The Jewel City hosts the Valley Gem Sternwheeler in October and November

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 11, 2015

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau announces that it will host the Valley Gem Sternwheeler for 10 days beginning Oct. 29 through Nov. 8 this year.

Docking at Harris Riverfront Park, the Gem will be available to individuals and groups for educational and fall foliage sightseeing tours, special themed lunch and dinner cruises, private group bookings and more. Pricing is based on the type of cruise.

“In addition to our indelible rail history, there is nothing that speaks more to development of the Jewel City than its relationship with the Ohio River,” said Tyson Compton, president of the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I can’t think of a more exciting opportunity to experience our region than viewing it from the deck of the Valley Gem.”

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Jason Sands, captain of the Valley Gem, will share his knowledge of the river and bring the sternwheeler to Huntington from its home base in Marietta. A licensed pilot since 1992, Sands has been the Gem’s captain for more than 15 years.

“This is truly a family tradition where I developed a passion for piloting and the river,” Sands said. “Huntington has a clear vision and direction for the future, and we are excited to be a part of exploring that future and share our love of the river and the Valley Gem.”

The Valley Gem is an authentic sternwheeler built and launched in 1989. Since then, the Sands family continued with the vision and determination ignited by family patriarch Capt. James E. Sands, Sr. and his wife Peggy with their first paddle boat back in 1973.

Tickets for the 10-day visit are already on sale to individuals, organizations and special group functions. Booking early is recommended for best selection of available dates and times. The Cabell-Huntington CVB welcomes groups and organizations to take advantage of this special opportunity.

A partial list of suggestions for booking ideas include:

• Professional meetings

• Living classrooms for nature, geography, the environment and history

• River history and stories of early development of river towns

• Reunions and receptions

• Award and recognition events

• Music and dinner cruises

• Wildlife and nature conservancy groups

• Lifelong learning classes

• Special church outings

iHeartMedia is sponsoring the 10 day event and the CVB is partnering with the City of Huntington and the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District to make the visit of the sternwheeler possible. “Our riverfront has been extremely busy during the past year with numerous activities, and it’s exciting to see the Valley Gem sternwheeler added to an already impressive list,” Mayor Steve Williams said. “With the redevelopment of our riverfront on the horizon, this trend will undoubtedly continue.”

Visit or call the Cabell Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau for more information at 304-525-7333 or 800-635-6329. You can purchase tickets or book group event directly with the Valley Gem at or call 740-373-7862.