Riverboat cruise founders celebrate two anniversaries

Posted: Friday, June 16, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Jim and Mary Binkley celebrated two anniversaries this week: the 50th anniversary of their Riverboat Discovery tours and their 53rd wedding anniversary.

About 1,000 people turned out to commemorate both occasions in Fairbanks Thursday night.

A race on the Chena River between three company paddlewheel boats was among the featured attractions. Each boat was skippered by one of the couple's three sons.

To launch their business five decades ago, the Binkleys borrowed $4,000 from Alaska National Bank and bought the missionary riverboat Godspeed from the Episcopal Church. By the summer of 1950, out-of-town guests began to cruise the Chena on the couple's refurbished boat.

Today, the Riverboat Discovery employs about 100 people.

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