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Maxson's Riverside Restaurant and Pride of Oregon riverboat to close at end of the month

An Oregon icon will close its doors at the end of this month after more than 60 years in business.

Maxson's Riverside Restaurant and the Pride of Oregon Riverboat will serve meals for the last time on Oct. 31, owner Rich Wiesner said Tuesday.

"The decision to close has been tremendously difficult, but we've come to realize that now is the best time for this to happen," Wiesner said in a press release issued Monday afternoon.
In a phone interview on Tuesday, Wiesner said he wants to retire, but hasn't been able to find a buyer for the landmark restaurant.

"I've had it for sale for a year now, and I haven't had one person [buyer] come through here," he said. "I'm 66 years old; I'm ready to retire."

Wiesner said he still hopes to sell the restaurant. "It's a good location. It's a good banquet facility," he said.

Wiesner, who is the restaurant's fourth owner, has owned and operated it since mid-September of 1992 when he purchased it from the heirs of Rose Jones.

John Maxson and his family opened the restaurant in 1952 and operated it until they sold it to John and Peter Tsioles in 1978.

Jones purchased the restaurant from the Tsioles brothers in 1985. She added the riverboat, originally called the Rose of the Rock four years later.

The paddle wheeler was built in Palatka, Fla. It was launched on the St. John's River and sailed into the Gulf of Mexico, to Mobile, Ala., on its month-long trip to Oregon.

Its route took it up the Mobile River to the Tennesee-Tombigbee Waterway, then on the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers, and finally up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Ottawa, where it was dismantled and bought overland by semi tractor-trailers to Oregon.

The northbound lane of Interstate 39 was closed to traffic to allow the riverboat to be transported to Ill. 64, which was completely closed while the semis made their way to the boat launch on River Road.

Once at Oregon, the vessel was reassembled and made its maiden voyage on the Rock River on Sept. 9, 1989.

A fire destroyed the original restaurant building on March 27, 1993, but it was rebuilt and reopened in the summer of 1994.

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