Take in the beauty of the Fox Valley this summer aboard an historic paddlewheel riverboat – an iconic attraction in St. Charles for more than 75 years.
This recreational activity that has spanned generations began in 1945 when the late Chet Anderson bought his first paddlewheel riverboat to charter cruises up and down the Fox River. Docked off Pottawatomie Park, the riverboat cruises became a family business for more than 70 years. When Chet Anderson’s son, Rich Anderson, retired in 2019, the St. Charles Park District purchased the business and continues to carry on its legacy.
“For 75 years, the paddlewheel riverboat cruises have been a symbol of pride and tradition in the community,” said Tera Harvey, Manager of Cruise Operations. “The park district keeps that sentiment top of mind, as we create programming to honor the past but also give patrons new experiences when they set sail down the Fox River.”
This summer the Park District will honor and celebrate this rich history with various programming and cruises to keep the tradition alive, while giving residents a one-of-a-kind experience to take in the natural surroundings of the Fox River.
In partnership with the St. Charles History Museum, Pottawatomie Community Center will provide an exhibit to showcase the history, timeline and many features and artifacts of the paddlewheel riverboat cruises in St. Charles.
But the history won’t stop there, as the public cruises on either the Fox River Queen or St. Charles Belle II tell stories from the past. While taking in the scenery through the windows below or the upper, open-air deck, residents will learn about the Pottawatomi tribe that roamed the banks of the shore prior to St. Charles settlement; historic landmarks including Pottawatomie Park, its 9-hole golf course, Boy Scout Island, Ferson Creek Fen and Norris Woods; as well as, community lore regarding Al Capone’s infamous “hideaway,” and other tales from the past. This 50-minute, 4-mile cruise heads north from Pottawatomie Park to the Q Center and back.
Additionally, other recurring cruises include Live Storytelling Public Tours for all ages in partnership with local organizations to share a special story about the history of St. Charles or life in the Fox Valley.
The popular date night experience is back, as the riverboats will include both Sunset Cruises for all ages and BYOB Sunset Cruises for ages 21 and older.
Little sailors won’t be left out, either. Set Sail for Story Time will give children the opportunity to throw on their pajamas, enjoy cookies and juice, while listening to a boat-themed picture book by a special narrator, all during a sunset sail. This cruise, and all public cruises, include children’s activities with sailor hats and eye spy activities.
Special one-time cruises will take place this summer as well, including Happy History Hour, Riverboat Eco Cruise, Monarchs and Margaritas, Yoga and Cruise, Moonlight Cruise, Pirate Adventure Cruise and more.
All programming may be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, so please check the website for cruise events, times and locations: www.stcriverboats.com