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The Gambler was built by it's owner Captain Gary E. (ol' Mort) Morton and family. It all began in 1982 on my birthday, September 10. The family and I attended the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival in Marietta, Ohio. Like most of the rest, we sat on the bank, looked at the boats and watched them race. Those paddlewheelers sure looked interesting and looked like they would be a lot of fun. An idea began to form. My sons, Shane and Rhett, were 11 and 9 years old and I was looking for something we could do as a family where they could learn some skills, we could develop comradery and everyone could enjoy the fruits of their labor. This would be it. We would build a sternwheel riverboat. After all, how tough could it be? I joined the American Sternwheel Association and, over the next several months, went to meetings, talked to those who had built boats and toted pounds of drawings around seeking advice. There certainly wasn't any problem getting advice, however, I did have a bit of trouble deciding which advice to follow. Nevertheless, I persevered and the drawings were completed and the project started.
We began with a pile of steel.
Then we had to prepare a site to build it on.
We had to be sure that everything was right.
We were finally ready to start building. First, we laid the bottom plates, adjusted the lap and welded the seams on that side.
We hired a 'real welder' to weld the seams.
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