The Steamboat Era
Chapter 1: THE EARLY YEARS 1860-1890
The first steam boats to ply the waters of Harvey’s Lake were small craft usually transferred from service on local rivers. No detailed descriptions of these boats have been found, but all were thirty to forty feet long, had a rigid wood or canvas top with the steam machinery in the center. The later steamers drove a screw propeller unlike the paddle-wheel steamers of the shallow Susquehanna River. During inclement weather, the steamers may have had canvas awnings to protect the passengers.
The earliest steamboat at the Lake was the Wingohocking. It was originally built to serve the river and canal industry on the Susquehanna River in the Nanticoke area. It was taken to the Lake in 1860 to serve the Lake House (later Rhoads Hotel). In 1865 it was sold and taken to a New Jersey lake. In 1876 James W. Rhodes purchased another river steamboat, the Emma, for the Rhodes Hotel. It was a twenty-five foot side-wheeler. Within a couple of years, records of the boat are nonexistent.
Apparently, no additional steamboats were added to the Lake for several years. But in early June 1887 two steamboats were brought to Harvey's Lake to serve the two hotels and the increasing summer trade. James W. Rhoads and Charles Rhoads purchased a small steamer, the Rose, from Edward G. Butzbach, who operated a well-known landing on the Susquehanna River in Hanover Township. Originally called Lena, Butzbach launched the steamer on the Susquehanna River in April 1887 and renamed it. The Rose may have run only one season at the Lake as no record exists of it after 1887.
At the same time, Col. Jacob Rice, who owned the Lake Grove House, launched a steamer called Lily of the Lake. Little is known of the Rice steamer. It came from the Susquehanna River, and its original name may have been Riverside. During the same summer the Rice steamer was purchased by Albert Lewis, a wealthy land owner at the North Corner. Apparently, Lewis ran the steamer on a private basis and not for public fare.
In August 1887 regular passenger excursions began on a railroad which ran from the Wyoming Valley to Alderson. The small steamers of 1887 met the train at Alderson and took guests to the Rhoads and Lake Grove House hotels. The railroad and steamboat rides were a welcome change from the long stagecoach ride to the Lake.
In May 1888 an attractive steamer, the thirty foot Mistletoe, was launched on the Lake by Charles Stanley and John Lloyd of Pittston. The Mistletoe was apparently built on the Hudson River, as it had previously run around Staten Island. The Mistletoe carried about thirty passengers and appeared to serve principally the Rhoads Hotel.
In May 1889 William Bond, of Warden Place, brought another small steamer, City Charter, from Ithaca, New York. The City Charter was forty-one feet long and eight and one-half feet wide with a three-bladed propeller. From 1889 to 1904 the City Charter made regular summer runs on the Lake.
Copyright 2006-2008 F. Charles Petrillo