Travel Treasures Close to Home: Just Ducky

by Tom Reed
WMV Web News Cleveland
Story filed August 15, 2005

We may travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to visit a tourist destination, but we sometimes overlook the attractions in our own backyard . These may be in Greater Cleveland, elsewhere in Ohio, or in neighboring states. Here's another in a series of articles about such places by Tom Reed, a freelance writer who specializes in travel, and who has been writing about various subjects in our Reed's Read segment.

Passengers board Duck at Station Square
in Pittsburgh
If you're looking for a sightseeing tour of Pittsburgh that doesn't take much time, and is fun for the kids, just hop on a Duck.

These World War Two amphibious vehicles, operated by Just Ducky Tours, Inc., take you through downtown streets, then into the water near the Point, where the Allegheny and the Monongahela Rivers join to form the Ohio River. Along the way, a guide and the driver keep up a running commentary about the city's attractions and history, coupled with exhortations to quack at the people on the street.

Kids take the wheel of a Duck on
Ohio River in Pittsburgh
"On the left is the oldest hotel in Pittsburgh, the Omni William Penn. It dates back to March of 1916. Let's give them a quack: Quack, Quack, Quack"

It's a little hokey, but the kids love it. And the narration is packed with a lot of good solid information about the city. You'll learn about the two inclines that scale Mount Washington, the city's numerous bridges, the Andy Warhol museum, PNC Park, Heinz Field, and many other points of interest.

You board the Ducks at Station Square, across the Monongahela from downtown. Then, after the tour of city streets, you cross the Allegheny and go into the water near the site of the old Three Rivers Stadium. This is the part that really thrills the kids. One by one, the guide brings them up front and lets them drive the boat for a while. Back on land, you see still more attractions.

The guide explains that the amphibious vehicles were created during World War Two as a way to carry troops and supplies from ship to shore without the need for piers or heavy cranes. DUCK is not just a cute name. The word evolved from the manufacturer's code DUKW (D representing the year 1942, U for utility, K for front wheel drive, and W for two rear-driving axles).

Just Ducky tours operate daily through October, weekends only in November. For hour, ticket prices, and to make reservations, visit their website at

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Copyright 2005 Tom Reed