At New Richmond, Ohio, crowds lined the river banks. A shout went up when smoke was discernible in the distance. On Dam 35 the judges grew prematurely alert, fingered their watches. Up the river, belching like twin-snouted dragons, sloshing along at an uproarious nine-knots-per-hour came the doughty Sternwheelers Tom Greene and Betsy Ann at the grim finish of a 21-mile race upstream from Cincinnati. Long before they could see which was ahead the crowd could hear the roar of the laboring engines. Children cringed, fearing an explosion. Old rivermen felt young again at the familiar sound.

Past the finish line the...

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