Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Traveling West Virginia: The Belle of Cincinnati

It was windy on board! My hair flew around so much
I probably looked like a wild woman. But who cared?
We've been doing a lot of sight-seeing in the past few weeks, and intentionally so. We have a lot of places on our bucket lists and it's time to start marking some of them off the list.

I have always wanted to take a trip on a riverboat. Not one of the smaller steamers but one of those big boats from the heyday of river travel when theaters, bands and other entertainment floated from town to town, bringing new shows and experiences to the rural population. Most such trips, like those offered on the American Queen or the Delta Queen, are out of our financial reach, but then I read about a dinner cruise being offered by the River Museum of Point Pleasant (WV) aboard the Belle of Cincinnati. Now this was something we could do! So I called, bought tickets, and we waited for the big day.

We drove down to Point Pleasant Monday evening, and had no trouble finding where the boat was loading. Those tall stacks gave away the location pretty easily, as did the droves of people heading toward the levee. (The Point Pleasant levee, by the way, is worth a visit all by itself with its stunning, long mural that depicts the history of the area. You can see a bit of it here, in an earlier post.)

We ran into friends as soon as we arrived. Poet Kirk Judd and his wife were taking the trip too, as was old-time musician, author and square dance caller Mack Samples and his wife. West Virginia really is just one small town--we almost always see someone we know wherever we go. There were hundreds of people boarding, a good sign, I thought, for the River Museum since they put on the cruise as a fundraiser.

Boarding was relaxed and casual, and dinner was served buffet-style on two levels of the boat, so we had choices of places to sit. Every table had a view of the river. Dinner was leisurely and as the wait staff began to clear the boat left the dock, heading downriver.

The Ohio deserves her name, "beautiful river." This night she was in showcase form, with light clouds scudding in the sky, the water rippling gently and the sun's last rays sending gentle gold across the scene.

We identified landmarks we recognized,

and I particularly enjoyed seeing bridges from a new perspective--the underside. It was surprisingly rusty under there. Hmmm. I wondered if this was cause for alarm, particularly since this bridge is the replacement for the doomed Silver Bridge that collapsed into the icy river in December 1967.

It surprised me how loud the bridges were. The smokestacks were lowered as we passed under. Pretty cool.

There was even royalty on board--Miss Tourism, I believe her banner said. I was delighted to see a red-haired queen; it seems to me that redheads get short shrift in beauty contests, something that really puzzles me. This young lady was stunning and gracious.

It was almost full dark by the time we returned. I'd explored pretty much every inch of the boat during the trip.

We did not partake of the offered dancing--the singer was the typical lounge singer, doing 60's and 70's numbers but I was more interested in the water, the scenery and the boat.

All in all, it was a fine trip, and I'd like to go again. I hope the museum continues to offer this opportunity to travel the river in the old-time way. It was a real treat.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


warren said...

Did you lick the bell?

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

That sounds great, Sue, and what a beautiful time of day to be on the river.

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