This Coal Barge Towboat Now Has a ‘Dock’-Torate

Morgantown Dominion Post
31 October 2011
Associated Press

CHARLESTON — Any number of perks and honors come with the job of being president of a university, but Edwin Welch has the rare distinction of having a commercial towboat named for him.

Sometimes, when Welch looks out his office window at the University of Charleston, he can see the 118-foot boat floating along the Kanawha River to its destination. The Dr. Edwin H. Welch, or “Dr. Ed” as it is known around the shipping yards, is owned and operated by Amherst Madison marine transportation company.

The boat’s name was a surprise to Welch.

He said he mentioned to Charlie Jones, who owns Amherst Madison, that he thought some of the boats’ names should be updated. After all, the company at one point had a boat named Morris Harvey for the founder of Morris Harvey College, now known as the University of Charleston.

Jones agreed that a few updates were in order. He spent six months secretly planning a ceremony with Janet Welch, the president’s wife, to name one of the boats after Ed.

“They were really sneaky in planning this,” the university chief said. “They would be talking about it; then I would show up and they would stop talking.

“I didn’t know they were doing it.”

The ceremony was held in September 2007 at the University of Charleston.

“They had it down here covered up on the riverfront,” he said. “It was shocking.”

Janet smashed a bottle of champagne across the bow after it was unveiled.

The boat with its crew of seven passes by its namesake’s office and nearby home every two or three days pushing its haul of coal between Montgomery and Point Pleasant.