Meet Captain Mary Millicent Miller: The Portland resident who, in 1884, became the first woman licensed to captain a steamboat in the United States!

  • Appropriate Ages: all ages
  • Arts & Culture Discipline: Museum

At Portland Museum, you can “meet” Captain Mary Miller and hear her unique story thanks to an animatronic, an electronic puppet, created in the mid-1980s using a store mannequin retrofitted with mechanical components and modeled after a woodblock print of Mary Miller’s portrait. The animatronic is further powered with the help of a small air compressor.

With recent facility changes, we have undertaken the feat of relocating the animatronic and her “boat” so that Captain Mary Miller’s story fits within our permanent exhibit’s timeline. So, stop by the museum to see Captain Miller in person! (Note: due to COVID-19 precautions, we have removed the button that allowed visitors to start the animatronic.)

Below is a copy of Captain Miller’s portrait, a video of her animatronic performance, and a typed version of her biography. Enjoy!

  • The More You Know: Captain Miller was honored in 2017 by the City of Louisville through the naming of the Mary M. Miller, a 350-person riverboat deemed the little sister of the Belle of Louisville.

Click HERE to read her biography (opens a new window)

The 2020 Virtual Cultural Pass is presented in partnership with Metro Louisville, Greater Louisville Arts and Culture Alliance, Louisville Free Public Library, and the Fund for the Arts. Click HERE to learn about the Fund for the Arts’ Cultural Lou Recovery campaign.