Nuns Recreate 130-Year-Old Journey Down Ohio River

By Maureen Kyle

(LOUISVILLE, August 11th, 2004, 6 p.m.) -- Five nuns took off Wednesday for an unusual trip on the Ohio River in a wooden boat. It's a re-enactment of a voyage made by the Ursuline Sisters 130 years ago. WAVE 3's Maureen Kyle was there as the nuns set sail.

It's not your typical pleasure cruise, but for five Ursuline Sisters, it's the trip of a lifetime. The five nuns will re-enact a voyage made by their predecessors 130 years ago.

In 1874, five Ursuline Sisters sailed along the Ohio River on a flatboat from Louisville to Owensboro to build a school. That school, Mount Saint Joseph, still exists.

The Sisters believed this re-enactment was the best way to commemorate the historical trip, but not everyone at the convent thought so at first, says Sister Michele Morek. "When they first started talking about it some felt it wouldn't be worth all the trouble. But the project assumed a life of its own.

Nearly 100 people gathered at the shoreline in New Albany to watch the sisters push off. For the next five days, the sisters will be living on the boat,.even cooking food that they've grown themselves.

The sisters will travel a total of 155 miles down the Ohio River and make stops along the way. But they're not exactly roughing it.

Sister Morek says "They have a laptop computer that they're going to be communicating with classrooms. They're going to be sending back digital pictures to our web page and constantly updating that."

Sister Morek says the replica boat also has a global positioning system as well as a weather monitor. A tug boat is also giving the flatboat a little power.

The boat was constructed by a man in Tennessee, and was built to be an exact replica of what they would have been used 130 years ago. The sisters say they're confident their little wooden boat will survive the mighty Ohio.

Online Reporter: Maureen Kyle

Online Producer: Michael Dever