A Cruise on the Mary Jemison


Mary Jemison

Mary Jemison  

1931 Historic Wooden Vessel

A working vessel throughout her 76-year history, Mary Jemison provides tangible evidence of adaptive re-use during three-quarters of a century of American marine heritage. Built in Deltaville, Virginia and originally employed as a Chesapeake Bay buy boat, she hauled daily oyster catches purchased from Maryland fishermen to packing houses and markets on the bay. By mid-century, when many buy boats were scrapped and replaced as freight haulers by trucks, she was converted to a double decked sightseeing boat and joined the fleet of Atlantic City restaurateur Captain Clarence Starns. In the late 1980s, the vessel began operating on the Erie Canal in central New York. Corn Hill Navigation purchased and launched Mary Jemison in 2005 as work on the Erie Harbor Riverwalk and Corn Hill Landing development in downtown Rochester neared completion.

Larger than the Sam Patch, Mary Jemison has an upper deck that affords sweeping views of the urban landscape and passing countryside.

Mary Jemison is named to honor the legacy of "the white woman of the Genesee," an important figure in the history of the region. An Irish-American woman born en route to the U.S., Mary Jemison chose to remain with her adoptive Seneca family after being taken captive as a child during the French and Indian wars. She lived for many years along the banks of the Genesee with her adopted people, theHaudenosaunee Iroquois, in what is now Letchworth State Park.


Mary Jemison docks at Corn Hill Landing, the City of Rochester's newest waterfront development featuring the charm of a European village updated with all the comforts of contemporary urban living. The location incorporates cosmopolitan dining opportunities with spectacular views of the Genesee River and Rochester skyline. It is easily accessible from Interstate 490.


A cruise aboard the Mary Jemison departs from Corn Hill Landing at the intersection of Exchange Blvd. and Plymouth Avenue in downtown Rochester.

We begin by heading south, upstream on the Upper Genesee River, an extension of the Erie Canal. We glide under the renovated Ford Street Bridge, then pass by historic Mount Hope Cemetery, resting place of celebrated Rochesterians Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. Majestic great blue herons are a common site along the riverbanks.

We continue on past the University of Rochester River Campus to the picturesque junction, "the Crossings," where the Erie Canal and Genesee River intersect at Genesee Valley Park – a beautiful greenspace designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. At the Crossings, we turn eastward onto the Erie Canal, then turn and cruise back downstream toward Corn Hill and a magnificent view of the Rochester skyline featuring the award-winning Frederick Douglass-Susan B. Anthony Bridge. Throughout our journey the Captain highlights points of interest and recounts stories of the colorful history of Rochester and its legendary waterways.

On dinner cruises and lengthier private charters, Mary Jemison continues east on the Erie Canal to Lock 33, where passengers encounter the signature canalling experience of locking up and down before returning to Rochester's beautiful illuminated downtown skyline.


Corn Hill is Rochester's oldest residential neighborhood, where millers and merchants built imposing homes during the city.s first growth in the 1820s and 30s after the opening of the Erie Canal.

In the 1960s Corn Hill residents and local historic preservation activists joined to save this important part of Rochester's heritage. Today Corn Hill is a showplace of beautiful Victorian homes and gardens, featuring residences of Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Eastlake and Queen Anne Styles, adjacent to contemporary town homes in complementary styles.

The Corn Hill Arts Festival, first organized in 1968 to support preservation efforts and raise public awareness, draws more than a quarter million visitors to the neighborhood each summer on a July weekend following Independence Day. The festival features exhibitors of fine arts and crafts from all over the U.S., a diverse lineup of music and entertainment, and an incomparable selection of food and beverage.

The Corn Hill Neighborhood is a five-to-ten minute walk from Rochester's downtown attractions, including the Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial and the Riverside Convention Center.