The state of Cannelton

How can a town with many prosperous years of history just slowly pass into the present state of fading from its former beauty and bustling activity?

It never happened overnight. It took months and even years for it to become a sad and shameful shadow of it’s past. Why did this happen?

How did its once ambitious and proud people not leave a legacy of pride in their town?

Did it happen so slowly that no one noticed? Was it a lack of leadership? Was it a lack of parents teaching their children pride in their home town and in their ancestors who built a town meant to stand forever? Certainly it was built of stone and strong timbers.

Every building on Main Street and side streets had some business on the street level and living quarters in the upstairs.

Myers Grade School and Cannelton High School and dedicated teachers have taught many generations. The sports teams were well known and proud of the Bulldogs strutting their black and gold uniforms.

Churches and dedicated ministers were available to all.

The rocky hills stood like a monument to the people, and supplied timber, stone and coal. The beautiful Ohio carried ships of merchandise up and down the river and often stopped to loan or unloads. A ferry boat carried vehicles and passengers across the river to Hawesville, Ky. The river still flows and the boats pass by. Do they even notice Cannelton? The town that was once so prosperous and that is now hidden behind a stone floodwall, what has happened?

Yes, it was necessary to prevent flooding as happened in 1937. A park was built on the river side but does it attract families as it once did? I hope so!

My first memories of Cannelton were of coming here with my family and other country families when I was very young. Some traded garden produce at Irvin’s store and met other country families to visit. It was a special day.

Later, I rode the school bus to Cannelton High. Later still, my family and I came here to shop. I still live in Cannelton but shop elsewhere, having little choice.

The people who settled here were ambitious and had great leadership. The great Ohio River promised fishing, shells to make buttons and a way to row to the nearest settlements and later the huge stone Cotton Mill that brought in workers from the South and provided the Cotton Mill apartments. All these things provided a good way of life for many families, for many years and Cannelton prospered and grew until every need could be found here.

Yes, the changes came slowly but can change come again if enough people put their minds and efforts to work?

Could our leadership be more open to the public as to their plans for Cannelton? Believe it or not, we are interested in the future and welfare of our home town and ready to help in any way. We can, considering age, health and little wealth, for many of us. However, many of us are willing to step forward in any way that we can to give Cannelton back her pride.

Doris Y. Burst

Cannelton Resident