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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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NEWT, Eldon

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NEWT, Eldon. (Dubuque, IA- ). Steamboat captain. Newt was the first person to ever receive his pilot's and master's licenses at the same time. Passing these tests during WORLD WAR II made Newt the youngest captain on the MISSISSIPPI RIVER.

Continually seeking to be licensed on more rivers, Newt managed to get the required ten round trips of experience, take the test, and then draw a map of each rivers' course. Eventually he was licensed on the Illinois, Ohio, St. Croix, and the waterway from Houston to New Orleans in addition to the Mississippi River-a total of 5,000 miles and another record.

In his career, Newt piloted the "John W. Weeks," "C. C. Webber," and "Mark Twain," all steam-powered stern-wheelers with six hundred to one thousand horsepower. Newt also piloted the diesel-powered, 3,200 horsepower "Ernest T. Weir" for seven years. In 1936, while the Weeks was iced-in, Newt was one of the construction workers on the ZEBULON PIKE LOCK AND DAM, one of many that led the way to establishing a nine-foot channel. Newt retired in 1968 and, with his family, began operating Newt Marine Service.