Good things arrive with spring, including the return of the ducks. No, not that giant yellow visitor who was so visible on the three rivers last autumn. We’re talking Pittsburgh’s own resident “ducks,” the six amphibious vehicles that make up the fleet of Just Ducky Tours.
This weekend, Just Ducky kicks off their 18th season in Pittsburgh. The only tour of the city by both land and water, Just Ducky takes riders of all ages on one-hour, narrated adventure that begins on the South Side, navigates through downtown and the North Side, then splashes into the Allegheny River.
Chris D’Addario, Allegheny City Central resident and ACCA board member, and Michael Cohen launched their Pittsburgh-based company in 1997 with one boat. Since then, the fleet has expanded to six, with plans to introduce a seventh boat later this season. In 2013, they reached a milestone when they carried their millionth rider. Among many special events, last summer they hosted a private tour for Steel City Vets and their families with guest skipper Captain Wild Bill Wichrowski of television’s “Deadliest Catch” at the helm.
As business has grown, D’Addario and Cohen, both originally from Boston, MA, acquired Molly’s Trollys. The transportation company specializes in sightseeing tours and shuttle services for weddings and corporate events. They also opened the gift shop “Tours and More” in the Shops at Station Square. Just Ducky’s administrative offices are located just across Brighton Road from Allegheny City Central.
Here’s a little history of the amphibious vehicles and how they came to be called “duck boats.” The DUKW (pronounced “duck”) is a six-wheel-drive amphibious vehicle originally designed by General Motors Corporation during World War II. Although DUKWs were used primarily by the military, many were used by civilian organizations such as police departments, fire stations, and rescue units. The name DUKW comes from the model naming terminology used by GM. The D indicates a vehicle designed in 1942. The U meant “utility (amphibious).” The K indicated all-wheel drive and the W indicated two powered rear axles.
Whether you want to treat visitors to a unique tour of Pittsburgh, learn more about our city’s history and architecture, or just have a “quacking good time,” check out Just Ducky Tours.
Just Ducky Tours, Inc. operates six tours daily through November and also offers group tours and private charters by reservation. All depart from Station Square on the South Side. Call 412-231-1196 or visit their website.