News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 14, 2013

River boat models capture glory of former culture

Jan Buffington
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — In the River portion of the latest exhibit at the Vigo County Historical Society museum are two models of river paddle boats created by Alfred F. Nehf.

Both boats were crafted in fine detail. On the smallest unnamed boat, the decking and paddle wheel are intricately carved. The larger boat is a replica of the “Romeo,” which ran up and down the Wabash River for excursion and pleasure trips in the early 1900s. This replica is so finely detailed that you can see the tiny oars in the life boat and the rigging that swung the gangplank to and from the dock.

The artist, Alfred Neff, was born and raised in Terre Haute. After graduating from the old Terre Haute High School, he attended art schools in Pennsylvania and Ohio. He then returned to Terre Haute to attend Indiana Normal School. His career was with the railroads: a clerk for the Big Four Railroad, retiring as a railroad clerk for the C & El Railroad.

Nehf was very active in the community. He was a charter member of the Izaak Walton League, a member of the Vigo County Historical Society, a member of the German (later Memorial United) Methodist Church, and a very active Boy Scouts of America leader. His troop was the first in the U.S. to have a full patrol of Eagle Scouts.

When you come to the museum to see the exhibit on “The River, The Road, and the Rails,” don’t forget to wander through other exhibits. You may find additional models made by this talented artist.

Historical Treasure

n The Vigo County Historical Society’s museum is at 1411 S. Sixth St. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through

Sunday.