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Photo by Joyce Sanders

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9/19/17 Article changes – The Rafter Clyde II is in dry dock for maintenance and will NOT be making the trip to Frankfort, Kentucky. However, arrangements have been made to tour the boats and even receive FREE boat rides via the Steam Launch Miss Blue (seats 6), the Nancy Wilkinson (seats 8), and the KSU Thorobred (seats 10 – 40). These rides are by reservation only. See below for scheduling and phone numbers. Also, added photos submitted by the organizers of the KY River Ramble and have been added to the slideshow gallery below.

On Saturday, September 23, 2017, three rather unique boats will begin a journey that will travel over two hundred miles: taking them through two states and two rivers. These boats are not your average weekend recreational craft. The first is a replica steamboat built to resemble a rafter used on the upper MIssissippi River in the late 1800’s. The second is a seventy-eight year old retired and restored former Army Corps of Engineers towboat. The third boat is the oldest and smallest of the three, built in 1910 New York and is steam powered. The reason for this journey is not all that unusual. Since the opening of the first four locks on the Kentucky River, the crew on these boats have considered this trip as a bucket list item. The trip will take them from Aurora, Indiana on the Ohio River, down the Ohio to Carrollton, Kentucky. It’s at Carrollton that the boats will make a hard left turn into the Kentucky River and begin their transit of four of the late 1830’s built locks, some of the oldest navigable locks in the United States. Once the boats reach Frankfort, they will spend the week tied up at Riverview Park. Visitors will be welcome to come to the park and onto the dock to see the boats. However, we will not be allowing people on board the boats themselves. The following weekend the boats will depart Frankfort for the return trip back home.


Miss Blue

Built in 1910 in Clayton, New York, Miss Blue is an authentic steam launch. She is 22 feet long and burns charcoal and wood in her boiler. She can be steered both from the front pilot’s seat or from the engineer’s seat behind the boiler. Miss Blue has traveled to many river events including those in Louisville, Kentucky and Marietta, Ohio.

Photo by Tom Schiffer


Rafter Clyde II

We are sorry to report that, as of Sept. 19, 2017, this boat will not be making the trip. We still appreciate the history and the story that was originally submitted, however.

The CLYDE was the dream of her builder, Ed Newcomb of Wisconsin. Ed’s ancestors worked on the original Clyde, which was the first iron hulled steamboat on the Mississippi River. The current Clyde was completed in 2001, built from scratch using techniques common in the late 1800’s. She has been called the most authentic raft steamboat model ever built. She currently belongs to Captain Don Sanders, former Captain of the steamboats Delta Queen and Belle of Louisville. The Clyde is CAptain Don’s personal sternwheeler and is docked in Aurora, Indiana when she’s not traveling the inland rivers.

Photo by Rafter Clyde II


Elizabeth Lea

Built in 1939 by the St. Croix Shipbuilders, the Elizabeth Lea was formerly named the Joseph Throckmorton, after an upper Mississippi River pioneer. The boat was built as a dredge tender and aided with dredging operations for the St. Paul Army Corps of Engineers. In the 1990’s, the boat was auctioned off and went into public ownership. By 2003, she was pulled out unto the riverbank and was rusting away. From 2004 through 2014, the boat underwent a complete restoration in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she was returned to operating condition. She is 42′ long, 12′ wide, and draws 32″ of water. The boat is powered by a single Detroit Diesel 8 cylinder engine making 265 horsepower. The boat is docked in Aurora, Indiana when she is not out attending festivals, sharing her history and the importance of river transportation with the general public.

Photo by Motor Vessel Elizabeth Lea


Kentucky River Ramble Schedule

(Schedule may change due to weather, river conditions, or other delays)

Saturday, September 23

Boats depart Aurora, Indiana, lock through Kentucky River Lock #1

Sunday, September 24

Boats transit locks #2, #3, and #4 arriving in Frankfort late evening

Monday, September 25

10:00 amBoats at Riverview Park open for viewing, Riverview Park Boat Dock, Frankfort, Kentucky (NO TOURS)

KSU Thorobred departs (IF BOOKED, seats 10 – 40 people, FREE, call 502.597.6421)

Nancy Wilkinson boards (seats up to 8, FREE, call 502.229.1887)

12:00 pmKSU Thorobred departs (IF BOOKED, seats 10 – 40 people, FREE, call 502.597.6421)

2:00 pm – KSU Thorobred departs (IF BOOKED, seats 10 – 40 people, FREE, call 502.597.6421)

Tuesday, September 26

10:00 amBoats at Riverview Park open for viewing, at Riverview Park Boat Dock

Miss Blue Tour (Approximately 20 minute boat tour, seats 6, FREE, call 502.352.2028)

11:30 am – Miss Blue Tour (Approximately 20 minute boat tour, seats 6, FREE, call 502.352.2028)

1:00 pm – Miss Blue Tour (Approximately 20 minute boat tour, seats 6, FREE, call 502.352.2028)

Wednesday, September 27

10:00 amBoats at Riverview Park open for viewing, Riverview Park Boat Dock, Frankfort, Kentucky (NO TOURS)

KSU Thorobred departs (IF BOOKED, seats 10 – 40 people, FREE, call 502.597.6421)

Nancy Wilkinson boards (seats up to 8, FREE, call 502.229.1887)

12:00 pm KSU Thorobred departs (IF BOOKED, seats 10 – 40 people, FREE, call 502.597.6421)

2:00 pm – KSU Thorobred departs (IF BOOKED, seats 10 – 40 people, FREE, call 502.597.6421)

6:00 pm – Nancy Wilkinson boards (seats up to 8, FREE, call 502.229.1887)

Thursday, September 28

10:00 am Boats at Riverview Park open for viewing, at Riverview Park Boat Dock

Miss Blue Tour (Approximately 20 minute boat tour, seats 6, FREE, call 502.352.2028)

11:30 am – Miss Blue Tour (Approximately 20 minute boat tour, seats 6, FREE, call 502.352.2028)

1:00 pm – Miss Blue Tour (Approximately 20 minute boat tour, seats 6, FREE, call 502.352.2028)

Friday, September 29

Boats depart Riverview Park, Frankfort, Kentucky, and head for their home port. 

10:00 am – KSU departs (IF BOOKED, seats 10 – 40 people, FREE, call 502.597.6421)

Nancy Wilkinson boards (seats up to 8, FREE, call 502.229.1887)

12:00 pmKSU Thorobred departs (IF BOOKED, seats 10 – 40 people, FREE, call 502.597.6421)

2:00 pm – KSU Thorobred departs (IF BOOKED, seats 10 – 40 people, FREE, call 502.597.6421)

Sunday, October 1

Boats arrive back at their home port of Aurora, Indiana

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