By November 4, 2015 Read More →

Huntington residents enjoy boat ride, a little history

Photo for The Herald-Dispatch by Toril Lavender  Benjamin Baisden gets to sit at the pilot's wheel with Capt. Don Sanford, who has been piloting The Valley Gem Sternwheeler since 1985. Sanford says he loves the river and the boat because no two rides are ever alike thanks to the ever-changing river and guests.

Photo for The Herald-Dispatch by Toril Lavender
Benjamin Baisden gets to sit at the pilot’s wheel with Capt. Don Sanford, who has been piloting The Valley Gem Sternwheeler since 1985. Sanford says he loves the river and the boat because no two rides are ever alike thanks to the ever-changing river and guests.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — There was hardly a cloud in the sky Tuesday afternoon, but several lucky people found a rainbow anyway. Formed off the spray of the Valley Gem Sternwheeler, the mist-made rainbow was one of the many reasons dozens of folks enjoyed a lunchtime cruise aboard the paddlewheel boat.

On their very first sternwheeler ride, Flatwoods, Ky., residents Emmett and Owen Boggess, 14 and 12, found the rainbow and the paddlewheel’s refreshing mist.

“I liked watching the paddlewheel spray water back in your face,” Owen said with a smile.

 Normally based out of Marietta, the 157-foot-long, 25-foot-wide Valley Gem is based in Huntington for five more days of cruises out of port of Huntington at Harris Riverfront Park. Like Tuesday’s lunchtime cruise, Wednesday’s noon to 1:30 p.m. trip also is accompanied with a forecast of unseasonably warm temperatures and a splash of color commentary by river expert and author Jerry Sutphin.

Sutphin has amassed one of the region’s greatest private collections of steamboat photographs and memorabilia. In 2011, Sutphin teamed up with the Huntington Museum of Art and various private collectors for an exhibit, “Mary H. and the late J. Churchill Hodges Present ‘On Inland Waters: Steamboats on the Ohio River 1811-2011.'”

He was also one of nine essayists whose work is featured in the Indiana Historical Society book, “Full Steam Ahead: Reflections on the Impact of the first Steamboat on the Ohio River 1811-2011,” and has produced several historical DVDs including a history of the Delta Queen.

That DVD is for sale in the Valley Gem gift shop area.

On Tuesday, Sutphin brought history to life for passengers…

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