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Cruising Through History

Take a trip to Susquehanna National Heritage Area to explore the region and take a tour on the historic Chief Uncas.
By Susquehanna National Heritage Area

It’s a warm, lazy summer day. Seabirds swoop overhead and the green shoreline passes serenely by as the Chief Uncas, a spectacular, one-of-a-kind electric powered boat, glides quietly through the water of the Lower Susquehanna River. June through October, visitors can choose from river discovery boat tours, specialty themed boat tours, or premium sunset cruise tours aboard the historic Chief Uncas, the flagship yacht of the Susquehanna National Heritage Area (SNHA).


SNHA, one of 55 national heritage areas, welcomes visitors to the regions of York and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to explore its historic, natural, and cultural attractions. And there’s perhaps no better way to take it all in then by booking a River Discovery Boat Tour on the Chief Uncas.

Built for Adolphus Busch (co-founder of the famous American beer Company) to enjoy cruises at his family’s summer estate on Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York, Chief Uncas is a classic 1912 electric-powered, wood boat. The 112-year-old historic vessel is 55-feet long with a nine-a-half-foot beam and weighs 12 tons. The boat was converted to a gas engine in the 1950s before being restored back to electric in 2012. Chief Uncas began a new chapter in its life in 2021 providing River Discovery Boat Tours and welcoming Pennsylvania tourists.

Today, Chief Uncas offers an inspiring perspective on the Susquehanna—one of the world’s oldest rivers. Elegantly outfitted with an all-mahogany hull and deckhouse, the ship is powered by twin electric motors, so visitors can expect the voyage to be remarkably quiet. And guests can personalize their experience aboard the historic Chief Uncas and explore the Susquehanna on one of SNHA’s specialty themed tours or premium sunset cruises.

June is the perfect time to visit as it is the season for Riverfest, an annual event that celebrates the region’s place in American Civil War history with food, live music, special heritage tours, and more. This year’s event will run all weekend long, June 28, 29, 30.


River Discovery Boat Tour tickets are available online and offer a diversity of experiences:

    River Discovery Boat Tours: SNHA guides provide a 1-hour tour for 22 passengers. Explore the scenic Susquehanna River landscape, abundant wildlife, and history through stories of the past and present. Ticket Rates: $24 Adults, $22 Seniors (65+), $12 Youth (5-17 years), and $5 Children under 5 years.


    Themed Boat Tours: SNHA guides provide a 1-hour themed tour for 22 passengers. Themed tours are available at special times throughout the season and highlight interesting heritage stories not covered in the River Discovery tour. Tour themes include Civil War, Native Peoples, Wildlife, and Haunted Heritage. Ticket Rates: River Discover Boat Tour.


    Sunset Cruise: A 1.5-hour sunset tour for 14 passengers (bring your own snacks, cider, beer, or wine). Experience the joy of being on the water for an extended ride, learn stories of the river, and enjoy spectacular views while making unforgettable memories under the setting sun. Ticket Rates: $50.00 per person.


When the cruise is complete, visitors can step off the boat and into Susquehanna National Heritage Area and spend the day exploring unique shops and undiscovered gems in the river towns, visit over two dozen heritage sites and museums, discover the tastes of the region, or plan an adventure on over 100 miles of trails, 50-plus nature preserves, and 10 scenic overlooks in the Susquehanna National Heritage Area.



There is much to explore so reserve your seat today. Purchase River Discovery Boat Tour tickets online.