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From Our Editors
In 1969, the founder of Padelford Packet Boat Co. Inc., Captain William D. Bowell, Sr., launched the Jonathan Padelford steamwheeler into the Mississippi River, hoping to bring visitors to the riverfront for leisurely jaunts that harkened back to simpler times. After more than 30 years of growing his fleet and ferrying passengers down the historic waterways, he handed the reigns over to his daughters and nephew. Today, the family operates five boats with amenities such as dance areas, bars, sun decks, and the nostalgia that William hoped to keep alive. With the Twin Cities' skyline and the rugged, green banks of the river as the backdrop, US Coast Guard–licensed vessels float passengers past sights such as Pig's Eye Cave, Fort Snelling, and Pike Island. Some cruises also include dinner or fireworks, and special holiday cruises are also available. The company also offers private charters for unique party opportunities, including weddings set before the city's waterfront sites.