the 1961 LP album "Here Comes the Showboat." The other instances sound as if there are some makeshift percussion instruments accompanying what sounds like an air calliope. Any thoughts?

A little history on this particular instrument from the video: It was built sometime in the 1920s by the ubiquitous Thomas J. Nichol firm of Cincinnati. The towboat R. J. HESLOP (seen in the video) only carried the calliope for one day, on July 2, 1934 for the Elizabeth, PA Centennial celebration and steamboat parade. The instrument dates back at least five years, when it was originally installed aboard the sixth QUEEN CITY (Way's #4615) sometime between 1926 and 1929. The QUEEN CITY probably carried the instrument through the 1933 season, when the packet became a wharfboat in Pittsburgh. At any rate, the calliope made its way to the tow I. LAMONT HUGHES, which carried this instrument in early 1934 for the "Century Tow." From there, it was installed briefly on the R. J. HESLOP before ending up in the AMERICA circus wagon, which now resides in working order at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI. It is one of the only remaining operable Nichol instruments with tracker action.

The link to the site containing the edited video tape is in the narrative above and also below:


Back of 1934 Elizabeth Centennial Badge   Close up of back of badge    Front of 1934 Elizabeth Centennial Badge  Close up of front of badge


Badge worn at the 1934 Elizabeth Centennial Celebration, July 1 to 4.


July 4, 1934   Street Parade


Rockwell Motors car photo was on display at Red Lion Restaurant in Elizabeth, PA.          added 5/11/17

The photo above on left is of the Rockwell Motors car that was part of the old time cars that helped to lead the street parade.  The other two photos are screen grabs of the movie that was taken of the parade, the quality of the movie is poor but the hat being worn by the driver is easily seen to help identify the Rockwell car.


The Baptist Church Float....from the collection of Laura King    From the collection of Laura King     

The two photos above were taken prior to the start of the parade at the field in front of the Safe Factory, the smoke stack can be seen in the background of both photos.  This is in the vicinity of today's Wylie Field.  The photo on the left shows the Elizabeth Baptist Church float.  The photo on the right shows in the foreground a "Elizabeth Lodge" without a more specific identification. On the banner can be seen a "K" and a "P" along with the numbers "444" and also "F G".  This was a very hot day and these men were dressed in what appears to be heavy robes with hats, with some wearing wigs.  In the background is a float with nurses and the sign reading "Charity Services Hosp."  The sign reading "Nights" appears to be on a third float.   Additional information on these floats is appreciated.


Parade 1934 Centennial  Elizabeth, PA   From collection of Glenn Myers   Parade 1934 Elizabeth Centennial   From collection of Glenn Myers

These two photos show the parade coming up McKeesport Road in the vicinity of Church Street.

From collection of Kirk and Tetta Hall  From collection of Kirk and Tetta Hall  From collection of Kirk and Tetta Hall 

These three photos above, from the collection of Kirk and Tetta Lynch Hall, show the American Legion float  from the parade.  Kirk's father, Ellis, and Tetta's father Dan Lynch, along with JW's son Mickey ( McKown) Lynch were on this float.  All of the men on the float were painted to give the impression of statues, they stood still during most of the parade route.

Elizabeth Pa Parade 1934   American Legion Float  From collection of Glenn Myers

The photo above shows the American Legion Float with Dan Lynch talking to a spectator along the parade route. In the lower right hand corner of this picture is Glenn Meyers father, his mother, Gladys, can be seen to the right of his father and his cousin Betty Callahan is in front of Glenn's father looking back.


July 2, 1934   River Boat Parade


View a display of photos from the 1934 Elizabeth Centennial Riverboat parade
These photos are from a display donated to the Monongahela River Museum by the family of Captain Robert Eberhart and is located at the Elizabeth Township Historical Society.

Read the program for the 1934 Centennial 
This link takes you to a page on the Elizabeth Boro web site maintained by Richard Rattinni and has the day by day list of activities along with every name that was involved with this community wide event.

A Blog with more details on the 1934 Centennial....Blog entries of July 1st thru 4th, 2012


 Collection of William Fels Collection of William Fels Collection of William Fels

These three photos show the dock area for the boats that were in the River Boat Parade.


 Boats on Parade


  Steamer CRUISER  Collection of William Fels  Steamer LA BELLE   Collection of William Fels

Steamer PENNOVA with Naval Reserve Yacht in front, photo from collection of Monongahela River Buffs   Close up of Naval Reserve Yacht from collection of Monongahela River Buffs  

Boats preparing for the parade, photo appears to have been taken from another boat.  Steamer CRUISER

Steamer J. H. HILLMAN  Looking down from the Elizabeth Bridge

These four photos of the 1934 riverboat Parade in Elizabeth, PA were taken by Gladys A. Kettering (nee: Bucy) and sent to me by her son Robert.


From collection of Lois Lynch, my mother.

A view of the 1934 River Parade from one of the boats.


Steamer R.J. HESLOP     Photo Taken July 2, 1934        R.J. HESLOP brief history from 'Ways Steam Towboat Directory"

The photo of the Steamer R.J. HESLOP is from the collection of George Churchwell, nephew of Captain John M. Hysmith.  Captain Hysmith owned the R.J. HESLOP in 1934 when this photo was taken. This photo shows the R.J. HESLOP on July 2, 1934 boarding passengers on the West Elizabeth, PA side of the Monongahela River , Elizabeth, PA is in the background.  The R.J. HESLOP is preparing to lead a Riverboat Parade in commemoration of Elizabeth's 100th birthday, note the sign on the boat and the calliope player on the top deck.

The brief history of the R.J. HESLOP is from the "Ways Steam Towboat Directory" written by Fred Ways JR.


This Article about the 1934 Parade and Captain Hysmith appeared in the September 1985 issue of S & D Reflector.

OK CHAPTER REPORT        Monongahela River Movie

by James A. Wallen


Fifteen of the sternwheel towboats that were active in the Pittsburgh pools
and beyond, paraded on the movie screen before the 45 who attended the meeting
of the OK Chapter of S&D on Sunday, June 2nd, in the Mason County Library at
Point Pleasant, WV.

All of the boats were seen as they moved in the procession celebrating the 100th
anniversary of the town of Elizabeth, PA on the Monongahela River on July 2, 1934. It
took place in an era when there was constant towboat activity in the Pittsburgh pools
as tows of coal, steel, sand and gravel and other products were always under way so
the boats seen in the parade were familiar to many of those in the audience who had
boated on the Upper Ohio.

Leading the parade was Capt. John Hysmith's steamer R. J. HESLOP, which had been
equipped with a calliope for the occasion, and it was followed by such well known
steamers as the I. LAMONT HUGHES, A. 0. ACKARD, CRUISER, J. H. HILLMAN, A.
diesel-powered boat in the parade was the sternwheeler MARY ALICE.

Many of the steamers were loaded with passengers, well dressed in the style of the day
(white shoes, white ducks and straw boaters), and all obviously enjoying the festivities.
Many of those most prominent in Pittsburgh river affairs at that time were on hand; Capt.
J. L. Howder was chairman of the river parade committee and Capt. Bob Eberhart was
commander of the fleet.

Before beginning the showing, Capt. Charles Henry Stone, who presided at the
meeting, gave a brief sketch of the admirable career of Capt. John Hysmith, owner and
captain of the R. J. HESLOP, the boat that headed the parade at Elizabeth.
As he watched the following boats, black smoke rolling from their stacks and cascades
of white water pouring from sternwheels, Capt. Hysmith must have had some
satisfaction in looking back over the difficult earlier years of his life when he was helping
his father dig mussels and catch fish on the Lower Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee
rivers, a period when he lived on the family's large houseboat at Metropolis, IL.
At the age of 15, Jack Hysmith was in charge of a large log raft being floated down
the Tennessee River, but soon thereafter he became "striker pilot" on a steamboat at
a salary of $14 a month. It was just a year or so later that his father died, so young
Hysmith undertook the task -of looking after his mother, two sisters and a brother. After
selling their large, two-story houseboat at Metropolis, Jack moved the family to
Pittsburgh and took a job as fireman on the steamer WILLIAM G. CLYDE.
Jack Hysmith became a mate, eventually gained a pilot's license, and at the age
of 30 years he had accumulated the sum of $45 to offer as down payment on the
purchase of the steamer R. J. HESLOP. The boat's owner, William F. Campbell,
correctly judged Jack Hysmith's characteristics of energy, sobriety and honesty and
turned the boat over to him. Within six months Jack had paid for the R. J. HESLOP
in full, continuing to support his mother and pay for the education of his two sisters
and younger brother. "What better kind of career could you have?" asked Capt.
Stone. In later years Capt. Hysmith owned and operated the Dravo-built diesel
sternwheeler SEWICKLEY.

A guest aboard Capt. Hysmith's R. J. HESLOP during the parade at Elizabeth was
the man for whom the boat was named, Col. Bob Heslop of Point Pleasant, who not
only ran a machine shop that performed much work for steamboats but who also
helped rivermen in many other ways over the years.

Thanks for being able to show the film were extended to Ed Smith of Pittsburgh,
who had loaned it to Bob Bosworth for copying. As a fortunate coincidence, Jack
Loomis came forth at just the right time with a good story on the parade by Capt.
Donald T. Wright which appeared in the Waterways Journal of July 7, 1934.


These are the articles that appeared in the July 7, 1934 edition of "The Waterways Journal" as mentioned above.

1934 Elizabeth River Parade    1934 Elizabeth River Parade Flagship Owner    1934 Elizabeth River Parade Photo  


If you have photos taken during the 1934 Elizabeth Centennial and would be willing to share them please contact me at     jwmohney "at"    Not a clickable email address, change "at" to @

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