New Book Features Mon River

Washington PA Observer-Reporter
12 June 2018

A boat pushes barges up the Monongahela River near California University of Pennsylvania.

A new publication by Dr. John Kent Folmar I, California University of Pennsylvania professor emeritus of history, features the index of the “Voice of the Mon,” the publication of the Monongahela River Buffs Association (MRBA).

“The Voice,” said Folmar, “was more than a newsletter. It attracted attention from historians, government agencies, journalists and the people who lived, loved and worked on the river.”

The Voice of the Mon was published from 1979-2015, with Folmar as its editor from 1981-2015.

“The importance of the Voice as local and regional news relative to the Monongahela River is evident,” said Folmar, “but its underlying value is the compilation of local history of the Mon Valley from Fairmont, W.Va., to Pittsburgh.”

Maritime history is captured by 648 articles in the Voice. All craft are included, covering flatboats, keels, and ferries; however, the packet boat era and the coal-bearing towboats, both steam and diesel, dominate. It also contains numerous personal recollections of life on the river. A searchable DVD of 93 issues is included in the book, primarily intended for students of local and transportation history. It will be distributed to local, regional and state libraries and historical societies.

In addition to the 100-page Voice index, an appendix includes a history of the Monongahela River and the Mon River Buffs.

“I never pictured myself writing a history of the River Buffs Association,” Folmar said. “but after thinking of the decades spent with the MRBA, and especially the numerous people who had been part of its existence, I decided to include the Association’s history – my way of documenting three decades of activity by a wide range of individuals.”

Folmar was president of the Monongahela River Buffs Association from 1980-81 and again from 1990-2015. The author of four books on local and transportation history, Folmar resides in California Borough. The book can be purchased for $25 at Yohogania Press, P.O. Box 692, California, PA 15419, by calling 724-938-7856, or e-mailing