Valley Gem Riverboat Visits Huntington, WV

The State Journal
15 October 2015
By James E. Casto

The Valley Gem, a Marietta, Ohio-based riverboat, will visit Huntington from Oct. 29 through Nov. 8.

Docked at Huntington’s Harris Riverfront Park, the sternwheeler will offer a schedule of public sightseeing tours, dinner cruises and a Halloween murder mystery dinner theater.

Tyson Compton, president of the Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he hopes a successful Huntington stay will convince the boat’s owners to look at Huntington as a permanent business location.

“In addition to our indelible rail history, there is nothing that speaks more to development of the Jewel City than its relationship with the Ohio River,” Compton said in a news release. “I can’t think of a more exciting opportunity to experience our region than viewing it from the deck of the Valley Gem.”

An authentic sternwheeler that can accommodate 200 passengers, the Valley Gem was launched in 1989 by Capt. James Sands Sr. and his wife Peggy. Sands died in 1998. His wife retired in 2003, turning the family river business over to their son, Jason, who has been a licensed river pilot since 1992 and the Gem’s captain for more than 15 years.

“Huntington has a clear vision and direction for the future, and we are excited to be a part of exploring that future and share our love of the river and the Valley Gem,” he said.

iHeartMedia is sponsoring the 10-day event and the CVB is partnering with the City of Huntington and the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District to make the visit of the sternwheeler possible.

“Our riverfront has been extremely busy during the past year with numerous activities, and it’s exciting to see the Valley Gem sternwheeler added to an already impressive list,” Mayor Steve Williams said. “With the redevelopment of our riverfront on the horizon, this trend will undoubtedly continue.”

Visit or call the CVB at 304-525-7333 or 800-635-6329 for ticket information.