Posted by: Debra LaValley | July 10, 2011

July 10, 2011

The River Lady

I happened upon this riverboat yesterday evening. I went for a drive with Uncle Ralph, and on the way back from Beech Hill Farm for an ice cream, I decided to ride along West Parish Road for the view and then down Broad Cove Road. We saw this cool paddle wheel boat cruising up the Contoocook River. I tried to get a photo, but the trees were in the way – so I drove around to Runnells Road where we had a perfect view of the River Lady.

They just don’t make boats like this any more. In the early 1900s – during the days of the Contoocook Island River Park – the Modena cruised up and down the Contoocook. My Grandmother La Valley used to tell me wonderful stories about the Park. Folks from all over New England came to enjoy The Island and boat along the Contoocook. The Contoocook River is my favorite river. It is the quintessential old-fashioned New England river. There are rope swings and swimming holes and old (and new) cottages lining the banks. In the summer, it is in its glory. Tall pine trees line the water’s edge. There is a lot of wildlife in and around the river. The best thing about the Contoocook River is that it is a lazy-relaxing river. It is really a no wake river because of its width so it is perfect for slow-moving boats, kayaks, and canoes. You don’t have to worry about being run down by a speedboat or someone on a jet-ski. It is so peaceful to sit in a kayak or canoe and just glide along the river. That reminds me! I have to get my kayak out and put it in at The Island and enjoy a nice paddle soon!

The Landing Contoocook River Park (Modena shown, I believe)


  1. Great pix and story. Do you have any idea why this boat was here? Do they do river tours???

    • I believe the riverboat was launched last spring. I am trying to find out more about it. It appears to be privately owned and not for tours. I wish they did tours. I would love to ride in it!

  2. The boat is privately owned by a family that resides along the river. It was a project that started awhile back with the help of family and friends of the owners (everyone that was involved in this project is a part of the Contoocook River community). The boat is all handmade and took many hours/years to assemble. I hope this helps.

    • Hi Zach,
      Shortly after I saw the riverboat – I was able to meet Wendy and Harold and was treated to a ride one very warm evening. They said I could invite a couple friends and they took us for a very long cruise up the Contoocook. We all had a marvelous time. I framed the photo and gave them each one. They are very interesting and nice folk and they have invited me to go again this year. I loved hearing them explain how they built the boat, etc. Fascinating story. 🙂

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