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Harrisburg Insider Commodore Jack Dillman

Published: Jun 22, 2016
Commodore Jack Dillman on the Pride of the Susquehanna

How’d you find your way here?

This is my 71st year of working on the water. Twenty were in active duty in the U.S. Navy. The rest of the time can be divided up between the Susquehanna Coal Fleet that used to be here on the river, the Millersburg Ferry and of course Harrisburg’s riverboat, the Pride of the Susquehanna. Until I was 81 years old, my time was spent behind the controls making it go. Since 2010, I’ve been more of an instructor, a mentor, watching over the gentlemen in the wheelhouse and showing them how to mind the store.


How have things changed over the years?

I find that jobs nowadays can be demanding. People have no chance to sit back and catch their breath. For those folks especially I say, ‘Come on the river. Ride the boat. It will be like a psychiatrist’s appointment without you being on a couch. You’ll have a chance to relax and unwind instead of thinking about some tight schedule.’


What makes The Pride so unique?

Working paddlewheels are an old-fashioned technology. You’d be amazed how many people think, ‘Surely that paddlewheel can’t be doing all the work. There’s just got to be propellers down there someplace or other.’ Which there aren’t. The Pride is a powerhouse. I’ve been out in 10 feet of water with this. No deal, no problem at all.

Pride of the Susquehanna Captain's Cabin

What else do you enjoy in and around Harrisburg?

The State Museum—I was always fascinated by it. I like to go in there. The Whitaker Center on Market Street has all kinds of movies and exhibits. They even had something from the Titanic which I made it a point to see. It’s nice that Harrisburg can provide you with that kind of entertainment. I enjoy the John Harris and Simon Cameron Mansion, too. I spoke there once about the raft that came down the river in 1938. So that is something of interest. I love Harrisburg because it’s a river city, and being a river city I always root for it.



Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat

The State Museum of Pennsylvania

John Harris & Simon Cameron Mansion


Pride of the Susquehanna River paddle boat photo 2015.


Author: Explore HBG