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Mayor Andrew Broaddus, ex. Life-Saving Station No. 10
National Historic Landmark Study
by Kevin Foster, 1989
Designated June 30, 1989

Present and Historic Physical Appearance

Mayor Andrew Broaddus, September 14, 1971. Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard.
Mayor Andrew Broaddus (ex-Life-Saving Station No. 10),is a floating former Coast Guard life-saving station usually moored at the foot of Fourth Street, on the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky. Broaddus now serves as the wharfboat, housing offices and shops for the city's other historic vessel, Belle of Louisville.

Broaddus has a two deck superstructure atop a rectangular scow form hull. This superstructure follows the design of most life- saving stations with bays for two lifeboats at one end. The hull is constructed of riveted-steel plates and the superstructure is constructed of wood over a steel frame.[1]


Broaddus was built of heavy steel plates, double-riveted to steel angle frames. The hull measures 98 feet long, with a 38-foot beam and a 5.5-foot maximum draft.[2] The hull has a scow form bow, a flat bottom with no external keel, and a stern with two boat
wells set in the middle. The starboard boat well was decked over in the 1950s by the Coast Guard and the port well was decked over in 1972 by the City of Louisville. Internally, Broaddus is divided into several watertight compartments by one longitudinal and several athwartships bulkheads. The hull contains a boiler for hot water and heating, and several water tanks.


The superstructure of Broaddus has two decks and a lookout tower. The superstructure is framed in steel and planked in wood. Steel pipe stanchions support a walkway around the second deck and the eaves of the roof. The roof is built with a pronounced crown athwartships.

The passageways on deck, and around the second deck are narrow and have pipe rails. Crew members could easily walk from one end of the station to the other by way of outside passageways to port and starboard. Inside the station, passage is much more restricted. Crew members ascended to the decks and lookout tower above by a spiral stairway in the center of the boat.

Main Deck

Mayor Andrew Broaddus, September 14, 1971. Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard.
The main deck is at the level of the steel deck of the barge. Linoleum and carpeted floor coverings cover the steel deck inside of the station structure, except in the present shop area where the deck is painted steel. One narrow end was fitted with two boat wells which extended into the station and allowed the lifeboats to be pulled out of the weather. One boat well was closed up by the Coast Guard in the 1950s and the other was decked over in 1972 by the City. This area serves as a crew lounge and shop area. Offices and a locker room occupy the remainder of the main deck.

Second Deck

The second deck houses cabins, a kitchen and dining area, and storage rooms. The crew berthed in a single large dormitory, with doors opening both to an inside hallway and to the deck outside. Officers were quartered in individual cabins. One of these contains the walk-in small arms storage locker. The double-hung sash windows are covered by wire screens. A covered walkway runs around the house on the second deck.

Lookout Tower

The lookout tower rises about 15 feet above the center of the roof. It is surrounded by a walkway and by sliding windows which can be moved for clearer visibility. Chairs were not allowed in this space to assure watchfulness while on duty. A lookout was on duty 24 hours and was required to actuate a time clock at intervals to prove wakefulness.[3]

Present Appearance of Mayor Andrew Broaddus

The City of Louisville and the crew of Belle of Louisville maintain Broaddus in fine condition. Alterations to the interior since the city has owned the boat have been only those necessary to make the best use of her. Areas not needed immediately, such as most of the second deck, have not been touched. Broaddus shows signs of wear, unavoidable in boats her age, but outwardly is in fine condition.


1. Dennis L. Noble, A Legacy: The United States Life-Saving Service (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Coast Guard, 1988) pp. 9-10.

2. Norman J. Brouwer, International Register of Historic Ships (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1985) p. 253.

3. Logbook, Louisville Life-Saving Station, National Archives Record Group 26, Records of the United States Coast Guard, "Logbooks 1828-1941," Logbooks for 1928-1934, passim.

Statement of Significance

The United States Life-Saving Service was established in 1848 to rescue and provide aid to shipwrecked mariners. Life-saving stations were established around the country near dangerous waters. The first such life-saving station on the Western Rivers was established at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1881 to guard the treacherous Falls of the Ohio River. Mayor Andrew Broaddus (Broaddus) is the direct descendant of that station and is the only floating life-saving station extant and one of very few remaining U.S. Life-Saving Service lifeboat stations of any kind in the United States.[1] Broaddus is now a wharf boat owned by the City of Louisville and holds the offices for the Steamboat Belle of Louisville. Broaddus, plays an important part in the cultural, technological, and historical heritage of the Ohio and in the entire Western Rivers system. Broaddus is of great importance in the maritime and humanitarian history of the nation.

The preceding statement of significance is based on the more detailed statements that follow.

The Development of Western Rivers Watercraft

The Western Rivers system, composed of the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, and other tributary Rivers, carried most of the immigrants and freight that settled the Midwest. Starting in the late 1700s, most settlers travelled from the East Coast overland to Pittsburgh, Wheeling, or Redstone and then down the Ohio River to points west.[2] A small number also traveled north from New Orleans and southern regions using the Mississippi and other rivers running from the North.

To reach the new lands of the West, Europeans adapted boat types already in use by Native Americans and on the East Coast. Explorers used birch bark canoes and settlers used larger dugouts to open the west to settlement. As more people moved west, boats with greater capacity were needed, which called for new boat types. A form of enlarged dugout, called a pirogue, was developed first. Pirogues were more capacious than dugouts and were themselves adapted into more useful forms. The first adaptation changed the method of construction, by taking the well-formed hull shape of the pirogue and replacing the hewn multiple-log construction of pirogues with European plank-on- frame construction.[3]

Plank-on-frame construction was also used for another boat type called a bateau. Bateaus had been adapted for frontier use on the eastern seaboard in the early 1700s and were built for use on the Western Rivers later. When more traditional European construction practice was followed with these vessels, they resembled ship's boats but with more substantial timbers. When the best features of pirogues and bateaus were combined, they were given a hull shape that provided little resistance to the water, an external keel to help in steering, and sufficient cargo capacity to pay their way. This new vessel type was called a keelboat.[4]

Cheaper transportation was afforded by the use of barges and flatboats. Flatboats were box-shaped variants of the scow hull form used for ferries on shallow Eastern rivers. Flatboats were the cheapest form of transportation on the rivers. Intended to travel only one way and then be broken up for lumber, flatboats could be built, loaded with household goods, and sailed by the settlers themselves.[5]

Barges occupied the middle range of watercraft between keelboats and flatboats. Though similar in construction to keelboats, early barges were built wider, more robust, and drew more water. Barges, with their deeper draft, transported heavy freight on the deeper rivers.[6]

The Development of Wharfboats and Houseboats

Barges developed in design and began to be built in standard sizes after the advent of steamboats allowed them to be towed easily. Barges of the period from 1830 to 1850 were of two general types. The more common type had a square-ended scow hull, built of planks and often used as workboats or on one-way trips down river carrying coal. This type was generally developed from the flatboat.

Another type of barge was used for voyages both up- and downstream. These were usually greatly enlarged versions of the barges of the 1820s, called "model" barges for their finely modeled ends. Model barges were designed to act as companions to steamboats, providing extra capacity for as little cost as possible.[7]

Model barges and some scow barges were often used as floating warehouses on riverbanks where there was great fluctuation in the water level. These floating warehouses and passenger terminals were called wharfboats. Barges modified or built to be lived on were called houseboats.

Wharfboats allowed waterfront businesses to communicate with steamboats of all types on the rivers. Wharfboats were used by packet companies to hold cargo and passengers awaiting company boats; as ferry landings; as excursion passenger gathering places; and for many other purposes that required a mobile building on the waterfront that could move to meet seasonal water-level fluctuations.

Houseboats were constructed of all sorts of materials and ranged from fine vacation homes on the water to ramshackle hovels moving to provide shelter for itinerant workers. The Army Corps of Engineers used medium-sized barges with dormitories aboard, called quarterboats, to provide shelter for the huge crews who worked on Corps waterway improvement projects.[8]

The United States Life-Saving Service on the Ohio River

One cardinal concern in the development of Western Rivers steamboats was safety. Early boats were particularly susceptible to boiler explosions, fires, and sinkings caused by hitting snags. Extraordinary dangers included being damaged in floods, tornadoes, and ice gorges. The lifetime of a steamboat in the 1840s and 1850s was estimated to be below five years. Profits were high enough that owners could afford such losses. This situation changed very slowly.[9]

Government intervention forced builders and operators of steamboats to become more conscious of safety considerations in a way that commercial motivations could not. In 1838, Congress responded to the need for increased safety aboard steamboats when it passed an act requiring the inspection of steamboats. In 1851, six steamboat disasters took more than 700 lives and caused Congress to tighten these safety regulations. The Steamboat Inspection Act of 1852 set standards for both boats and operators, and created a system of Federal inspection to oversee them. An office for steamboat inspection was established in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1842, and continues in operation under the Coast Guard today.[10]

The many hazards to navigation did not deter business and many new boats were built to replace those lost to various causes. A substantial salvage business grew up in consequence, and parts produced for one steamboat might be reused on a succession of later boats. Occasionally boats with worn out hulls had their entire superstructure moved to new hulls. Material salvaged from American waters was administered by a government-appointed "receiver of wreck," who saw that the interests of both vessel owners and salvagers were considered.

In addition to attempts to prevent accidents, the government also worked to save lives after accidents happened. Congress provided for life-saving apparatus for dangerous coastal areas as early as 1848, when the government provided $10,000 for "Surfboats, Rockets, and Carronades."[11] Advances in life-saving were made, with difficulty, until 1871, when Sumner Increase Kimball was appointed the first Chief of the Revenue Marine Division of the Treasury Department, which was in charge of lifesaving. Progress in lifesaving technology and technique advanced steadily from that point. The Service was gradually converted from a semi-professional mostly volunteer organization into a professional organization of the highest training, ability and reputation for bravery.

The United States Life-Saving Service was established as a separate organizational entity in 1878 under the direction of Kimball, who remade it into one of the most admired branches of government. Congress authorized the employment of professional crews of surfmen wherever they were needed, and provided money for a growing list of stations and equipment. The period of explosive growth of the Service lasted from 1871 through the early 1880s, when the decline of commercial sail and the increase in recreational boating forced changes in the makeup of the Service. During this time many keepers of life-saving stations also served as receivers of wreck for salvaged goods.[12]

Life-saving stations were established on much of the United States coastline by the mid-1870s. Built on the Atlantic Coast as early as 1848, stations were constructed on the Gulf Coast in the early 1870s, and beginning in 1878, on the Great Lakes. Stations were proposed for several inland rivers as well. One of these was a station proposed for Louisville, Kentucky, due to the extraordinary danger presented by the Falls of the Ohio River. The danger presented was so great that it was one of only three places on the Mississippi or Ohio Rivers which required a special pilot to pass. Louisville station, the first on the Western Rivers, was built in 1881. Other stations at Grand Isle and New Canal, Kentucky, followed later.[13]

Construction and Career of Mayor Andrew Broaddus

General Superintendent Kimball met with Ninth (Cleveland) Life-Saving District Superintendent, D. J. Dobbins on May 26, 1881, at Louisville to plan a lifeboat station for the Falls of the Ohio River. The Service subsequently contracted with Howard T. Cook to build the station, under the supervision of John McCoggin at Jeffersonville, Indiana, across the river from her future duty station at Louisville.

The superstructure followed the design of a standard lifeboat station but was placed on a movable foundation. This modified wharfboat was accepted on October 22 by Supt. Dobbins and was placed in commission the same day. After further fitting out and the hiring of four "river boatmen," Life-Saving Station Number 10 was moved across the Ohio River to Louisville on November 4th. She was placed between two steamboat company wharfboats at the foot of Third Street and began service, with lookouts set that day.

On November 7, 1881, the station performed its first rescue. The two lifeboats of the station removed the passengers and crew of the new steamboat Baton Rouge, stranded while trying to descend the falls. The next day, only the fourth that the station had been in operation, the crew continued to assist Baton Rouge and rescued three more people. The log of Keeper William McDevan describes the second rescue performed by the station.

At about 4 PM went to the relief of a boat containing a man and two ladies of a rather cozy virtue, who had drifted into the strong current and were being carried over the Falls. Took the boat in tow and brought them out of their paid labors into still water.[14]

The station performed invaluable services to the communities lining the Ohio River near the station well into the next century. The boats of the station assisted stranded vessels; rescued recreational boaters in danger from the Falls; grappled for the bodies of drowned swimmers; fought fires ashore and afloat; and saved several towboats, with barges in tow, from imminent destruction.[15]

In 1902, another wooden lifeboat station replaced the first. It too was moored at the foot of Third Street. Two life-saving skiffs from this wharfboat were lost in June 27, 1916, while attempting to rescue a flatboat caught in the Falls. Both men from the flatboat and all but one would-be-rescuer were picked from the water by fishermen. Two boats were lost in a similar accident in 1922, but everyone involved was rescued. [16]

In 1915, the Life-Saving Service and the Revenue Cutter Service, both of the Department of the Treasury, were combined and became the U.S. Coast Guard. Operations of Life-Saving stations continued under the Coast Guard much as before but with added responsibilities. The Louisville Station was made a Group headquarters and inspection station as well as a life-boat station.

The wooden hull of the second Louisville Life-Saving Station eventually became worn out and a new station was built. The present station was built on the lines of the earlier station wharfboats, but a more durable steel hull replaced the wooden hulls of the earlier boats. Coast Guard Life-Saving Station, Louisville was built at Dubuque, Iowa, on the upper Mississippi, and towed to Louisville. This boat, now Mayor Andrew Broaddus, was commissioned in 1928.[17]

The new station was equipped with two lifesaving skiffs, a six- oar surf boat and a motor utility boat in 1928. The skiffs were used on protected waters for missions requiring only a few men. The two powered boats were used to assist larger vessels. By 1938, the station had one skiff, a motor lifeboat and a utility motorboat.

The Coast Guard was made responsible for enforcement of the National Prohibition (Volstead) Act on America's waterways in 1920. Alcoholic beverages were outlawed by the Act, which inadvertently encouraged many people to make or import liquor. The Louisville Life-Saving Station assisted in the enforcement of Prohibition several times by transporting prohibition agents to remote islands in the Ohio River to search for and destroy illicit alcohol distilleries.[18]

Inspection with holiday decorations, December 7, 1941. Photo courtesy USCG.
The location of the station remained at the foot of Second Street from 1881 to 1936, but the construction of the George Rogers Clarke Memorial Bridge made the relocation of the station necessary. The moorings were moved downriver to the foot of Fourth Street in 1936.[19]

During the 1960s and 1970s the requirements for Coast Guard assistance in search and rescue activities diminished yearly. Because of severe cuts in operating budgets the Louisville station was put on a reduced personnel and boat allowance on June 1, 1971, and disestablished on October 1, 1972. The station boat was declared surplus and transferred to the City of Louisville and Hamilton County Operating Board.[20]

Soon after, the station was transferred to the City of Louisville, the boat was named Mayor Andrew Broaddus, and converted to serve as the offices and wharfboat of the city's other historic vessel, Belle of Louisville. Today the former life-saving station remains at her historic mooring at the foot of Fourth Street.


1. Norman J. Brouwer, International Register of Historic Ships (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1985) p. 253.

2. Francis S. Philbrick, The Rise of the West: 1754-1860 (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1965) pp. 312-315.

3. Leland D. Baldwin, The Keelboat Age on Western Waters (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980) p.41.

4. Baldwin, op. cit., pp. 42-44 and pp. 50- 51.

5. Philbrick, Op. cit. pp. 313-314.

6. Baldwin, op. cit., pp. 44-46.

7. Alan L. Bates, The Western Rivers Steamboat Cyclopoedium (Leonia, New Jersey: Hustle Press, 1968) pp. 104-107.

8. Floyd M. Clay, A Century on the Mississippi; A History Of The Memphis District, U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers (Memphis, Tennessee: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1976) pp. 72, 190, 223.

9. Louis C. Hunter, Steamboats on the Western Rivers (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1949) as cited in Larry Murphy and Allen R. Saltus, Phase II Identification and Evaluation of Submerged Cultural Resources in the Tombigbee River Multi-Resource District, Alabama and Mississippi (Report of Investigaions No. 17, Birmingham, Alabama: The University of Alabama, 1981) pp. 163-169.

10. T. Michael O'Brien, Guardians of the Eighth Sea; A History of the U.S. Coast Guard on the Great Lakes (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Coast Guard, 1976) pp. 60-61.

11. Robert F. Bennett, Surfboats, Rockets, and Carronades (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1976) pp. 2-33.

12. O'Brien, op. cit., pp. 33-38.

13. Noble, op. cit., p. 23.

14. Logbook, Louisville Life-Saving Station, National Archives, Record Group 26, Records of the United States Coast Guard, "Logbooks 1828-1941," entries for November 2, 1881.

15. Ibid, entries for 1928-1938, passim.

16. Robert Erwin Johnson, Guardians of the Sea; History of the United States Coast Guard (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1987) p. 41.

17. "U.S. Coast Guard News Release, Louisville Lifeboat Station" (St. Louis, Missouri: 2nd Coast Guard District, ca. 1970) p. 1.

18. Malcolm F. Willoughby, Rum War At Sea (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1964) pp. 9-19.

19. Logbook, op.cit., entries for 1935-1936, passim.

20. "Louisville Station," notes and correspondence file concerning the disestablishment of the station, (at the office of the Historian, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C.)

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