President Herbert Hoover came to Cincinnati on October 22, 1929, had lunch at the Gibson Hotel with 900 of his closest friends, visited Nicholas Longworth at his home on Grandin Road, dedicated a statute in Eden Park, and was on the Greenbrier headed downriver by 5 p.m.

 He came down the Ohio River and stopped in Madison Indiana on the morning of October 23, 1929. It was cold and rainy. He traveled in a flotilla of steamboats.  The President’s boat, the Greenbrier, landed at the foot of Mulberry Street about 8:30 in the morning, and only stayed docked for about thirty minutes.  It was ahead of schedule, and the flotilla was gone by the time most people arrived to see it. He went on to Louisville, where he later got on a train and went back to Washington.

There were a group of men with a 155-millimeter howitzer on top of Telegraph Hill in Madison, near where there was a Wesbecker’s Lane, who were in the process of mounting a 21 shot salute, but the howitzer blew up, injuring several of them and killing one Robert Earls.

The steamboats are said to have tied up between Carrolton and Milton – “13 miles above Madison,” on the Indiana side near Brooksburg - the evening before. In addition to the Greenbrier, were the Ottawa and the Cayuga, towing “a floating hotel,” which mainly held the press; and the Kentucky and the Scioto, “government boats,” which pushed barges of coal for refueling the flotilla; as well as the Cincinnati and the Greater Pittsburgh (formerly the excursion steamer Homer Smith). The Madison Courier also noted that “a small pleasure yacht; apparently carrying secret service men, circled continuously about the President’s boat.”

The purpose of the trip was to inspect the new lock and dam system, but heavy rains the week before made the river water higher than the nine foot pools the dams were created to maintain, so the flotilla didn’t need to use the locks at the Old Markland Dam, nor the dam at McVie, nor at Fernbank, both in Boone County, Kentucky.  The need for a dam just above Madison was announced as unnecessary a few days later.

 And a mere six days later, on Black Tuesday, October 29th, 1929, the stock market fell precipitously, and the Great Depression began.


from various contemporary newspaper accounts