See the sights and hear the stories of the Rust Belt on river cruise |

See the sights and hear the stories of the Rust Belt on river cruise

Mary Pickels
The Rivers of Steel Explorer riverboat will be the moving dining spot for a March 31 brunch with author Paul Hertneky and tour showcasing the legacy of the Monongahela River and the Carrie Blast Furnaces and Edgar Thompson Works from a water view vantage point.
Joanna Eldredge Morrisey
Paul Hertneky, author of 'Rust Belt Boy: Stories of an American Childhood,' and Ambridge native, will read from his memoir aboard a 'Rust Belt Brunch Cruise' on March 31.

Ambridge native and Chatham University faculty member Paul Hertneky will read excerpts from his 2016 collection of essays, “Rust Belt Boy: Stories of an American Childhood,” as part of Rivers of Steel’s first heritage program aboard the Explorer riverboat on March 31.

According to his blog, most of his essays and stories are set in his hometown and in Pittsburgh, and reflect on Baby Boomers who left their Rust Belt homes, and his affection and appreciation for those who remained, caring for parents, their towns and each other.

The three-hour brunch cruise is a literary, culinary and heritage event, according to a news release.

Following its acquisition of the nonprofit formerly known as RiverQuest, Rivers of Steel has continued the mission, relaunching STEM-based education programs. It’s expanding onboard options to engage and educate the public and broaden the narrative to include cultural heritage programming, the release states.

“Rivers of Steel is privileged to host Paul Hertneky for our inaugural public event on the Explorer,” CEO August Carlino says in the release.

“The spirit of this book so closely aligns with our commitment to honor the cultural traditions of our region’s past. For those of us who came of age in southwestern Pennsylvania at that time, these stories resonate with our own experiences ­— and for those who didn’t grow up with ever-present smokestacks and cherished ‘old world’ traditions, it’s a wonderful introduction to a time that shaped our region,” Carlino adds.

Hertneky will read excerpts highlighting themes around family and community traditions, life for a youngster in a company town, and a glimpse of characters who inhabited his world as a mill worker.

Passengers will enjoy the context of the Monongahela River and the Carrie Blast Furnaces and the Edgar Thompson Works, along with a Prohibition Pastries menu designed to celebrate the region’s ethnic culinary traditions.

Seating for the 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. event is limited to 35. The $65 ticket price includes a copy of Hertneky’s book.


Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or [email protected] or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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