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The Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library is a special library within the St. Louis Mercantile Library, at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, which is one of America's great historical research libraries, serving St. Louis and the nation since 1846. The Mercantile Library was founded by a group of businessmen who possessed a deep interest in the close relationship to the nation's inland rivers, particularly the Mississippi. Throughout its history, individuals active in waterways businesses have been associated with the Library. In 1985, the Mercantile Library built upon this long heritage of association with the rivers by greatly expanding its waterways-related holdings, and establishing the Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library.

Herman T. Pott (1895-1982) was one of this century's best known and most distinguished river transportation executives and pioneer river industry entrepreneurs. In 1933 Mr. Pott purchased the old Philip A. Rohan Boat, Boiler & Tank Co. in St. Louis, where river vessels had been produced since the Civil War. He changed its name to St. Louis Shipbuilding & Steel Co., and set to work developing a new enterprise. His commitment to quality and cutting-edge engineering was exemplified in an early and strong push toward diesel propulsion technology. During World War II his company constructed ships for the United States and Russia, and by the 1950s, was the world's largest designer and builder of inland river towboats. In 1953 Mr. Pott purchased the Federal Barge Lines from the government, and built the M.V. America and the M.V. United States, the two most powerful towboats in the world.

SCOPE: The collection focuses on America's inland rivers and some coastal waters both as natural resources and as developed waterways for transportation and other uses. A portion of the Pott Library's holdings were part of the personal library of Ruth Ferris (1897-1993), one of the best-known and most beloved historians of the nation's inland rivers. Many other books on professional subjects and the economics of the rivers and general navigation were the gift of The Waterways Journal. Subject emphases in the collections include: river history; rare books, maps and charts; vessel information; hydrology and water resources; river transportation economics,, management and statistics; port and terminal design and operation; flood and navigation channel management; navigation practices; and periodical holdings.

HOLDINGS: The Pott Inland Waterways Library includes more than 15,000 volumes covering all aspects of the history of America's inland rivers and waterways, and dating from the beginnings of inland river navigation and its development in the 1820s to the present day. Holdings also include coverage of foreign waterways and ocean navigation. The following are current periodicals: Alabama Seaport;American Canals;American Sternwheel Association NewsletterBig River;Coal AgeCurrent NewsEsprit (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)Heartland BoatingJournal of Commerce WeeklyMarine Log; Mining VoiceMining WeekMissouri LifePaddlewheel; Powerships; River Alert; River Ripples;S & D ReflectorSteamboat Bill; Sternwheeler; Transportation Journal;Tulsa Port of Catoosa News ReleaseU.S. Dept. Of Transportation, U.S. Coast Guard 8th District, Local Notice to Mariners, Mississippi River System; Upper Mississippi River Basin Association; Washington WatchThe Waterways Journal; Wheelwash; and Work Boat.

ACCESS: Some of the collection may either be photocopied, digitally scanned, or photographed, depending on condition.

Book collections:

The majority of the book collection can be checked out. Some may be available through interlibrary loan. Rare books must be acessed in the reading room. Search the Merlin book catalog