Steve Golding’s involvement with and dedication to the barge industry for nearly 30 years and counting has earned him the National Rivers Hall of Fame Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Hall of Fame for individuals making significant contributions to America’s waterways. Golding was awarded at the annual Waterways Symposium, hosted by Waterways Council, Inc., on Tuesday, Nov. 14 in New Orleans, La.
Golding started his career working on the drydocks at his father, Thomas’, shipyard Big River Shipyard at the age of 15. Golding grew up around the river and his first full-time job on the river was as a tankerman and licensed steersman. He then started boarding boats at Ole Man River Towing before he went on to lead the barge line at 23 years old, eventually selling it to Kirby Corporation in 1992.
Not staying out of the barge industry long, Golding founded Golding Barge Line in 1996. When it first opened, Golding barge owned and leased boats or barges but did not operate any and started out with its headquarters being at an outlet mall. With his previous experience in the industry, many of his colleagues signed on to work with his company and Golding Barge Line grew.
Today, Golding and his wife, Melody, carry on the family business, with their son Austin entering the inland barge business in 2009. Golding Barge Line has around 330 employees with many working on nearly 100 custom built boats and barges.
The Golding family has long felt the positive impact of America’s waterways and gives back where they can, including donating land to form a new park in Vicksburg so the public can experience the breathtaking views of the riverfront. The Golding family hopes their donation keeps communities engaged on the rivers, connecting people to their history, and encourages understanding of the personal daily impacts of the river.
Golding credits the industry for acting as a big family to help each other out. It is the same commitment that Golding holds himself to and has dedicated himself to speaking to government leaders about helping mariners and supporting programs that educate people about the maritime industry.