The Ohio River Museum in Marietta belongs to the Ohio Historical Society, but when it comes to most of the bits and pieces of history within its walls it's another group, long committed to preserving river history, that has ownership.
The Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen has been dedicated to inland rivers since its founding in 1939 and today, with more than 800 members, the group's work continues.
More than 150 members of the geographically diverse group are meeting in Marietta this weekend for an annual gathering, coinciding with the homecoming of the W.P Snyder Jr.
"Our main focus is still just preserving the history of the river," said President Jeff Spear. "The bulk of our membership is people who have worked on the river."
The group met its first major goal in 1941 when an Ohio River Museum was opened. It was then located in the basement of the Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, before getting its own Front Street space in 1972.
The second massive accomplishment for the Sons and Daughters came in 1955, when the group helped bring the W.P. Snyder Jr. to Marietta.
"Some of us were interested in adding to the collections of the river museum and we urged them to bring a boat here," said Woody Rutter, of Marietta. "We wanted to get one of the steamboats before they were all gone."
Rutter has been part of the Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen since he joined as a teenager in 1940.
"When I was a kid I lived near Pittsburgh where it overlooked the river," he said. "I became interested in boats then and it's been a hobby ever since. Some people watch butterflies but I watch boats."
Spear, a member since he was 12 years old, said he was also bitten by the river bug at a very early age.
"It just gets in you," he said. "And once the river gets in you, it just sticks to you."
It was stories told to him by Lillian Sinclair, a 1923 Marietta College graduate and later the college's registrar, about her family's trips on a steamboat between Marietta and Beverly that first piqued his interest, Spear said.
Sinclair told him stories about her mother bringing a picnic and spending the day on the river en route to visit her aunt and he was hooked, he said.
There are still young people that feel the same way that are joining the group now, Spear said, including a 21-year-old man who became a member about a year ago.
Watching him go through some of the organization's items in storage recently brought back memories, Spear said.
"Seeing him with those things and the fact that he knew what they were was exciting," he said. "It reminded me of me at that age."
Spear said he feels most people who live along the area rivers don't know enough about them.
"I want to get people to realize that when they're standing there looking at the Ohio River, they're looking at a highway," he said. "It's not just a pretty little boating river."
Along with establishing the Ohio River Museum and bringing the W.P. Snyder to Marietta, the Sons and Daughters group helped open the Inland Rivers Library within the Public Library of Cincinnati in 1956. The library has books, manuscripts, photos and maps dealing with the western rivers.
After helping to open several museums, the once 1,000-member group has continued to support them, through bringing in new exhibits or giving money.
The Sons and Daughters of the Pioneer Rivermen now pay $15,000 a year to keep the doors of the Ohio River Museum open and contributed to the repair fund for the W.P. Snyder's recent hull replacement.
Spear said he has plenty more goals for the group including opening a flood exhibit at the river museum next year and an interactive children's display that would teach them how to build a levee with sandbags.
"I think an area we've been lacking is in educational programs," he said. "I think we need more."
Those in the organization also never mind new members, with existing ones located everywhere from Marietta to Europe.
"We would love more people," said Spear. "We have a misleading name. You don't even have to be a son or daughter. You just have to be interested in the river."