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Keeping history afloat


Led by Jerry Herrmann, Willamette River Discovery Cruise has something for everyone

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The 60-foot jet boat from Willamette Jetboat will take people on a 60-mile tour of the Willamette River. Ever since his days as a child growing up in West Linn, Jerry Herrmann has been fascinated by the Willamette River.

It always seemed like the perfect source of information about the area's past, present and future — something everyone should pay attention to and learn from.

Herrmann started conducting boat tours of the river about 30 years ago, and this year has partnered with Willamette Jetboats for one of his most ambitious endeavors yet.

The Willamette River 60 Mile Discovery Cruise, put on by Herrmann's Earth Crusaders education training program for at-risk youths, is set for its first trip on June 29. Heading from its Oregon City jump-off point to Sauvie Island and back, the three-and-a-half hour cruise will feature expert guides in history, art, natural resources and wildlife, as well as a barbershop quartet — The Tonesetters — and local chef Wayne Philen.

Each boat can hold up to 50 people, though the various guides and entertainers will make up about half of that number. Herrmann's goal is to create an all-encompassing tour of the river, exploring natural life while also delving into the artistic and culinary practices that have emerged from its banks.

"The chef thing intrigues me, because he has always used native plants," Herrmann said. "Now I have a culinary guy who can tell people about the derivation of foods, how native people prepared them."

The trip includes a salmon bake luncheon, staffed in part by Earth Crusaders youth members.

It is meant to be an all-inclusive experience — a chance to learn all about the river's history while enjoying a summer afternoon on the water.

"This is a mixing effort to get people to see everything all at the same time," Herrmann said. "It's like taking a standard tour and then advancing it to a whole new audience."

Tickets are $85 for adults and $70 for kids between ages 8 and 14. Call Herrmann at 503-260-3432 to reserve a spot or to learn more about the cruise.

Should the boat fill up on Saturday, Herrmann said a second would be dispatched to assure everyone a spot.

Tours are also scheduled on Aug. 21 and Sept. 14.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Jerry Herrmann (bottom right) and The Tonesetters barbershop quartet pose next to one of the Willamette Jetboats that will be used for the upcoming Willamette River Discovery cruises.