The 18-year-old Meroney joined Captain Frank Brown in a federal project to make the Yadkin River navigable for steamboats in the 1880s. The adults worked and lived on houseboats, bunking six to a boat. They drilled, blasted, and cleared rock and snags from the riverbed. After five seasons, Brown abandoned the project and returned home to Salisbury, ending the dream of steamboats on the Yadkin. Meroney went on to work at the Mocksville bus station for many years.