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DONALD B (Towboat)

Lamb, Indiana
County of Switzerland.
National Register Number: 89002458
Resource type: Structure.
Property type: Transportation - water -related. The threat level was Satisfactory in
Congressional District: IN-9 Certified Local Government: NO
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Current use/information: Active towboat.

Statement of Significance (as of designation - December 20, 1989):
Towboats have been an important component of the American transportation system since the 1850s, and have been used to move barges on all the navigable waters of the Western Rivers. Built in 1923, DONALD B. is the only known unchanged 1920s diesel sternwheel towboat left in the United States. Originally built for Standard Oil of Ohio and named STANDARD, she was that company's first towboat and inaugurated modern oil company river operations on the Ohio River. Sold and renamed in 1939, DONALD B. has spent her entire career in general barge towing on the Ohio and its tributaries, and has been maintained in operating condition, requiring only minor modifications over time.

This vessel has been removed from the threatened list in 2008.

In fall of 2007, the Indiana State Historic Preservation Office (DNR-DHPA) provided $21,000 of federal grant assistance ($16,000 from HPF + $5,000 from Midwest Office of NPS) for emergency repairs. In 2005, the operator of the vessel was denied renewal of the 5-year permit from the U.S. Coast Guard, which is required to allow members of the public aboard. Overall, the vessel is in extremely good condition. However, denial of the permit was due to the condition of the hull plating, which was in good condition on exterior surfaces, but corroded on interior surfaces. In some locations, the hull plating was found to be dangerously thin and capable of developing pinhole leaks, which could be catastrophic. The rehabilitation project included careful removal of more than 1,600 pounds of loose corrosion material and other items from the hull compartments. The financial assistance was used to inject Coast Guard-approved flotation foam inside eight hull compartments. This closed-cell foam lends additional strength and rigidity to the hull, provides guaranteed buoyancy because it will not absorb water if a leak develops, and halts further corrosion by bonding with the metal hull plating and structural members and protecting them from contact with oxygen and moisture. Further, this flotation foam has a service life of at least 20 years. The owner and operator plans to have the vessel re-inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard sometime in the summer of 2008 so that it can get a new permit to allow the public aboard, which will enable the vessel to once again generate enough revenue from modest boarding fees to cover day-to-day upkeep and fuel expenses.

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