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NOTE: Ohio Memory recently upgraded to a new site! The new site contains all of the old images, as well as nearly 50,000 new items. To access the old site, including your saved “My Scrapbooks,” go to

The mission of the Ohio Memory Project is to provide access to historical treasures of Ohio, bringing together primary sources from all parts of the state in an online scrapbook that:

  • celebrates state and local history
  • encourages cooperation between archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, and other cultural organizations
  • allows the global community to discover and explore Ohio’s rich past


Ohio Memory Project
Ohio Historical Society
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Columbus, Ohio 43211

Phone: (614) 297-2576
Fax: (614) 297-2546

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  1. mesabi77
    Posted on: 10-21-2012


    As someone who has worked on the Steamship WILLIAM G. MATHER since 2003, I was very happy to see your photo from her old engine room pop up in my Google Alerts. I should point out, however, that the metadata for the image is not quite accurate. The title and description both state that the subject is a “coal passer”. In fact, he is a fireman.

    The coal passers’ duty was to shuttle back and forth from the coal bunker to the firehold, delivering wheelbarrow loads of coal for the firemen. The firemen were the crew members who did the work of feeding the boilers. Firing on boats like the MATHER was difficult work; firemen needed to shovel enough coal into the boiler to maintain steam pressure, but care had to be taken to not smother the fires with too much coal. Also, firemen had to “pull” the fires on a regular basis. Pulling fires involved removing ash and clinkers from the firebox. If this waste material was not removed, the flow of oxygen in the firebox would be impeded. So again, the firemen had a much more extensive job than the coal passers.

    In the case of the MATHER, two firemen were needed on every watch to keep her three boilers happy. A coal passer was assigned to each duo of firemen to round out the “black gang”. As you correctly point out, the coal passer position was eliminated after the engine room refit of 1953/’54. The new boiler also spelled the end for one of the firemen on each watch. And, once the Bailey 760 was installed in 1964, the last fireman spot was gone as well.

    Thanks for posting the picture and thanks for preserving Ohio’s history!

    Matt Grabski, MA, MLIS
    WILLIAM G. MATHER Guest Services Supervisor

    • Ohio Memory
      Posted on: 10-23-2012

      Hello Matt,

      We really appreciate the information you’ve provided to help ensure that the images we have of the Mather Steamship are correctly described. The metadata for the image has been updated to identify the worker as a fireman, and to provide a bit more context about the position itself. To see more images that were originally submitted by the Steamship William G. Mather Museum, try the link below:

      We’re glad to work with organizations like yours to make these images available, and are always glad for feedback from others who are passionate about Ohio history. Thanks!

      Lily Birkhimer
      Assistant Curator, Digital Services

  2. jimandmary
    Posted on: 7-16-2012

    One of the pictures in your collection is of the Uhl Hatchery in New Washington, Ohio. In the text under the picture it is identified erroneously as a ‘fish hatchery’. It was actually an egg hatchery – the very first in the United States! Another first for the Uhl Hatchery was the first shipment of baby chicks by rail. Chicks by the tens of thousands were shipped through the post office there.

    Jim Joseph
    Tierra Verde, Florida

    • Ohio Memory
      Posted on: 7-17-2012

      Hi Jim,

      Thank you for the correction! The record for this item has been updated to reflect this interesting piece of Ohio history, and we appreciate the contribution to ensuring the accuracy of information on Ohio Memory. For those who are interested, you can find out more about the Village of New Washington on Remarkable Ohio,
      Marker #7-17!

      Lily Birkhimer
      Assistant Curator, Digital Services

  3. Posted on: 5-14-2012

    I am one of the administrators of the informational webpage History of Akron & Summit County, dealing with the facebook and blog side of it.
    One of our readers, Chris Faircloth, posted a picture from Ohio Memory on our facebook page. Photograph SA1039AV_B01F02_011_001 is titled “Unpaved Street in Akron, Ohio.” It does not have a location on it, and he asked if myself or any of the other readers could identify it. The only identifying feature in the picture is a large black object in the background. I thought that it looked like a cooling tower but also thought it was dated to early for anything like that. Mark Price writes a weekly local history column here for the Akron Beacon Journal. He said that they were possibly the cooling towers for the refrigeration/freezer units at the Miller Rubber Company. On that hint I used the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps from that era found the towers and was able to pin point the location.
    The picture was taken at the intersection of Stanton and Curtis streets looking south. Best I can tell the time period is right. I would estimate the late 1930s.

    Thanks for all the GREAT pictures,

    Rodney Johnson

    • Ohio Memory
      Posted on: 5-14-2012

      Hi Rodney,

      Thanks for your help in identifying this image! We’ve added the information you provided to the item record so that other users may have an easier time finding it. This photograph was taken by workers with the Federal Writers’ Project of the WPA in the late 30s/early 40s, to be included as part of the Ohio Guide series. Because many of the images in this collection have minimal identification, we are grateful to users who can contribute by identifying items from their local community. FYI, future feedback can also be submitted to Thanks again, and we hope you continue to enjoy the digital collections!

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