Pilot the Potomac Home

The Steamboat Era Museum is proud to include among its collection the largest surviving artifact of the Chesapeake Bay steamboat era—the pilot house from the steamboat Potomac.

The Potomac was built in 1894 by Neafie & Levy in Philadelphia. She was 176 feet long and 41 feet at the beam with 37 staterooms and 36 crew. She served 42 years in freight and passenger service, initially between Baltimore and the Potomac River and later, under different ownership, between Baltimore and Norfolk, including stops up the Rappahannock River.

In February 1936 the Potomac was forced into retirement after a collision with a freighter in icy waters. In 1938 the Potomac was sold to Colona Shipyard in Berkley, Virginia, at which time it was disassembled and made into a barge to haul pulpwood for the paper plant in West Point. The pilot house was saved and used as a cottage in Colonial Beach for many years.

The pilot house is now shrinkwrapped and awaiting the day when it can be returned to its home at The Steamboat Era Museum, fully restored for all to see. The restored pilot house will be the only place in America where visitors and researchers can step aboard the last surviving deck of a Chesapeake Bay steamboat.

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