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Idaho Falls man rolling on the river in a steamboat

Now that summer is here, a lot of people are taking their boats, jet skis, and kayaks to any nearby water.

If you hear a siren-like whistle, chances are it’s coming from a replica of a steamboat from the 1800’s.

86-year-old Gilbert Murdoch grew up loving steam engines.

“I’ve been in steam all of my life,” said Murdoch. “If they had a steam airplane, I’d have it.”

Fueled by wood and water, the 5-seat, 18-foot-long steamboat christened “The Silent Venture” is Murdoch’s pride and joy.

“In the days before they had gasoline engines, these steam-powered engines didn’t have a lot of horsepower,” said Murdoch. “They had to make the boats so they’d slip through the water easily and that’s what this is. It looks more like a big canoe.”

On any given day, you can find him at John’s Hole in Idaho Falls sailing top-speed at 8 MPH.

And if you pump your arm from the banks of the river, Murdoch will respond with a long, steamy toot from his boat’s whistle.

“There’s always a crowd around, wondering how it works and how fast it goes,” said Murdoch.

But steamboating isn’t just a hobby for Murdoch, he says his 10 kids and more than 40 grandchildren enjoy it too.

“Oh yeah. They all love it very much and that’s one of the reasons I bought it, was for the family,” said Murdoch.

Murdoch gives people rides on his steamboat if you’d like one.

For $10, he’ll take you around John’s Hole — that’s the area near the boat launch at the greenbelt.

All the money goes for buying wood to power the boat.

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