LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Founded in 1817 and rooted in rich history, the Lake George Steamboat Company is celebrating its 204th year of continuous operation. The Dow family, who has owned the company since the 1940s, is steering the company into the future, cruise by cruise.

On April 15, 1817, the Lake George Steamboat Company was incorporated by the New York State Legislature to operate commercial shipping on Lake George.

Following the Civil War, through a series of transportation consolidations, the company became part of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad System, serving as a link in their New York City to Canada operations. The D&H railroad owned and operated the Lake George passenger boats for 68 years (1871-1939) and during that time built the historic sidewheel steamboats, like the Sagamore and the Horicon II.

The Great Depression of the 1930s would be a tough time for the company, but they survived.

A new era would come in 1947 when Captain Wilbur Dow,  a maritime lawyer from New York City, acquired the steamboat company. Under his leadership, many improvements took place. He renovated the Mohican; brought a World War II vessel onto the lake in three sections and converted her to passenger service as the Ticonderoga in 1950; and built out the Steel Pier in Lake George Village in 1954 to the boundaries of the company’s land grant from King George III of England.

During his leadership, he also built the sternwheeler Minne-Ha-Ha in 1969 and, following an eleven-year construction effort, placed the Lac du Saint Sacrement in service in 1989.

Today, Wilbur’s family continues his work. His grandsons, Bubba and Luke Dow, say they feel a responsibility to continue the legacy of the company, not just for the family, but for the hundreds of visitors who come to ride their beloved steamboats.