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New Tourist Attraction Sets Sail in Butler County

A new tour boat at Moraine State Park has been unveiled, along with its new name—Preston’s Pearl. A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at McDanels Launch in early May, where the boat was christened by Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), followed by a brief cruise.

The Moraine Preservation Fund (MPF) purchased the new educational tour boat, and the Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau sponsored a contest for naming rights. After receiving 1,100 entries in a month, the name Preston’s Pearl was selected and the winner, Shannon Williams, received a private cruise for up to 30 people.

“Moraine State Park is Butler County’s top attraction, and we are excited to have visitors enjoy and explore the park in a new way,'' said Jack Cohen, president of Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau.

The boat’s new name recognizes Dr. Frank W. Preston, an amateur geologist and naturalist. Known as the “man behind the park,” he saw the significance of the area formed by glaciers, but it was riddled with abandoned oil and gas wells and strip mines. Preston formed the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy which purchased the land in order to recreate the glacial landscape that makes what it is today—Butler County’s top attraction, Moraine State Park.

The new enclosed tour boat increases the passenger capacity of the previous boat and has an upper deck for outdoor viewing. Cruises are offered from Memorial Day weekend through October, and passengers will learn about the area’s history and wildlife within Moraine State Park. The tour boat also offers environmental programs, dinner cruises, private charters for business meetings, seminars and parties. The educational tour boat is owned and operated by MPF, a nonprofit organization that promotes and supports environmental stewardship of the park.

During each excursion, first mates share information about activities, sightings of the many species of wildlife that call the park home, and more. The tour takes passengers from the dock at McDanels Launch to the eastern side of Lake Arthur. MPF partners with park staff each year to host local school students in annual science and biology field trips that include instruction and lessons on the water. The tour boat is also used to host specialty cruises, private parties, and groups.

Don’t miss your chance to cruise on Preston’s Pearl. Tickets can be purchased on Moraine Preservation Fund’s website,

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