We in the Ohio Valley are extremely and rightly proud of our heritage. During the summer months a variety of special events and festivals are held to celebrate it.
None is more fitting, in a way, than the annual Wheeling Heritage Port Sternwheel Festival. It celebrates the all-important link between many Ohio Valley towns and cities and the Ohio River. Without the river and the commerce that moves up and down it, our valley would never have achieved the prosperity that blessed us for many generations.
The festival brings to Heritage Port old-fashioned sternwheel riverboats of the type that once cruised the river by the hundreds. Now, just a handful are left, almost all in private hands.
The care those hands have lavished on the old boats is impressive. They are beautiful boats, some with gleaming brass fixtures and brightly painted paddlewheels. They are living history.
Continuing through tonight, the festival offers many attractions in addition to a window into our past. Some of the sternwheeler owners travel great distances to attend the local event. They and festival organizers, volunteers and sponsors are to be commended for keeping alive the spirit that made the Ohio Valley great.