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|Live Photos from the Steamboat Conference|
October 18, 2014
This weekend is the culmination of a six day celebration in honor of the Belle of Louisville's hundredth birthday. Even though Louisville is an easy drive for fifty percent of the country, sadly, I live in the part where it isn't.
Luckily, steamboats.com correspondent Randy Davis sent in a batch of photos live from the conference. Those of us who cannot be there can still feel like we're there and see what's going on! Click here to see Randy's photos: Centennial Festival of Steamboats 2014.
The conference ends Sunday, October 19 night, so get down there if you can! It's a great weekend for history in Louisville.
Reasons why S. 1022, Save the Delta Queen Legislation, Deserves a Unanimous Consent in the Senate
October 17, 2014
* The Delta Queen has a perfect safety record, with zero casualties from safety-related issues. The Queen has state-of-the-art fire safety equipment, including sprinklers, alarms, onboard firefighters, and regular drills. Safety at Sea laws are necessary for ocean-going ships, where a fire at sea can be deadly. However, the Delta Queen is always within a few feet of the shore.
* As soon as the Senate passes S. 1022, the Delta Queen will convey to small business owners who have the money to make the necessary upgrades. They plan to bring the Delta Queen to the Coast Guard and insurance carriers for approval as soon as possible.
* Rather than presenting competition for other river cruise lines, bringing back a much-loved, historic boat will bring favorable media coverage. This publicity will attract more passengers to cruise the inland waterways of America.
* The Delta Queen is a National Historic Landmark that needs S. 1022 to survive. If S. 1022 fails, it may be too late.
Click here for information on what you can do to help save the Delta Queen Steamboat!
Photo June 2014: the Delta Queen needs your help to survive.
Louisville Prepares for Steamboat Conference
October 11, 2014
The Louisville Courier-Journal expects several hundred thousand people next week for the Centennial Festival of Steamboats. They posted the schedule of week-long celebrations and said six large paddlewheel boats will be there, making it the largest gathering of the riverboats since Tall Stacks in Cincinnati in 2006.
To get more information, go to the Courier-Journal online for Belle the star at 100th birthday bash.
Birthday Greetings to the Belle of Louisville
October 9, 2014
Happy birthday and congratulations to the Belle of Louisville on her one hundred years in operation. Here's a photo I took from Burch's Landing last June. Wish I could come right back to be there for the celebration! - with love, Nori & the Muster family.
The Centennial Festival of Riverboats to honor the Belle of Louisville starts next week. If you are in driving distance of Louisville, make plans to get down there!*
Legislation to Save the Delta Queen Makes Important Progress!
October 13, 2014 - updated
Just before Congress adjourned in September, legislation that would allow the Delta Queen to cruise again, S.1022, was amended to include additional fire safety requirements. It was then considered ready for a unanimous consent, a procedure also known as hotlining, which is a way to pass non-controversial bills without a recorded vote. However, time ran out for the full Senate to pass this legislation in September.
At first it was said that S. 1022 passed out of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation. However at this time it remains in the Committee, in line for a unanimous consent "hotline" vote, when the Senate reconvenes after the election. Committee Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Republican Member Senator John Thune support the bill. In the wider Senate, the bill's bipartisan sponsors include Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Pryor (D-AR), John Boozman (D-AR), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and David Vitter (R-LA).
If the Senate can pass S. 1022 by unanimous consent, the bill will revisit the U.S. House of Representatives to go over the amended safety language, then it will become law. After that, the vessel will transfer to a small business group, which will prepare the boat for Coast Guard inspection to go back into the river cruise business.
The Delta Queen National Treasures Team with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Lee Powell, executive director of the Delta Grassroots Caucus, and the new owners, have worked diligently, together with the steamboat community, to advance this legislation. This is possibly the last chance to save the Delta Queen, so it is a sobering moment for the future of the boat.
You can help save the Delta Queen - phone calls
Please encourage your two U.S. Senators to support passage of legislation that would allow the Delta Queen to once again cruise the Mississippi! Find your Senators' names*, then call (202) 224-3121 to reach them. When you call, be polite, patient, and upbeat. Say the name of the bill ("S. 1022") and why you support it. Be concise. Emphasize that S. 1022 will save the Delta Queen, a recognized National Historic Landmark.
You can help save the Delta Queen - online
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has set up a webpage where you can write to your legislators. Click here to write to your US Senators online.
If you feel strongly about the issue, please follow up with a real stamp-and-envelope letter.
You can help save the Delta Queen - letters
You are welcome to use the suggested verbiage from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in a letter. You can add your own experiences and personalize your message as you decide. If you can keep it to one page, that is most effective. Find your Senators' addresses here: Senate.gov and get it in the mail ASAP before November rolls around.
Dear Senator _______________,
I am writing to urge your support of S.1022, legislation that would reinstate the long-standing exemption from the Safety of Life at Sea Act (SOLAS) for the historic steamboat, Delta Queen. Introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), this legislation will enable the return of the Delta Queen to sailing the Mississippi river system and the return to her traditional use as an overnight passenger vessel.
As the nation's last historic steamboat to provide overnight passenger service, the Delta Queen is our final link to America's two hundred year tradition of commercial cargo and passenger steamboat transportation. Three different U.S. Presidents have sailed on Delta Queen: Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, and Jimmy Carter. After more than seventy years of service, the Delta Queen's safety record is exemplary and her return service to America's inner waterways would bring new tourist dollars and jobs to the Mississippi Delta, the Ohio River valley, and their many tributaries.
If Congress fails to act on behalf of this historic vessel, our key opportunity to preserve the Delta Queen will be lost. Returning the Delta Queen overnight cruising enjoys broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. We urge your support of efforts to pass legislation during the lame duck session of Congress to save this American treasure.
Thank you for helping us protect the Delta Queen for future generations and your support of our nation's proud maritime heritage.
WorkBoat Show, December 3-5, 2014, New Orleans
October 9, 2014
You are invited to the WorkBoat Show & Annual Conference. Register early to exhibit or attend. Go to the website for more details: workboatshow.com.
Click here for details and ordering information. Support the American Sternwheel Association!
August 30, 2014
Delta Queen and Delta King Photos from 1926
Ken Simpson sent photos and information about his father, William Simpson, who came to America to assemble the Delta Queen and Delta King in California. Click here to go to the page in the online Steamboats.com museum.
August 25, 2014
1971 Delta Queen Photo by Bill Muster
Dave Thomson found this photo for sale on eBay some time ago. But it's timely now. The Delta Queen is calling on the Senate to let her go back to work. She is the safest boat on the rivers, despite not being made of all steel. Here is the wood treatment that is helping to prolong her life while she waits for the Senate to act on Senate Bill S. 1022.
August 18, 2014
American Queen Paddlewheel Restored
Great news from the American Queen this weekend. River Informer at Wordpress.com reports that the majestic steamboat finally has her paddlewheel back. The wheel developed a fracture crack in shaft in late June and was forced to leave her wheel at a boat yard in Alton, Illinois, for repairs. The Queen completed all of her scheduled cruises, but under diesel power without the wheel. As of Saturday, she is back to steam power. To read the full story, go to riverinformer.
August 11, 2014
Steamboats.com Steamboat Museum News
Over the weekend, I got out my website builder hat and completely renovated the Dave Thomson Collection wing of the museum. The Collection first started on Steamboats.com in 2002, so after twelve years, it needed an update. Everything is now organized and easy to find, and all the jpgs download easily, with just a dozen (or so) jpgs per page. Click here to see the newly-renovated Dave Thomson Collection.
A few statistics:
Dave Thomson Collection - aprox. 700 jpgs
Dave Thomson Collection - 68 html pages
Dave Thomson Collection (before renovation) - aprox. 700 jpgs
Dave Thomson Collection (before renovation) - 44 html pages
Steamboats.com Museum - aprox. 1,800 jpgs (including Dave's)
Steamboats.com Museum - 216 html pages (including Dave's)
Steamboats.com entire site - 400 html pages
Steamboats.com Google PR (Google PageRank) - 4/10
Following are a few charts showing traffic to the site:
This chart shows July 2014 typical traffic to the site, with approximately 6,000 to 10,000 hits a day.
This chart shows June 2014 traffic when the site got 1.6 million hits on June 8 and 3.2 million on June 9. The two days of heavy traffic dwarf the statistics for the rest of the days. A similar thing happened at the same time on my other site, surrealist.org. Anyways, I wish the traffic was real, but it was obviously an anomaly. Maybe someone tried to crash the sites, or it was just an electronic brain fart at the server.
On Aug 1, 2014, at 1:20 PM, Joe McCormick clewis1944 @ hotmail.com wrote:
My great, great, grandfather (David E. Brown) was a steamship captain on the Mississippi River in the mid 1800's. His brother owned a steamship Co. in St. Francisville,La. David Brown's ship sank, he swam to shore but died of Pnuemonia. His brother's name was J.J.Brown. I have seen an article about a ship named the Elizabeth Fedora traveling to Alaska. David Brown's mother was Elizabeth Fedora Brown. Does anyone have any info on these folks?
Editor's Note: Contact Joe McCormick if you have any information to share about his ancestor.
July 6, 2014
Celebration Planned October 14-19, 2014
The largest riverboat convention of the year will take place in Louisville this fall, and all are invited. The Centennial Festival of Riverboats celebrates one hundred years of the Belle of Louisville, still in operation as one of the last authentic steam-powered paddle wheelers in America.
The Los Angeles Times published a story about the upcoming event, see: Kentucky: Riverboat fest celebrates Belle of Louisville's 100th year. For more information, go to: festivalofriverboats.com.
July 3, 2014
American Queen Mechanical Problems
Soon after visiting Louisville and seeing the American Queen, she suffered a stress fracture in the paddlewheel. This forced a change in schedule for repairs. We here at steamboats.com and the Muster family wish the American Queen all the best, and that the repairs can be made soon. Click here to read the full article at CruiseCritic.com.
On Jun 29, 2014, at 9:39 PM, John Weise wrote:
Here's a not widely known fact. Where is the Delta King's original smokestack? The answer is 38.162633 latitude x -121.610446 longitude, which puts it in Isleton, CA. I found it while checking out the Sacramento River in 2007. I didn't get to talk to the guy that owns the property but it has been converted into a storage shed. You can see it on google maps & if you go to the street view you can see it if you position your view properly.
In 1991 I made my Pilgrimage to see all of the places mentioned in Fred Way's Saga of the Delta Queen. Then in 2007 we drove the Sacramento River from its end near Rio Vista all the way up to Sacramento. I would have loved to actually have done it on a boat (to see it from the DQ & DK perspective) but there are no boats scheduled that actually do that now. We crossed every automobile bridge also along that stretch too.
Editor's note: Thank you for the amazing photo, John! It is great to see the old smokestack got a second life.
June 28, 2014
Steamboat Reunion Photos: Cincinnati, Jeffersonville, and Chattanooga
From June 20-24, my brother and I traveled around the South to visit old friends, and meet new ones. The center of our visit, of course, was the steamboats. We saw the Belle of Louisville and the American Queen from the shore quite a few times. We also visited the Delta Queen, which is in Chattanooga. Check out my photos from the trip, click here. Our thanks to everyone who made this a great time!
June 20, 2014
Senators Optimistic about Delta Queen Exemption
Watch the video of Senators discuss the Delta Queen exemption on Cincinnati's WKRC TV: local12.com
June 18, 2014
New at Steamboats.com:
Delta Queen Corporate History Timeline
This is a condensed timeline, showing only the corporate history of the Delta Queen and her sister ships, the Mississippi Queen and American Queen. For a broader history timeline, go to Delta Queen Timeline (at steamboats.com).
In her lifetime, the Delta Queen has worked continually, and has worked for approximately ten different corporations under seven different names.
1926 - Delta Queen and Delta King fabricated on the River Clyde in Glasgow,Scotland, and shipped to Stockton, California, for final assembly.
mid-1940s - The Navy employs the Delta Queen and Delta King for WWII military operations in the San Francisco Bay.
1947 - The twin boats are decommissioned. Tom Greene of Greene Line Steamers, based in Cincinnati, buys the Delta Queen at auction. He ships it five thousand miles, down the West Coast on the Pacific Ocean, through the Panama Canal, over the Gulf of Mexico, and finally to the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
1958 - Richard Simonton, a California businessman, buys a controlling interest fromLetha Greene, Greene Line Steamers, to save the company from bankruptcy.
1966 - Congress passes the first safety at sea laws; Simonton assigns Bill Muster to get the exemption and run the company.
1969 - November - Greene Line Steamers sells the Delta Queen to Overseas National Airways (ONA) to raise money to build the Mississippi Queen. ONA is allegedly a CIA Air Op (air operation) that carries troops and supplies to Vietnam and other secret locations. It is said that they bought the steamboats to launder money the operation earned flying occasional legitimate commercial flights to Europe and Asia.
1973 - September - Greene Line Steamers, Inc. officially changes its name to Delta Queen Steamboat Company, Inc. (DQSCO).
1975 - April - Mississippi Queen christened.
1976 - January - Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New York buys the Delta Queen Steamboat Company.
c. 1979 - Coke sells the Delta Queen Steamboat Company to stockholders, and the boat is owned and managed by the employees.
c. 1982 - Sam Zell and Bob Lurie of Chicago, Illinois, acquire a controlling interest in the company stock and take over the management.
1993 - DQSCO acquires the bankrupt American Global Line, American Hawaii Cruises.
1994 - DQSCO changes its name to American Classic Voyages.
1994 - American Queen launched.
2001 - American Classic Voyages goes into bankruptcy under owner, Sam Zell.
2002 - May 7 - The U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, approves the sale of American Classic Voyages' steamboats Delta Queen, Mississippi Queen, and American Queen to Buffalo, N.Y.-based Delaware North Companies for approximately $80 million. Delaware North is a privately held firm with operating subsidiaries in food service, retail, sports and hospitality management in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
2006 - Delaware North sells the Delta Queen, Mississippi Queen, and American Queen to Majestic American Line of Seattle, which already owns the Empress of the North, Queen of the West, and the Columbia Queen. The parent company, Ambassadors International, Inc., owns additional fleets of ships.
2008 - The Delta Queen loses the exemption in Congress.
2009 - The Delta Queen goes to Chattanooga to function as a hotel.
2010 - The government repossesses the American Queen after Majestic American Line defaults on government-backed loans. May - steamboat fans spot the American Queen in a government mothball fleet in Texas.*
2010 - The Mississippi Queen is dismantled.
2011 - Ambassadors International Inc. goes into bankruptcy reorganization. In May, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware approves the sale of the Delta Queen and Columbia Queen for $39 million. The buyer, Xanterra Parks and Resorts of Greenwood Village, Colorado, runs concessions at government parks.
2011 - The Great American Steamboat Company, headed by Jeff Krida, buys the American Queen from the federal government for $15 million and sets a date to put her back into service.
2012 - April 27 - Steamboat American Queen is re-christened by Priscilla Presley and reinstates paddlewheel river cruising in America. Effective July 1, the Great American Steamboat Company changes its name to the American Queen Steamboat Company.
2014 - June - Xanterra Parks and Recreation signs a deal to sell the Delta Queen to Cornel Martin and business partners.
June 16, 2014
Delta Queen Latest News
The following message appeared yesterday on the Facebook group, "Save the Delta Queen":
The legendary Delta Queen is under contract to be put back into service cruising America's rivers. This is the day we have all been waiting for and working towards. It has been an honor to be the keeper of the Queen for the last five years and we are so thankful for our many supporters and volunteers who have helped us watch over the Delta Queen.
While we very much appreciate everyone's interest, we ask that you continue to admire the Delta Queen from shore until she is made ready for departure to the shipyard. Lots of work must take place to ready her for her new role (or old role if you think about it), which has already begun and we are no longer able to accept visitors. For the safety of all of the Delta Queen's fans and the vessel itself 24-hour security is in place. As more updates become available and the departure date is know, we will post that information on here.
HOW YOU CAN HELP!
The best thing any fan of the Queen can do now is to contact your Senators and urge them to support S. 1022, a bill to extend the exemption or the Delta Queen which is key to getting her running again and preserving her for future generations to enjoy.
June 16, 2014
A Page Out of History
Karen "Toots" Maloy has a new memoir on her career as riverlorian on the Delta Queen, Mississippi Queen, and American Queen! Get your copy:http://greatriverarts.com.
Toots recounts the Delta Queen's journey to Chattanooga in 2008, as well as the demise of the Mississippi Queen.
June 15, 2014
Who's that in The New York Times?
What better fiftieth birthday and Father's Day present than to appear in The New York Times? In their "Vocations" feature, they ask people about their jobs. Patricia R. Olsen conducted this interview to find out how Travis Vasconcelos started working on steamboats at age twelve, and is currently a historian and lecturer on the American Queen.Here is an excerpt from the interview. Click here to read the complete interview!
How did you come to play the calliope on the boat?
June 12, 2014
More Historic Recognition for the Delta Queen Steamboat
Last month, the Delta Queen won the Cincinnati Preservation Association's "50 for 50" competition to become the most recognized iconic landmark of Cincinnati. Out of 17,000 votes cast, the Delta Queen got 2,302 votes. The runner-ups were: God's Bible School and College, the Cincinnati Zoo historic structures, the Cincinnati Observatory, Cincinnati Union Terminal, Music Hall Sorg Opera House, and the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge. Don Sanders helped rally the votes on Facebook to win the contest by a wide margin.
The next big news came yesterday, when the National Trust for Historic Preservation published a statement congratulating the Delta Queen (See: SavingPlaces.org).
This leads us back to the common wisdom that history does not save itself. Historic places need our help. The best chance to save the Delta Queen is to get her back into the cruise business. It looks like that will happen, so we call on all Delta Queen supporters to call their U.S. Senators. We also all must work together and cheer her on as she goes into her next phase.
June 10, 2014
A letter from Charlene Corris
Dear Loyal Delta Queen Fans,
It is with great joy that I send you this update on the Delta Queen!
I have spoken to Leah Ann and they have now signed a Purchase and Sales Agreement with Xanterra for the purchase!
So we are closer to seeing our beloved icon back on the river.
This week the DQSC team is in Washington, DC to lobby for the exemption as the Senate vote gets closer. And, for those of you who attended our last reunion in December 2013 remember this? The Senators will as well!
Now, we still need your help so here is what you can do.
The bill S. 1022 will be coming to vote soon and we need you to write, call, or email your Senators to vote for this exemption.
To amend title 46, United States Code, to extend the exemption from the fire-retardant materials construction requirement for vessels operating within the Boundary Line.
May 14, 2013
Status: Passed House on September 25, 2013
Here is a link to the contact information for all 100 Senators.http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Help us to return the Delta Queen to her rightful place- on America's rivers!
This exemption would keep her on the river for another 15 years so that she can celebrate her 100th Birthday!
Write, call, or email today.
Free Delta Queen Books
The Internet now offers these two books free:
Long Live the Delta Queen, by Letha Greene
Click here: http://www.eaapdf.org/?p=3214325
Note: the book will download as an .exe, which will only open on a PC.
The Delta Queen: Last of the Paddlewheel Palaces
Click here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uZ-0tQRkHQWRe1G1qLZ7p44-xD3yoF5tAXslw6-443E/edit
Note: You will need to to establish a username/password with Download Genius to get access.
Easter Sunday April 20, 2014
Message from the Delta Queen Hotel Facebook Page
Sent in by Jo Ann Schoen
"Attention Delta Queen supporters, we our important legislation allowing the DQ to return to overnight service is working its way through the Senate, we urge you all to call or email your Senatorss urging them to support S. 1022!"
Jo Ann adds: The time has finally arrived. Call, write, fax, email or stop by your Senator's office right away. Ask all your family and friends to do the same.
Let's make sure the Senate gets the same message the House did. It's a non-partisan issue and the information about her safety issues were false, put out by a business man who feels threatened by our Queen!
Editor's note: Thank you Jo Ann for sharing this!! Let's call our Senators!!
March 21, 2014
Support the Delta Queen as a Cincinnati Landmark
The Cincinnati Preservation Association is holding a contest on Facebook to vote foryour favorite Cincinnati landmark. The Delta Queen is neck and neck with other greatlandmarks, but we need your vote to pull ahead. Be sure to "vote" ("like" does not cut itin this contest).Vote Here!Go to "view entries," then choose the Delta Queen, and vote.
March 20, 2014
Valuable Information Brought to You By Steamboats.com
In Mark Twain's novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom gets the other children topay him for the privilege of helping him whitewash the fence. Following is a list of whatthe children gave Tom:
Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out,Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with—and so on, and so on,hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boyin the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned,twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon,a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier,a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar—butno dog—the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.
March 6, 2014
Collector Requests Help Identifying Items
On Mar 4, 2014, at 12:24 PM, Curtis wrote:
Thank you for your wonderful site! I am a collector of historical documents and sometimes also come across other items. The other day I purchased two light fixtures that are engraved with the words, "Robert E Lee".
The fixtures appear to have at one time been wick type lanterns which were converted to electricity by their owner much later. The reflector plates have also been replaced, However the rest of the fixtures seem to be of the right age to have been on the Robert E Lee steamboat. They are 24 inches high and 9 inches wide.
These came from a region of river working families near the Ohio river and it is my understanding that those who navigated the Ohio often took jobs on other rivers like the Mississippi as well.
I have attached some pictures and wondered if I could get your expert opinion on whether you think these did indeed come from that steamboat and f so from what period. Thanks so much for any help you can give.
Editor's Note If you can offer information, please write to Curtis directly (click here for email).
Time to Call Your Two U.S. Senators
Save the Delta Queen legislation is finally making its way through the Senate.Last year the House of Representatives approved the bill, so this year if the Senate canpass it, put them together, the House will sign off. The bill will go to the president, andAmerican history will benefit.
Therefore, if you have not already done it, call up your Senators and tell them that you support S. 1022to preserve aworthy historic boat. If you have a quick personal story, be sure to tell it. Whether you went for acruise or just waved to the boat from the shore, throw that in. Also, you may add that having agenuine historic vessel traveling the rivers means something to you, even if you would prefer totravel on a more modern vessel. Like our national parks and open land, it is nice to know it's outthere, and thriving.
You can reach your two Senators here: (202) 224-3121. Have their names readyso the switchboard operator can connect you immediately.
Find your two U.S. Senators by state: http://www.senate.gov/
Text of S. 1022:To amend title 46, United States Code, to extend the exemption from the fire-retardant materials construction requirement for vessels operating within the Boundary Line.
February 7, 2014
U.S. Senate Delta Grassroots Caucus
Presses Forward with Save the Delta Queen Legislation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Following is a press release from Caucus Director Lee Powell (202) 360-6347.
Also contact: Jay Webster, (engineering expert on the structure of the Delta Queen based in New Orleans)—(850) 525-3830.
"Delta Caucus Praises Senators Boozman, Pryor, Brown, Portman, Landrieu & Vitter for Co-Sponsoring Delta Queen Bill, Urges Rapid Senate Passage."
The Delta Grassroots Caucus praises Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for co-sponsoring the Senate bill to permit the historic steamboat Delta Queen to resume its travels on the Mississippi River and her tributaries. The House passed the bill by a wide margin of 280-89 last fall and the Delta Caucus urges rapid passage by the Senate, where many Senators from both parties are supporters.
"It is time to act right now—the Delta Queen has an exemplary safety record, is a national historic treasure and brings tourist dollars and helps create jobs in the Mississippi Delta as well as the Ohio River valley, and we are delighted that Senator Pryor and Senator Boozman are now co-sponsors of the Delta Queen bill along with many other Senate supporters from both parties," said Caucus Director Lee Powell.
"We encourage the Senate to pass the Delta Queen bill, S. 1022, as rapidly as possible because engineers and other steamboat experts have stated that the longer the boat sits as a floating hotel and does not travel, the more difficult and expensive it is to do the renovations, improvements and updates needed to get her back to cruising again," Powell said.
The bill passed the House by a wide margin on Sept. 25, 2013, but understandably the Senate was absorbed by the government shutdown, budget debates and the farm bill in the period after that, so a smaller-scale but nonetheless meritorious issue like the Delta Queen bill was put on hold. Now it is time to act and move forward right now.
Senate supporters include Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Senators Boozman and Pryor from Arkansas, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), and many others. The Delta Queen previously traveled all along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and their tributaries, with stops at many communities from New Orleans to Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, Memphis, Missouri and farther north, and on the Ohio to Cincinnati and beyond.
Jay Webster, an engineer and steamboat expert with extensive knowledge of the Delta Queen based in New Orleans (he is now manager of Sabine Surveyors LTD's Shipyard Services Division) said "This issue is urgent, because the Delta Queen has been docked as a floating hotel for five years in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and like any machine, the lack of travel by the steamboat creates the need for improvements and renovations to get her ready for overnight cruises again."
"The steamboat cannot resume her travels without Senate passage of the Delta Queen bill, and the longer the boat sits in one place the more expensive the needed renovations and improvements will be," Webster said.
Sen. Boozman said, "The Delta Queen is an iconic piece of our history. She's carried presidents and princesses up and down some of America's most beautiful inland waterways, including the Mississippi River where she spent considerable time trudging the river's muddy waters. All the while, she has maintained an excellent safety record. By allowing the Delta Queen to operate again, we can create jobs and bring tourist dollars to communities along the Mississippi and its tributaries."
Sen. Pryor said, "I sponsored this bill, along with Senator Boozman and the other members of the Arkansas delegation, so we can get the Delta Queen back where she belongs—traveling on the MR&T. It's time for the Senate to take up and pass this bipartisan bill so the Delta Queen can resume her travels and bring much-needed dollars and jobs to the Delta."
Delta Caucus Vice chairman and State Representative Mark McElroy of southeast Arkansas said "The Delta Queen is an icon of the Delta, and the longer we wait to pass this bill the less chance we have of getting the boat back on the Mississippi."
The absolutely essential step in getting the Delta Queen traveling again is Senate passage of the exemption to the Safety of Life at Sea Act (SOLAS), which was intended to apply to ocean-going vessels; but the Delta Queen was caught in its technical provisions when the Coast Guard expanded SOLAS to include boats operating on inland waterways—the Delta Queen was the only boat that was affected by this expansion.
Due to the Queen's exemplary safety record, Congress approved the exemption to SOLAS for 42 years. The Safety of Life at Sea act (our italics) was intended to apply to ocean-going vessels that travel far out to sea, and not to riverboats that are always close to the shore. Over its entire history, the Delta Queen was operated safely in cruising America's rivers for 80 years.
"We would like to commend the Seafarers International Union, the American Maritime Officers, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation for endorsing this legislation," Powell said. The Delta Queen has been officially designated as a National Historic Landmark.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently donated $2 million toward deferred maintenance of the Delta Queen.
"Passage of the bill is essential and on the positive side will also provide additional positive publicity and incentive to investors who have expressed interest in buying the boat and resuming her travels," Webster said.
Webster said that "No investors are going to buy the boat and make those major investments for the needed improvements and renovations before they even know if the Senate is going to pass the bill giving the boat legal permission to travel again."
Editor's note: this is great news, thank you. More press coverage: Arkansas News "Boozman, Pryor join Delta Queen effort," Feb. 7, 2014;Natchez Democrat, "Bill would allow ship to sail," Feb. 10, 2014;Natchez Democrat, Editorial: "Delta Queen deserves her river freedom," Feb. 12, 2014;Vicksburg Post, "Senators support a return for Delta Queen," Feb. 12, 2014.
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