You may wonder, what is a Wharfboat?  A Wharfboat was a floating warehouse found moored (tied-up) at a waterfront.  If you wanted to mail a letter, you took it to a Post Office.  If you wanted to send something by train, you took it to the Railroad’s Depot.  If you wanted to send an item by boat you took it to the Wharfboat where it was assigned to the next steamboat heading in that direction.  A “Bill of Lading” was filled out for the steamboat that would accept the consignment. 

CROCKARD & BOOTH STEAMBOAT AGENTS Wharfboat at Wheeling, West Virginia

Crowded Wheeling Wharf in 1900

Here in this photo of this book cover, we see a Crockard & Booth General Steamboat Agents Bill of Lading that explains it all.

Bills of Lading Freight on Board Wheeling, West Virginia book by John Bowman with photo of a 1906 Crockard & Booth General Steamboat Agents “Bill of Lading”

Steamboats docked daily at Wheeling’s Wharf and Wheeling’s Wharfboats.  Pictured are some of the Wharfboats that served Wheeling, Virginia and Wheeling, West Virginia.  Remembering that Wheeling, Virginia became Wheeling, West Virginia June 20, 1863.  The City’s Wharf Master kept the ‘Wharf Records’ recorded in a book showing the current date, the boats name, the Capt. Master or Clerks name, whether it was up-bound or down-bound, and the arrival time.  Steamboats porting at Wheeling were charged a wharfage fee of $3.00 per month, $1.50 per day was charged for the occasional tie-up.


In 1852, Baker & Woods, Steamboat Agents, (Baker, Samuel C. and Woods) on Water Street was succeeded in 1857-1858 by Baker, Samuel C. & Co., (List, John) Steamboat & Railway Agents, office in the wharfboat.

In 1853, Hamilton, J.M., had a wharfboat at the foot of Monroe Street.

Listed in 1859 is the steamboat agency of Booth, Battelle & Co., (Booth, Charles H. and Battelle, William ‘Billie’ G.) Steamboat Agents. 

John Crockard, born in Edinburg, Scotland July 15, 1847, came to America as a one year old.  He started his career during the Civil War working as a receiving and discharging clerk at the Booth, Battelle & Co.’s wharfboat.  John Crockard bought out the controlling interest of the steamboat agency upon the death of William Battelle, the agency becoming the Crockard & Booth, General Steamboat Agents, (Crockard, John and Booth, Capt. Charles H.).  With the death of Capt. Charles H. in 1884, John Crockard assumed control of the business with Charles’ son Frank Booth, forming the Crockard & Booth Co., having charge of all the wharf undertakings.  This was the very last wharfboat to serve Wheeling.

BOOTH BATTELLE & CO. STEAMBOAT AGENTS Wharfboat at the Wheeling Wharf in 1863
Model by John Bowman
CROCKARD & BOOTH STEAMBOAT AGENTS Wharfboat Model by John Bowman
LIBERTY LINE Wharfboat at Wheeling, West Virginia
This Ohio County Public Library Photo shows the “Steamers Verne Swain and Helen E. at Wheeling’s GENERAL WOOD Wharfboat in 1918”.


  1. Bills of Lading Freight On Board Wheeling, West Virginia by John Bowman 2012 book cover
  2. The Booth Battelle & Co. Steamboat Agents Wharfboat. 
  3. The Crockard & Booth Steamboat Agents Wharfboat. 
  4. The Liberty Line Wharfboat.  
  5. The General Wood Wharfboat.  This photo from the Ohio County Public Library shows the “Steamers Verne Swain and Helen E. at Wheeling’s Wharf in 1918”.  The photo shows the two steamers tied up to the General Wood Wharfboat and the Crockard & Booth Wharfboat.

Models of Wheeling Wharfboats by John Bowman:

  1. Booth Battelle & Co. Wharfboat at Wheeling during the Civil War   
  2. Crockard & Booth Wharfboat
  3. Liberty Line Wharfboat   

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