A 1915 book with the signatures of people who helped build the Keokuk-Hamilton, Ill., dam is on display at the George M. Verity River Museum in Keokuk.
Located in Victory Park, the sternwheel steamboat will be in the midst of most of the activities surrounding the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the completion of the dam and powerhouse, which starts Friday.
The Verity reopened this year after being closed for 1 1/2 years as the roof was replaced.
The book signed by dam construction workers is one of many river-related treasures at the musuem. For instance, a personal river chart of Capt. C.W. Elder is located on the upper Texas deck.
A scale model of the dam and Lock 19 restored by the late Bob Newton is on the second deck. Newton’s efforts were featured in the Daily Gate City on Oct. 2, 2006. At that time, he had spent more than 200 hours restoring the 81-year-old model built by Keokuk native George Ribyn.
Made mostly of tin and wood, the model has two four-by-eight-foot sections. In addition to a lock, the model has a power plant and lighted houses.
Newton also compiled a pictorial story of the building of the lock and dam with about 50 eight-by-10-inch photos depicting the momentous project from start to finish.
Original kerosene navigational lights from the swing span of the Keokuk municipal bridge can be found upon entering the Verity. The bridge was originally built in 1871 by the Keokuk and Hamilton Bridge Company whose president was Andrew Carnegie. The superstructure was replaced with the current truss spans in 1916, which changed the structure to a combined highway and railroad crossing.
The George M. Verity was built in Dubuque in 1927 as the S.S. Thorpe. It moved millions of tons of coal and merchandise on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. It also initiated modern barge movement on the Upper Mississippi with its first tow in 1927 from St. Louis to St. Paul, Minn.
Renamed the Verity in honor of the founder of Armco Steel Corp., it was given in 1960 to the City of Keokuk for a museum of river history.
The Verity is 162 1/2 feet long and 40 feet wide with a hull 5 1/2 feet deep.
The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Labor Day.
Plans are being made to decorate the Verity in honor of the dam and powerhouse celebration and for the Fourth of July. Lots of flags will be placed on the boat by Friday.