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Ward Engineering Company Archives and Manuscripts

Collection Number: A&M 2298

Scope and Contents

Records of a Charleston, West Virginia, business which introduced to the western waters of the United States a new design of towboat whose essential features were water-tube boilers, multiple-expansion engines, and screw propulsion; thus replacing the traditional paddle wheel towboats that navigated the Ohio and Mississippi river systems. Charles Ward (1841-1915), a British engineer, who emigrated to Charleston in 1871, founded the industry and designed these new boats. This collection consists of business correspondence, U.S. Government business papers, company financial papers, compensation files, deeds, contracts, photographs, diaries, scrapbooks, charts, catalogs, information on ships, blueprints, maps, patents, biographical information, and more.

For additional information, consult: Bobbitt, John M., "In Pursuit of a Wild Goose," Nautical Research Journal, 42 (1997): 197-212 (Regarding research using the Ward ship drawings.)
McCabe, Brooks F., and George P. Parkinson, "The 'Duncan Bruce': A Last Attempt to Revive the Sternwheel Towboat." IA: The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology, 4 (1978): 43-54.
Parkinson, George P., and Brooks F. McCabe, "Charles Ward and the James Rumsey: Regional Innovation in Steam Technology on the Western Rivers," West Virginia History, 39 (1978): 143-180. (This article is extensively footnoted with sources.)

Series include:
Series 1. Business Correspondence (1928–1931), boxes: Series 1, Box 1-53
Series 2. Business Correspondence -- U.S. Government (1926–1931), boxes: Series 2, Box 1-16
Series 3. Company Financial Records (1917–1931), boxes: Series 3, Box 1-73
Series 4. Miscellaneous Papers (1906–1942), boxes: Series 4, Box 1-4
Series 5. Compensation Claims (CONFIDENTIAL) (1925–1935), boxes: Series 5, Box 1-3
Series 6. Boiler Information, Catalogs, Patents, and Reprints (1912–1930), boxes: Series 6, Box 1-2
Series 7. Miscellaneous Business Records (1884, 1913-1955), boxes: Series 7, Box 1-12
Series 8. Deeds and Contracts (ca. 1871-1935), box: Series 8, Box 1
Series 9. Photographs, Scrapbooks, and Diaries (1883-1931), boxes: Series 9, Box 1-7
Series 10. Research Files (1857-1953, 1975-1978), boxes: Series 10, Box 1-3
Series 11. Specifications (1916-1931), boxes: Series 11, Box 1-2
Series 12. Ship Drawings (1887–1931) Series 13. Blueprints and Maps (circa 1900-1940)


  • Creation: 1871-1977 and undated


Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please see the Permissions and Copyright page on the West Virginia and Regional History Center website.


82.2 Linear Feet (82 ft. 2 in. (178 document cases, 5 in. each); (2 document cases, 2.5 in. each); (2 flat storage boxes, 3 in. each); (1 folder, 0.25 in.); (1 ledger, 1 in.); (1 oversize folder, 1 in.); (map cabinets, 80 in.) )



Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL:

Related A&M Collections


Separated Materials

The glass plate negatives in boxes 5 and 6 of Series 9 were removed to secure storage.

An oversize portrait of Charles Ward was separated to the A&M oversize collection under "A&M 2298."


Ward Engineering Company Archives and Manuscripts
Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2019/02/20: This collection has been disambiguated.

Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US