Tuesday, January 3, 2012
The Lorena Sternwheeler, 1895
I’m hoping that this is the same Lorena Sternwheeler that is moored at Zane's Landing Park at the west end of Market Street in downtown Zanesville. The boat, offering excursions on the Muskingum River, was launched in 1895 and named for a famous Civil War love ballad written in 1857.
She can carry seventy-five passengers and is one hundred-four feet long, seventeen feet wide. The hull is sixty-nine feet and draws two and a half feet of water. The Lorena weighs over fifty-nine tons and remarkably, is available for dinner cruises, birthday parties, anniversaries, lunch cruises, twilight cruises and charters.
This Muskingum County treasure travels up the Historic Muskingum River Water Trail and offers a relaxed and pleasant ride through wide waters, passing scenic woodlands just the way our ancestors did. She has carried governors, Miss Americas, Anita Bryant, Pat Boone, and the Imperials. Newspapers throughout the world write about the Lorena extensively. Worldwide coverage came when the Lorena survived the "Blizzard of 1978.” The riverboat was within a quarter-inch of capsizing.
Lorena was an antebellum song with Northern origins. Pastor Henry De Lafayette Webster of Zanesville, Ohio, was jilted by his sweetheart, Ella Blockson, after her family pressured her to break their engagement. The heartbroken clergyman wrote a long poem about Ella but changed her name to "Lorena," an adaptation of "Lenore" from Edgar Allan Poe's macabre poem, "The Raven."
Webster's friend, Joseph Philbrick Webster (no relation), wrote the music and the song was first published in Chicago in 1857. It became a favorite of Confederate soldiers; after the war many Southern women were named "Lorena."