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Rices Landing Borough

Rices Landing Borough Hall is located at 137 Main Street, Rices Landing PA 15357; phone: 724-592-6055.

Beginnings [1]

The Monongahela River was part of the nation's greatest inland commercial navigation system instrumental in the country's 19th century growth and development. Rice's Landing was a key riverport on the Upper Monongahela River and served as the distribution point for all of northeastern Greene County including Waynesburg and Jefferson.

Even before improvements were made to the Monongahela River's navigation system, a prosperous packet trade operated on the river. Rice's Landing was founded in 1780 when John Rice obtained a Virginia certificate for a 389-acre tract of land southeast of Pumpkin Run, then known as Enoch's Run. In 1786, Rice patented the land; and the town of Newport, later incorporated into Rice's Landing, was laid out. Abijeah McClain and Pamela Doughty patented the lands to the northwest of the run where the town of Rice's Landing developed in the early 19th century.

By the 1830s, large keelboats docked at Rice's Landing where warehouse space provided storage facilities for such goods as whiskey, salt, and flour. From the town's dock, Daniel Montgomery commanded a flatboat enrolled at the Pittsburgh Customs House in January of 1832. Joseph Sedgewick and his son, Samuel, were prominent traders who operated small steamboats on the Monongahela River when navigation conditions permitted. Sedgewick owned stores and warehouses at Rice's Landing where he was later named Justice of the Peace. This aspect of the community's history is represented by a single extant building, the 1850s red brick jail where prisoners sentenced by the Justice Sedgewick were confined.

Unreliable seasonal navigation on the Monongahela River interfered with steamboat and keelboat travel until the improved canalization of the river by the Monongahela Navigation Company, chartered in 1836. On July 27, 1854, contracts were awarded for the construction of Lock #6 at Rice's Landing and a lock at Greensboro located approximately fifteen miles upriver. The new locks were designed by Sylvanus Lothrop, the famous Pennsylvania Canal engineer and provided access to trade from Fayette and Greene Counties by extending the slackwater. When the locks were completed in November of 1856, a lock keeper was stationed at Rice's Landing to collect tolls. Before the lock was constructed, numerous coal barges descended the river, but steamboats only occasionally went upriver from Pittsburgh to Rice's Landing. It was nearly half a century from the time the Monongahela Navigation Company was organized that the river was opened to Morgantown. The first steamboat from West Virginia to Pittsburgh passed through Rice's Landing in 1889.

Three years after the Lock #6 was constructed, Rice's Landing was described as a "thriving settlement" owing "its present prosperity to the slackwater and its facilities as a shipping point. A ferry operated by the Hughes (Hews) family crossed the Monongahela River at the north end of town providing access to Fayette County and Brownsville. Commodities were stored at warehouses owned by local merchants and distributed through commission houses such as the one still standing on the Monongahela River. The Sedgewick and Hughes families were important merchants who owned warehousing facilities and commission houses as well as general stores.

  1. Davis, Christine, Rices Landing Historic District, nomination document, 1992, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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