PHOTO via American Queen Steamboat Company
The Ohio River often seems relegated to play second fiddle to the Mississippi, of which it is a tributary. And while nobody can minimize the awesome power and majesty of the mighty Mississippi, the Ohio River can certainly hold its own as an impressive and captivating waterway with much potential for an enjoyable voyage.
Winding through or alongside six states—and with a drainage basin that flows to more than a dozen states—the Ohio River’s path takes you on a journey through a rich and diverse segment of the country, offering travelers the chance to explore a variety of different landscapes and beautiful views. It serves as a major route through the eastern and central part of the United States, and functions as the boundary marker between several states.
For many centuries, this river served as a favored transportation and trading route used by Native Americans, who also established numerous camps and communities alongside its path. Thomas Jefferson is quoted as calling it “the most beautiful river on earth,” citing the smooth, clear and gentle flow of water the river boasted in a nearly unobstructed and undisturbed path in his day.
One fascinating aspect of this river is its almost transformative properties. It seems to have the ability to transcend not only historical eras but also climates. Due to its unique geographical layout, it stretches across a number of distinct individual climate zones. Its southernmost segment tends to have hot and humid conditions most of the year and is virtually ice-free all the time. At the other end, the section near Pittsburgh regularly freezes during cold snaps in winter.
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This wide spectrum of environmental conditions also means the Ohio River provides a wealth of diverse species of life both in the water and alongside of it. There are many different types of fish and aquatic creatures, plus an impressive assortment of floral and plant life.
Not surprisingly, this makes a cruise along the Ohio River a popular option for people who want to journey through a part of the country that presents something different at every turn. American Queen Steamboat Company offers several cruise options for travelers eager to explore this region. As an example, there’s the Bourbon-themed cruise running from Memphis to Louisville that gives you an inside look at the history of this centuries-old tradition.
For a unique experience, you can opt to travel with American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman, John Waggoner, and his wife, Claudette, on a round-trip cruise from their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, on the appropriately-titled Chairman’s Cruise.
Or travel back in time to a nostalgic era when you hop aboard the 50s and 60s Remembered cruise, which immerses guests into the music, pop culture and entertainment events of that period. Rock around the clock to the sounds of Motown and legendary artists like Chuck Berry and Fats Domino as you journey from Louisville to Alton (near St. Louis).
There are also several Music of America cruises, along with trips specifically devoted to the autumn colors or the study of the Civil War.