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The River Queen

As the waterfront continues to see more progress, the waterways are abuzz with maritime activity. From kayaks to water taxis, the Inner Harbor and the Buffalo River are especially busy these days.

Captain Ric Hilliman and his son, Captain Rich Hilliman, owners and operators the Spirit of Buffalo and the Queen City Ferry Company, have launched a dedicated tour boat called The River Queen. The daily tours offered by The River Queen also include walking tours of Silo City, thanks to the addition of a dock that was built at the site  a short time ago.  The tours offer up close and personal looks at the Perot Malting Plant, American Peavey and Marine A grain elevators.

“We are excited to now have a safe, comfortable vessel that can meet demand for this popular tour while maintaining our reputation for professionalism,” says Capt. Ric Hilliman.

“Most of Buffalo’s history can be traced back to its location on the water,” says Capt. Rich Hilliman. “The Buffalo River is a hub of restoration and people are so eager and curious to get out on the water and see what’s going on. We are excited and proud to offer this experience for people and be part of the Buffalo River’s revitalization.”

As more and more events, such as City of Night (image below), tune people into the beauty of the river, and its natural and manmade assets, there is an ever-increasing number of people who want to explore the surroundings. Additionally, the river is still in the process of being cleaned up, making it a place where people feel comfortable interacting with the waters these days.


“People are fascinated by the river’s history and especially of the grain elevators, “says Capt. Ric Hilliman. “Our visitors are amazed at the massive, industrial and artistic workings of these facilities. The buildings are awe- inspiring and the tour gives people a glimpse into history they can’t get any other way. We absolutely love engaging people with this history.”

“The Hilliman family has been a vital part of growing the Canalside experience,” said Robert Gioia, chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, “The River Queen will allow more visitors to sail back in time and explore Buffalo’s waterfront in a new way. Canalside offers something for everyone, everyday and we are pleased that the Hilliman family continues to expand its fleet and engage people with our city’s history. ”


The safe and practical River Queen now resides at the Commercial Slip at Canalside, and joins the Spirit of Buffalo schooner and the Queen City Ferry. The tour boat has a capacity for 49 people.

*90-minute narrated tours of the Buffalo River four times per day and a 2-hour cruise and Silo City walking tour combination once per day seven days per week. Tickets for the river cruise are $17 for adults and $12 for children. Tickets for the river/walking tour combination are $27 for adults and $17 for children. Tickets are available by calling (716) 796-4556 or at the Spirit of Buffalo ticket booth at Canalside. Reservations are recommended. Charter/group rates are available and lunch packages are also available. For more information about the River Queen and other vessels, visit


Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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