LA BELLE Towboat
1921 – 1951
Lā Belle pronounced with a long a
Authentic Steam Towboat Model by John Bowman
The hull for the stern-wheel towboat Lā Belle was built at the Howard Yard, Jeffersonville, Indiana and she was completed at the Elizabeth, Pennsylvania Boat Yard in 1921 for Wheeling Steel Corporation. Her four boilers and engines were built at the James Rees Shop in Pittsburgh. The La Belle was built to the low profile Rees design, aka poolboat style as many of her contemporaries were. These towboats were designed with their pilothouse built at the forward end of the boiler deck rather than on the hurricane deck or roof and her stacks were also hinged which allowed these towboats to easily navigate under the Monongahela River’s low bridges. La Belle rammed the Monitor towboat and sank her on the Monongahela River in 1925. The Armstrong’s Monitor Towboat and Lumber Company of Wheeling, W. Va., owned her. La Belle regularly towed coal out of the Monongahela to Wheeling Steel’s Follansbee, Steubenville and Mingo Jct. plants. Wheeling Steel sold her in 1945 to Zubik Towing Co. who renamed her Edw. Smith. In 1947, she was sold to the Hillman Transportation Co. of Pittsburgh and renamed A.B. Sheets; the second so named and was dismantled at Brownsville, Pennsylvania in June of 1951.