Hiawatha Paddlewheel Riverboat – Williamsport, PA

The Hiawatha, built nearly a century after its namesake, is a paddlewheel excursion boat that cruises up and down the Susquehanna River. It is a tribute to hundreds of Lycoming County businesses and private citizens who supplied monies, labor and materials to create her.

The Hiawatha Paddlewheel Riverboat is just one way in which area residents and visitors can recall the remarkable heritage surrounding the Susquehanna River. Lycoming County is on the beautiful west branch of the Susquehanna. It joins the north branch around 40 miles downstream at Sunbury. It then flows south to Harrisburg and eventually empties into the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Chesapeake Bay.

The original Hiawatha was a steam-driven stern-wheeler that was one of the delights of the summer season. Under the command of Captain Jack English, the shallow draft craft would take Sunday picnickers to Sylvan Dell Park on the south side of the river. Once aboard the new Hiawatha, one can easily imagine the swish of long skirts, the tap-tap of high-buttoned shoes on deck and excited squeals of children as families climbed aboard for Sunday outings. Unfortunately, in the winter of 1914, the original Hiawatha was caught in ice at its Market Street mooring. During the break-up of the ice the following spring, it was heaved and crushed and finally carried away in the flood.

The present-day Hiawatha docks, ticket office and refreshment and souvenir house are located in beautiful Susquehanna State Park. The park has a pavilion and picnic areas complete with grills, restroom facilities, swings, a playground, a public boat launch and free parking. The Hiawatha Pavilion is available for rent with dates and times subject to availability.

The Hiawatha is available for cruises from the beginning of May through October. On public cruises, passengers will listen to a narration which explains the importance of the river during the Lumbering Era. In June, July and August public cruises run Tuesday through Sunday with no cruises on Monday. In May, September and October public cruises are on Saturday and Sunday only. Throughout the season there are also special cruises including Family Night Cruises, Karaoke Cruises, Wing Night Cruises, Brunch and Dinner Cruises, Quizzo Cruises and Concert Cruises. It can also be rented for private parties, weddings and corporate events.

Susquehanna State Park is located at 1 Hiawatha Boulevard in Williamsport. It is easily accessed by taking the Reach Road Exit off of RT 180. Signs will direct visitors to the park. For more information call 570-326-2500.

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