When Hugh Moore Park almost got a “Swan” Boat
by NCM Historian, Martha Capwell Fox
If you’ve ever been to the Boston Public Gardens, read Make Way for Ducklings, or seen the ballet Swan Lake or the opera Lohengrin, you’re familiar with swan boats. Nowadays you can even rent pedal boats shaped like swans in several places around the country including Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia.
Right after the Lehigh Navigation opened in 1829, a mule-drawn packet boat named Swan began to carry passengers up and down the canal between Bethlehem and Mauch Chunk. The boat left Bethlehem at 6:30 AM on Mondays and Thursdays, took a full day to reach Mauch Chunk, and returned on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The round-trip cost $1.50 and included dinner and “liquors of the various kinds and the best quality” according to a photograph of an advertisement in the NCM archives. Nothing else appears to be known about this Swan but a boat with the same name and appearance began operations on the Whitewater Canal between Cincinatti, Ohio and Hagerstown, Indiana in 1843. (The Indiana Historian, Summer, 1997.)
In 1975, trustees of the Friends of Hugh Moore Park started thinking about a boat to carry visitors on the soon-to-be-rewatered Section 8 of the canal in the Park. Their first idea was to re-create the Swan, and in August of that year they presented a proposal and a scale model of what would have been a 70-foot, mule-drawn boat to Easton City Council. (Hugh Moore Park and the section of the canal are Easton city property.)
Apparently, council didn’t approve, because in August of 1976, the trustees bought a two-year-old replica Delaware & Hudson Canal excursion boat in Honesdale for $1000. Then named the A. Emerson, the boat was donated to the city in March, 1977, and became our first canal boat, the Josiah White.