PENNSYLVANIA: Hell at the Dock

Rivermen have a saying that Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle harbor—where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers meet to form the Ohio—is "great for towboats but hell on showboats." It was hell last week on one of the biggest, whitest and trimmest of U.S. inland excursion steamers, the Island Queen.

A five-deck sidewheeler with a 20,000-sq.-ft. dance floor, the Island Queen operated out of Cincinnati, where for years she had made daily summertime trips to an amusement park called Coney Island. When the Coney Island season closed on Labor Day, she went barnstorming upriver, booked...

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