Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Pride of the Susquehanna

The front of the Pride's wheelhouse.
The Susquehanna River, at 464 miles in length, is the longest river on the U. S. Atlantic Seaboard, and the 16th largest in the country.  At its southern end, it pours into the Chesapeake Bay at Havre de Grace, Maryland, to provide half of the Chesapeake’s freshwater inflow.               
While in Pennsylvania following our aborted trip on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, we spent most of a day at City Island in Harrisburg.  City Island is a favorite tourist and recreational destination in Harrisburg, and is reached by the Market Street Bridge.  It is beautiful and remarkable by virtue of the activities there, but also because of its survival through some of the city’s worst weather and floods.
The Pride going under the Market Street bridge, Harrisburg, PA.
Our daughter took us on a cruise aboard The Pride of the Susquehanna, a real stern-wheeler built in 1988 by a local non-profit group.  It is one of only 6 or 7 real paddle stern-wheelers in the country, which means it is both propelled and steered by exclusive use of the paddlewheels. During the 45 minute cruise, a thorough history of the river and city are narrated as the city slides by.  The cruise takes place in a substantial pool of the river between the rapids on one end and a dam at the other.  Between cruises, weddings, receptions, dinner cruises, murder mystery cruises, school classroom experiences, the Pride has carried nearly a million people along the waterfront.  Unfortunately, the organizers fail to realize that many people go on the vessel because they are more enamored by the boat than the city.  While I can find vast promotions for the cruises, I remain starved for anything about the vessel, dimensions, power, or construction history, so all I can relate is that it was indeed a nice trip.
The General being serviced between trips.
We also rode the General, a civil-war era 2-foot gauge Crown Metal steam locomotive and train built in 1985.  It is billed as a kids’ train ride, but I think we all enjoyed it equally.  During the layover at the station, I had to chance to talk with the engineer, who related his experience in operating and maintaining the engine, and the training he had to take to learn his job.  Its tracks carry passengers on a ride around the perimeter of City Island.    



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