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Nearly a century old dream becomes reality

Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 at 11:02 am

In 1929 Dr. Lee Williams was five years old when he traveled with his mother, Frances Lee Williams on the Steamer Potomac.

Two events have stayed with the 95 year old Irvington resident about that trip. The first is that while aboard he swallowed a penny. His worried mother asked the Potomac’s captain Archibald Long to check on her son. After examining the child, the captain pronounced, “This too will pass.”

All was well and Long invited the youngster up to the wheelhouse. Williams remembers touching the huge wheel, an experience he never forgot.

The Potomac’s pilothouse, including the wheelhouse was installed in the Steamboat Era Museum on May 29, 2019. Williams celebrated his 95th birthday June 12, 2019. His wish to revisit the Potomac wheelhouse and touch the wheel once again was granted on August 23.

With help from his son Phillip Williams, a museum Board member and a leader in the restoration effort to restore the Pilothouse, John Morgenthaler, the restorer of the Pilothouse, and others, Williams was lifted into the wheelhouse. Ninety years after his first visit, he once again touched the Potomac’s wheel!

Ninety years after first visiting the Steamer Potomac’s pilothouse, Dr. Lee Williams returns to touch the ship’s wheel.