James A. Harmon


Elizabeth Smarr



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James A. Harmon was born in 1890 on his grandfather’s farm outside of Red House, WV. Mr. Harmon reminiscences about his childhood growing up on a 350-acre farm. He earned a sixth grade education at a two-room schoolhouse. When he was 14 years old, Mr. Harmon started his career on the river on the Steamer Calvert. During his interview, Mr. Harmon focuses on his varied jobs on many steamboats. Although he performed well in all of his duties, his greatest passion was engineering. He received his engineer’s license when he was 21 years old. In the audio clip provided, Mr. Harmon discusses life on the river, with an emphasis on the boats and jobs he held while employed.

Publication Date

Winter 2-26-1975




Steamboats, river life, river careers, railroads, Depression Era: 1929-1945, boatmen, family life, politics and government


American Politics | Appalachian Studies | Labor History | Oral History | Political History | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | United States History

Library of Congress Subjects

Harmon, James A., 1890-1976 -- Autobiography. Pioneer Rivermen -- Oral histories. River boats -- West Virginia -- Oral histories. Family -- West Virginia -- Oral histories.


Interview is included in the Marshall University Oral History Collection. The index number is OH64-113. This interview was conducted by Elizabeth Smarr. MDS exhibit prepared by Jennifer Gehringer, August, 2014.


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Streaming Media

Oral History Interview: James A. Harmon