Years and years ago, steamboats made frequent stops at towns along the Missouri River.  This is what helped establish the town of Brownville in southeast Nebraska.

It's there you'll now find not one, but two boats that have kept those roots alive.

And it's all thanks to Randel Smith.

"So totally we've been in the boating business since 1970, this is our 50th season," Smith said.

Smith and his wife started a dinner boat business in the town decades ago, operating the Spirit of Brownville, and haven't slowed down - just ten years ago, they opened the bed and breakfast, the River Inn Resort.

The whole idea behind these operations was to keep that "Spirit of Brownville" alive by paying homage to how the town got it's start.

Smith says running both boats is a family affair, with everyone pitching in with the upkeep and day to day operations.

However, 2019 brought those operations to a halt for a while.

"When the flood hit in March, we were pretty much - well not pretty much, we were shut down with everything," Smith said.

The boats were fine, of course, but Smith says it required another boat to access them, since all the roads leading down to the docks were flooded.

But once the water receded, business was back in full swing.

"On the weekends, we're usually full during the season," Smith said.

According to Smith, he's never had a complaint after someone stays at the River Inn or takes a dinner cruise on the Spirit of Brownville.

"It's a good meal, good entertainment, and everyone has a good time," Smith said.

The Spirit of Brownville takes dinner cruises every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. during their on season, which Smith says is usually April - October.

As for the River Inn Resort, the 18 rooms are available for reservation year round.

For more information, booking and pricing, head to