America’s most venerable inland shipyard to shut down after 184 years

America’s largest inland shipbuilder Jeffboat has announced it will be closing down after 184 years.

The yard based in Jeffersonville, Indiana, on the Ohio River has suffered a prolonged decline in orders and has already shed more than 80% of its workforce going from 1,300 to just 220 employees.

In its heyday during World War Two when it was named the Jefferson Boat & Machine Company, Navy business saw it employing 13,000 people.

It was the longest continually operated inland shipyard and the second-largest builder of barges.

After beginning life in 1834 as Howard Shipyards – named for founder James Howard – building steam-powered riverboats, the firm evolved over the years, going through name changes and altering its products.

In latter times it has been producing ocean-going vessels as well as inland barges and towboats.

The company’s final contracted builds are expected to be completed by the end of April.

Parent company American Commercial Lines (ACL) has not yet revealed what it will do with the 80-acre Jeffboat site.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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