Mid-summer 2011, with The Spirit of West Virginia slated for a local charter and Captain Dick looking to document some of the improvements and visual changes made to the sternwheeler, a video team tracked an upriver trip with camera mounted in a flat-bottom pursuit boat.

The Spirit departed from Haddad Riverfront Park in Charleston and meandered up the Kanawha River past the capitol building as far as the Interstate Bridge. The passenger group was just one of many during the season who chartered the craft for a birthday, an office party, an anniversary or to just cruise – leisurely – through the Kanawha Valley.

The first edited version of the video was accompanied by Frederic Chopin – an Etude – which cast the pictures in a solemn light – like something from an Ingmar Bergman movie. “Were we on the same trip?” Captain Dick gently inquired, “the Spirit is a happy boat. How about some Dixieland?”

So – here it is, the revised version of the video with Kermit Ruffins supplying the music track accompanied by some snazzy water-level shots of The Spirit of West Virginia paddling up-stream, showing off its new Texas Deck roof and a crowd of happy passengers.


Captain Dick was correct – the video is better with Dixieland.


Krista and Capitol

Mrs. West Virginia on deck during FESTIVALL.

Krista Brogan dropped by for a visit and a cruise during FESTIVALL.  The reigning Mrs. West Virginia United States 2011 graced our decks and greeted fellow travelers as The Spirit of West Virginia glided upstream toward the capitol building.

Krista, a Charleston native who works as a paralegal for a law firm, attended The University of Charleston on a tennis scholarship.  Krista and her husband Jason Brogan plan eventually to work together in the photography business.

“We’ve been plenty busy during FESTIVALL,” noted the captain.  “The weather has been moody, but the occasional cloudburst hasn’t dampened the spirit and having Krista on board brightened the day.”

All hands were on deck for the visit – including Captain Dick Daugherty’s dad George (AKA The Earl of Elkview and/or The Duke of Dunbar).

Captain Dick, Krista Brogan and The Duke of Dunbar

Patris et filii Daugherty were pleased when Mrs. West Virginia agreed to an official group photo, on the dock at Haddad Riverfront Park with The Spirit of West Virginia in the background.  “It’s good to have a record of moments like this,” said Captain Dick.

“Krista is a beautiful and gracious young woman.” observed George.  “She defines what we believe truly is The Spirit of West Virgina.”

“Nice tie-in dad,” agreed Captain Dick.



This section contains amateur and “semi-pro” shots from year one of the operation of The Spirit of West Virginia along the length of the Kanawha River from where begins – to the confluence with the Ohio River near Point Pleasant.  We plan to open this section up for photo contributions as soon as we figure out how to do that.

Cover your ears!

Youngsters react to the sound of The Spirit's air horns.

When Captain Dick Daugherty pulled away from the berth in Montgomery, WV in the Fall of 2010, he signaled his intention very loudly.  The air baritone and tenor horns atop the sternwheeler combined in a dissonant chord that echoed off the hillsides and rattled up and down the Kanawha River.  The kids on the second deck in front of the pilot house soon learned to anticipate the noise and cover their ears.

Kid at rail pouting.

I'll be happier when they serve the ice cream.

This young lady was the most photographed “Montgomeryite” on board in the Fall of 2010.

The Spirit spent a couple of days on the Kanawha River near Montgomery.

Hundreds of folks took advantage of the offer to cruise leisurely between the golds, greens and reds of fall that blanket the hillsides and frame the valley upstream from Montgomery,  where the river called “The Kanawha” begins.

At berth, gangplank down.

Moored in Montgomery in the Fall of 2010.

Placid view of The Spirit of West Virginia at its berth in Montgomery during a lull in the activities that offered several hundred upriver folks an opportunity to experience the Kanawha during leisurely ride on an authentic sternwheeler.

Pink skys as sun slides away behind The Spirit.

The pink sky offers backdrop near Charleston.

This pink sky shot was taken on one of the earliest cruises of The  Spirit of West Virginia.  Passengers were treated to an incredible sunset as the sternwheeler glided upriver near the West Virginia State Capitol Building.

Nancy smiling.

First mate Nancy in her Foster Grant's.

Normally concerned with the details of passenger comfort and acting as tour guide, First Mate Nancy displays a winning smile for the camera.  Nancy’s voice is the one you’ll usually hear when you call for reservations or information.

Late afternoon shot of Spirit passing WV State Capitol.

The Spirit of West Virginia heads up river past the state capitol building.

This is what we call an “iconic” shot (lifted from the video you’ll find elsewhere) of the sternwheeler under power heading east past the historic West Virginia State Capitol Building.  The complex is just about eighty years old.  It was designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert.  You can learn more about the capitol and other West Virginia history and lore at

Looking for parking space.

Captain Dick looking for a parking place that has time on the meter.

This is The Spirit almost home in Dunbar.  There are usually several boats of various shapes and sizes anchored and moored in the vicinity.  Captain Dick is adept at maneuvering the sternwheeler into position during an elegant pirouette that involves just the right paddle-turn, just the right approach angle and just the right feel for the Kanawha River current.  It’s something to behold.

Beneath the St Alban's - Nitro bridge.

Upriver under the bridge that spans the Kanawha between Nitro and St. Albans.

This is another photo lifted from a video shoot as The Spirit of West Virginia paddles upriver toward its home in Dunbar.  The sternwheeler has just spent a couple of days at an Ohio River festival in Point Pleasant.  The bridge is the soon-to-be-replaced eighty-year-old two-lane that crosses between Nitro and St. Albans, West Virginia.


Gazette photograph

Captain Dick Daugherty, in command of The Spirit of West Virginia, is all smiles for Gazette photographer Lawrence Pierce.

Captain Dick Daugherty smiles for Charleston Gazette photographer Lawrence Pierce before engaging the paddlewheel and churning away from the Haddad Park dock and into the Kanawha River current.  Gazette reporter Sandy Wells already asked all the questions and it was time for The Spirit of West Virginia to pose for the camera.

In the front page feature article, reporter Wells describes Daugherty’s lifelong attraction to sternwheel boats and his commitment to being part of a revival taking place all along the Kanawha River.

The newspaper story is available at:


Spirit on the River

Heading downstream, toward home

Captain Dick Daugherty piloted the Spirit of West Virginia up river from its berth in Dunbar in mid-July for a video photo session. The photo crew leap-frogged from picturesque site to picturesque site to capture the sternwheeler in transit on the Kanawha River.

The video will allow you to see The Spirit in motion – moving past the capital city on to the State Capitol Building.

Spirit on the Kanawha