June 9, 1900
The steamboat Natoma was officially launched on Harvey’s Lake in northeastern Pennsylvania. The lake, which is one of the largest in Pennsylvania, had developed into a highly popular summer resort by the early 1890s. Steamboats were a major source of the appeal for those vacationing at the resort and the Natoma – a name attributed to a Native American phrase for “Queen of the Waters” – would reign supreme as the largest of those vessels sailing on the lake.
The Natoma, which was built by the Lake Transit Company, measured 18 feet (5.5 meters) in width and 80 feet (24.4 meters) in length. While the other steamboats on the lake had one lifeboat each, the Natoma was equipped with two. The Natoma also had the distinction of being the only fully double-decked steamboat to operate on Harvey’s Lake; she could transport up to 350 passengers on each excursion.
Hundreds of people were on hand for the new steamboat’s Saturday afternoon launching, which took place at four o’clock near the prestigious Oneonta Hotel. After a few blocks were removed so that the Natoma could slide into the water, the steamboat was christened. Julia Raife, the young daughter of the Lake Transit Company’s general manager Philip Raife, performed those honors with a champagne bottle that was tied with red, white, and blue ribbons. “The boat then glided out into the middle of the lake,” reported the Wilkes-Barre Record newspaper.
The Natoma operated at Harvey’s Lake during what many people regard as the heyday for steamboats not only at that location but elsewhere in the United States. The Natoma remained in service at the resort until 1938, when she was placed in permanent dockage. She was dismantled about a decade later.
For more information on the Natoma and other steamboats at Harvey’s Lake, please check out http://harveyslake.org/text/pdf/steamboats.pdf
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