Celebrating 200 Years of Steamboating in Pawtucket, Rhode Island

By Staff

From the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council ,640 George
Washington Hwy, Lincoln, Rhode Island 02865.

Historic and reproduction steamboats from the United States and
Canada converged on Pawtucket, Rhode Island this summer to take
part in the first International Steamboat Muster, August 21-23,
1992. The city celebrated 200 years of steamboating on the
Pawtucket Harbor along the Blackstone River Valley National
Heritage Corridor.

Celebrated was the ride along the Seekonk River to Pawtucket, in
the experimental steamboat built in 1792 by Elijah Ormsbee of
Providence, Rhode Island with the help of David Wilkinson of
Pawtucket, R.I. This event took place fifteen years prior to Robert
Fulton’s operating his steamboat to Clermont in the Hudson
River Valley, New York.

Thousands of residents and visitors lined the waterfront to view
the operating steam launches. The riverfront looked as it had in
the 1800s. Riverboat tours of the Pawtucket Harbor brought
passengers up close to the steam boats,

Waterfront activities took place Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to
6 p.m., and included an authentic Rhode Island shore dinner, ice
cream treats, Fine Arts and Traditional Crafts Fair, New England
Riverfront Music Festival with Country Dancing, special
commemorative postal stamp cancellation, and exposition tent with
exhibits and information booths.

During the week preceding the Muster, Pawtucket celebrated Steam
Days with a Steamboat Film Festival at the Public Library, Steam
Day at the Children’s Museum, and Art, Model and History of
Steam displays at the Slater Mill Historic Site.

The weekend’s activities steamed up Friday evening with
Governor Bruce Sundlun opening the festivities. The 18-piece Navy
Show Band gave an outdoor concert, sponsored by the Slater Mill
Historic Site, at the Hodgson Rotary Park along the Blackstone
River.

The Muster featured the 10th Annual Antique and Classic Boat
Show and Meet, sponsored by Beckmann Limited, of Wakefield, Rhode
Island, builders of steam launches and tugboats. Twenty steam
powered water-craft participated in the weekend’s
activities.

Next year, the Second Annual International Steamboat Muster will
take place on August 20-22,1993 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. For
further information call (401) 334-7773 or write the Blackstone
Valley Tourism Council, P.O. Box 7663, Cumberland, Rhode Island
02864.

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