Terry Ruscin / blueridgenow.com
The French Broad Steamship Company began with the notion of a paddleboat intended to carry passengers and freight on a stretch of the French Broad River. The plan would open the Broad as an important line for commerce where rails did not connect centers of trade.
The vessel was the brainchild of Col. Sidney Vance Pickens (1836–1919) of Hendersonville, an entrepreneur and veteran of the Civil War. The scheme would link Brevard, Hendersonville and Asheville by water.
Pickens was president of the company and R.W. Allen (1818–1905) served as secretary and treasurer. Corporate records (September 25, 1880) list Squire Jonathan Williams (1847–1911) and Albert Cannon (1845–1924) as additional partners.
Pickens married Cornelia Sarah Davis (1847–1928) and settled in Hendersonville where he practiced law, operated a mule-drawn trolley and promoted tourism.
With his cousin, congressman Robert Brank Vance (1828–1899), Pickens pulled political strings in Raleigh. The cousins secured an appropriation to improve the proposed route for a steamboat, initiating a dredging project by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to clear the channel between Brevard and Hendersonville. The projected cost: $44,000. The Corps blasted shoals, removed reefs, constructed jetties and deepened sections of the riverbed.
Scientific Name: Alternanthera philoxeroides A native of South America, alligatorweed was inadvertently introduced to Southeastern U.S. in the late 1800s. Its white flowers are clover-like and bloom a summer. Most commonly found floating in mats along the water’s edge, alligatorweed also grows immersed and even terrestrially. Its opposing leaves are lance shaped, 1-2 inches long, […]
Do you know where the water that flows into a storm drain goes? This water does not go to a treatment plant but flows directly into our streams, lakes, and rivers. Many people poor oil, paint, yard waste, and other pollutants into the storm drain because they think the water will be treated before […]
RiverLink and MountainTrue have developed informational kiosks for each river access point along the French Broad River Paddle Trail with a grant from the North Carolina Recreational Trails Program. Each kiosk focuses on historical and natural features of the river, as well as paddle trail information including maps and boater resources. These kiosks aid users and […]