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Lake County BCC
315 West Main St.
P.O. Box 7800
Tavares, Florida 32778

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Steamboat meet to return to Lake County the third week of March

RELEASE DATE: March 2, 2007

TAVARES — More than a dozen steamboats will return to Lake County March 19-23 for the seventh annual Harris Chain of Lakes Steamboat Meet.

The steamboat meet will begin at the docks of Harbor Side Restaurant, located at 3351 W. Burleigh Blvd. in Tavares. Typically each day during the week, the steamboat captains will depart from the restaurant docks by 10 a.m. and steam to different locations along the Harris Chain of Lakes for lunch, returning in mid-afternoon. The public is welcome to stop by and see the steamboats and visit with the captains.

The steamboats are towed to Lake County from all over the country, including New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Florida.

In the late 1800s, steamboats were a popular method of travel around Lake County, however, unlike the steam locomotive, small steamboats never caught on around the country. The golden age of steamboats lasted only a scant 30 years, from 1870-1890. In general, small steamboats were used in remote areas around the world where water transportation preceded roads or railways.

Steamboat travel was particularly important locally. The Palatlakaha and Ocklawaha rivers, in addition to the Clermont and Harris chain of lakes, allowed farmers to ship their produce north to Jacksonville. Once the fresh fruit and vegetables reached Jacksonville, it was transferred to rail and shipped across the nation.

The annual steamboat meet is organized by Clarence and Gayle Myers. The Myers are snowbirds from Ohio that winter in the City of Tavares. Their 30-foot steamer is a one-of-a-kind, as the couple built their own 1896 replica steamboat. A steamboat does not use gasoline. A big boiler, or “tea kettle,” provides power to the engine. According to Clarence, a milk crate of wood will fire the boiler on his boat for about an hour.

For more information about the Harris Chain of Lakes Steamboat Meet, call the Myers at (419) 878-6051 or e-mail Myersmodel@aol.com.


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