A Legislative and Corporate History
From the Files of Bill N. Muster
and Richard C. Simonton

Muster & Simonton Delta Queen documents index - click here.
Delta Queen legislative and coroprate timeline - click here.

Summary: According to legislation passed in 1968, Nov. 2 was to be the last day the Delta Queen could function as an overnight passenger boat. Going into the last season, Delta Queen sales figures and public interest soared. Legislators agreed to support pro-Delta Queen legislation, provided Greene Line could secure a contract and financing for building a new boat.

Despite their inability to guarantee the construction of a new vessel, a campaign to lobby Congress for further legislative relief began early in the year. Muster wrote numerous letters to Congressmen and continued personal correspondence throughout the year. Greene Line strengthened its position with Congress by consulting NASA engineers on fireproofing technology for the boat. Further support came in April, when the U.S. Dept. of the Interior named the Delta Queen as a national historic monument.

Greene Line Steamers launched a mass letter-writing campaign and petition drive. An estimated 250,000 American citizens participated by contacting their government representatives, the media, or signing petitions. President Nixon alone received an estimated 1,500 letters by the end of November. As Congresswoman Sullivan from St. Louis said, "the cause of the Delta Queen has generated more public interest and mail than any other issue since the Cambodian invasion." Greene Line Steamers issued "SOS Certificates" to Congressmen and private citizens for their help in rallying support.

Twenty bills were introduced in the House and two in the Senate, many asking for complete exemption from the Safety at Sea Act. On June 26, the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved HR 15424 (the Merchant Marine bill) with an amendment to save the Delta Queen. Meanwhile Rep. Garmatz, chairman of the House Committee on Merchant Marine, refused to hold hearings on any of the Delta Queen bills pending in his committee.

The Merchant Marine Bill, with the Delta Queen amendment, was approved by the full Senate in September. When it went to a joint House-Senate conference for final confirmation in October, Garmatz killed the Delta Queen amendment. It happened in a tense bargaining session where Sen. Russell Long had to give in to Garmatz in order to get other parts of the Merchant Marine bill approved.

Garmatz blocked the Delta Queen amendment despite a recommendation signed by 195 Congressmen favoring the boat. Garmatz tried to defend his position by putting the blame on the U.S. Coast Guard, who found the vessel unsafe. Public media condemned Garmatz's action, naming him as the "one who put an end to steamboating in America." Documents include correspondence with Garmatz showing his opposition.

When legislation failed, the Delta Queen set sail on its final voyage--a 2,000 mile journey to New Orleans. City and state officials, high school bands, and throngs of sympathizers lined the shores in river cities and locks, and turned out to meet the Queen for the last time. The press followed the boat down the river and hundreds of articles appeared in local and national papers, and on TV. In New Orleans, jazz bands greeted the boat and gave her an official jazz funeral. Towboats, excursion boats, and fire boats followed the Queen to pay tribute. One Mississippi journalist wrote, "It was something like a New Orleans funeral where you didn't know whether to clap your hands and sing, or cry."

In October, Marlow Cook tacked a Delta Queen amendment to a private relief bill (Elmer M. Grade, HR 6114). The amendment passed the Senate and went to the House. Because of the nature of the bill, it did not go to Rep. Garmatz's committee, but was considered by the judiciary committee instead.

When HR 6114 was debated before the House in December, Garmatz circulated a letter with a hand-drawn skull and crossbones to his colleagues. He warned that if a disaster ever struck the Delta Queen, "the blood would be on the hands of Congress." (The incident of the warning letter was covered in the Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati Post, Dec. 3; the December issue of Waterways Journal, and the Dec. 15 Congressional Record. Click here to see the letter.)

The Elmer M. Grade bill passed with the Delta Queen rider on Dec. 17, 295 to 73, after a dramatic fight on the floor of the House of Representatives (covered in the Congressional Record). On Dec. 31, President Nixon signed the bill into law, giving the boat three more years to live. With the last-minute reprieve, Greene Line Steamers and ONA began to plan the 1971 season.

The year's media coverage included five minutes on the CBS Evening News with Roger Mudd, the NBC news, an ABC TV special ("This Land is Mine"), the Today Show, Life and Newsweek magazines, and a second-time front-page of the New York Times. The Washington Post and newspapers from nearly every state (including Alaska and Hawaii) covered the story of the Delta Queen with hundreds articles and editorials. Three movies and documentaries were produced, including one by National Geographic.

A CBS-TV special called "America" featured John Hartford singing "Gentle on My Mind," aboard the boat. Johnny Cash appealed to his ABC-TV show audience to save the Delta Queen and sang a song about her. An Oklahoma rock band called "Carp" wrote Save the Delta Queen and recorded it on the Epic label.

Read the highlights for this year or skip to 1971

Jan. 1970:

Misc.: Correspondence with Congress, supporters, USCG; financial, Clairol, Inc. refund, operations; layup invoices.

News Clippings: Two "save DQ " articles; Sunset magazine, questions and answers on DQ.

Feb. 1970:

Misc.: Correspondence and documents regarding operations, USCG regarding Clairol.

Cycloidal Propeller: Information and brochures regarding German propellers.

News Clippings: "Upriver to Memphis," photo story on DQ/save DQ, Shreverport Journal; cover story Sacramento Magazine Sunday magazine recalling DQ and DK on Sacramento River; Waterways Journal, photo of DQ in St. Louis; "Queen Arrives," Greenville, Mississippi paper.

March 1970:

Misc.: Correspondence and documents regarding hull inspection, pollution, operations.

Save DQ: Correspondence: with National Trust for Historic Preservation, Congress, supporters letters to Garmatz; letter from Ernest J. Corrado, Congressional Counsel, on why foreign vessels are exempt from the Saftey at Sea law, even though the DQ is not.

Steamboat Times March 7 & 8, Blake's statement to the National Trust for Historic Peservation on why it was important to save the DQ and why the new boat had not been started yet.

Correspondence with Sullivan inviting her to judge the steamboat race, her acceptance, and acknowledging her acceptance.

"I'm hooked on the Delta Queen," by Muster, a statement about why the DQ should be preserved.

Document: Statements by Greene Line Steamers:

If the Delta Queen is exempted from PL 89-777, we will voluntarily make the following additional safety improvements in the vessel. (Improvements include smoke detectors, hull replating, bowthruster, fire-retardant paint in staterooms, emergency power plant, etc.)

Document ennumerates reasons why building a new steamship is impractical, ie costs, technology, etc.

Arguments supporting Delta Queen, i.e. last real overnight steamboat, never far from shore, unblemished safety record, adequate sprinkler system and other protection, most staterooms open to outside decks, many improvements have already been made, etc.

News Clippings: National Trust for Historic Preservation charters DQ, Philadelphia Inquirer, Cleveland Plain Dealer; "Sternwheeler Still Plies Between City, Memphis," New Orleans Times-Picayune; end of an era articles; US Maritime News, on mortgage insurance, other legislation; American Airlines promotional brochure.

April 1970:

Misc.: Correspondence and documents regarding operations, inspections, repair, Baldwin/Blake management responsibilities, high sales figures, unions; press release on hiring Robert Baldwin; USCG safety Standards.

Save DQ/PR: Correspondence: National Registry of Historic Places (DQ becomes historical monument). NBC News. Press releases: DQ Day at Hannibal, DQ's last season, steamboat race, TV documentary script, misc. PR materials and correspondence.

Garmatz letters; Statement by Sullivan ("Today I introduced legislation to continue one of our country's greatest traditions"), by McCulloch ("Today I introduced legislation. . . that would preserve the last page of America's 160-year-old riverboat history."); HR 16933 (Sullivan "To exempt from certain deep-draft safety statutes"); HR 17307 (Cowger "To exempt from certain deep-draft safety statutes"); Congressional Records, remarks by Saxbe and Long, Congressional Record McCulloch statement, Sullivan statement, Saxbe statement. Letter from Sullivan to a citizen saying she doesn't have much hope of saving the DQ.

"We Need Your Help to Save the Delta Queen," statement by Muster asking for exemption. Hannibal, Missouri Mayor's Proclamation of "Delta Queen Day."

News Clippings: Waterways Journal, "Future Prospects of the Steamer DQ," by Quinby; Calliope newsletter including various articles; New York Times, "Delta Queen, Link to Twain Era, Doomed"; other "doomed" and "save DQ" articles; San Francisco Chronicle, on history of riverboats, end of era; other nostalgia articles; Washington Post, "The Plight of the Delta Queen"; Hannibal Courier-Post, special edition for "DQ Day," including mayor's proclamation of DQ day; articles on Sullivan and saving DQ; Cincinnati Enquirer,"DQ to be on ABC-TV Special"; Woman's Day, "Great American River Trips"; "Rep. Hungate Against New Queen Bill."

May 1970:

Misc.: Correspondence and documents regarding high sales figures, operations.

Save DQ/PR Letter to legislators asking for help to save DQ, other letters to legislators, to other government officials. Correspondence with Garmatz and Garmatz letter to colleagues.

HR 17418 (Minshall on financial responsibility); letters to supporters; cartoon of Blake selling "last cruise."

"Mark Twain, Where are You?" a flier asking the SATW to write travel stories about the DQ. Media list; information on "Carp" band.

News Clippings: Cincinnati Post Saturday magazine "Long Live the Queen"; Christian Science Monitor, "Legal Issue Steers Riverboat Up Creek"; Washington Post, steamboat race; articles on Cincinnati riverfront project, Natchez mayor, last steamboat; steamboat race (Belle of Louisville wins); editorials on DQ; Central magazine, "Ol Man River" with photos.

June 1970:

Misc.: Correspondence regarding high sales figures, operations, Blake raise, cash box theft, itinerary, financial, London Times photographer's cameras, DQ not for sale.

Save DQ/PR Congressional mailing list. Supporters' letters; letter to legislators on status of 18 pending bills to save DQ; letter to Sullivan, Garmatz letters; letter to supporter.
Congressional Record, statement by Culver, "God Save the Good Old Delta Queen"; statement by Boggs, "Will Congress Save the Delta Queen?"

Announcement of DQ on Today Show. Correspondence with National Trust for Historic Preservation; with London Times photographer.

News Clippings: Articles on recent actions by government, including Times-Picayune, Boston Globe, others; on Garmatz opposition, including St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dayton Daily News, others; on Carp song; on railroad accidents; on "end of an era"; General Features, "God Save the Queen."

July 1970:

Misc.: Correspondence and documents regarding cash box theft, operations, insurance, layup invoices, Blake raise.

Save DQ/PR: Letter to legislators on NASA fireproofing and save DQ campaign. USCG Admiral Bender to Garmatz, telling him that "promised" DQ improvements were not made. Correspondence with other legislators, including Griffin, Mailliard, Stubblefield; with NASA.

Save DQ petition count; press release on DQ placed on the National Register of Historic Places; announcement of DQ documentary broadcasts; Congressional Record, statement by Minshall, "Save the Delta Queen."

News Clippings: Life magazine photo; articles on Save DQ, including Chicago Tribune, UPI, AP; on protest in Washington, including Washington Post, Washington Daily News; on historic monument, including AP; on moving DQ to Amazon River; on NASA fireproofing; numerous editorials in favor of the Queen; letter to the editor in New York Times; Journal of Commerce, "Senate Alters Maritime Bill."

Chamberlain: Correspondence regarding DQ foe.

Aug. 1970:

Misc.: Correspondence and documents regarding operations, itinerary, Cincinnati riverfront.

Save DQ/PR: Correspondence with US Dept. of Interior (notification that DQ was placed on National Register of Historic Places and in Federal Register).

DQ Foes: Correspondence with Garmatz, Annunzio, Dept. of Transportation, USCG Admirals Rea and Bender.

DQ Friends: Corresponence with legislators, including Perkins, Rakestraw, etc.; Counsel Mooney, other friends, supporters, Life magazine, other media.

Correspondence with Lowrie, Ltda, in South America, about bringing the DQ to the Amazon River.

News Clippings: Life magazine letters to the editor; Articles on the legislative battle to save DQ, including Catering Industry Employee magazine, Motor News magazine, Minnesota Motorist magazine, The Salem News, Marine and Recreation News, The American Way in-flight magazine, Tropic Sunday magazine, The Houston Post, Youngstown Vindicator, Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati Post, Omaha World-Herald,San Antonio Express/News, Indianapolis News, Stockton Record.

Save DQ cocktail party, including Los Angeles Times, Washington Evening Star, Washington Post; NASA fireproofing, including Louisville Courier-Journal, Dayton, Ohio News.

Muster and DQ, Louisville Courier-Journal.

Editorials favoring DQ, including Chicago Sun-Times, Arizona Republic, Waterways Journal, Chicago Today, Cincinnati Enquirer, Houston Post.

Garmatz opposing DQ, including Waterways Journal, Marietta Times, Evening Sun, Courier-Journal, Kentucky Post, Evanston Press; on USCG opposing DQ, including Louisville Times, Courier-Journal.

German clipping; Hollywood Reporter, brief mention; Middletown Journal on Delta King; Cincinnati Enquirer profile of Captain Lollar.

Sept. 1970:

Misc.: Correspondence and documents regarding operations, legal (ONA bonus), media.

Save DQ: DQ Foes: Correspondence with Federal Maritime Commission, congressmen, USCG, Dept. of Transportation, others. Muster statement to Garmatz and Bender on safety merits and improvements on DQ.

DQ Friends: Letter to congressmen regarding Garmatz criticism, other correspondence with congressmen.

Supporters' Letters: Letters to congress, President Nixon, the media. Muster to supporters ("We really appreciate your continued help. . . As of last week, President Nixon received more than 1,500 letters and wires"); pamphlet mailer: "Only an Act of Congress can Save the Delta Queen."

News Clippings: Five AP articles on Save DQ campaign ("Sen. Marlow Cook, R-Ky, told the Senate the Coast Guard's Eagle has a wooden structure and hammocks instead of bunks.") including photo/caption of riverboat petition on steps of Capital.

Other Save DQ stories, including letter campaign, Sen. Cook and Coast Guard boat, SATW backs DQ, National Waterways Conference Newsletter; travel story in S.F. Valley Times; Christian Science Monitor, "Battle to Save the DQ "; promotional poster with photos and Save DQ story; poem and photos for Chester Bridge; Boat's purser defends Queen.

Editorials and letters: Marine Engineering Log, Dayton Daily News, Travel Agent, The Evening Review, Washington Daily News, The Courier-Journal, The Commercial Appeal, The Sacramento Union, The Cincinnati Post, The News American.

Oct. 1970:

Misc.: Correspondence and documents regarding operations, liquor license, taxes, DQ not for sale, Hannibal media list, itinerary, unions; Steamboat Times; poem.

Save DQ: Letter from Secretary Volpe regarding NASA fireproofing of Delta Queen; correspondence with supporters; transcribed notes on Garmatz bribe; song from Johnny Cash Show; Congressional Report on HR 19553 (for subsidy); HR 19553 ("to provide subsidy for the construction of a river passenger vessel."); statement by Muster ("The US Congress is now working on legislation to financially assist the owners in building a vessel to replace the Delta Queen").

Defeat of HR 15424 (Maritime Bill with DQ amendment): Congressional Record, discussion between Garmatz and Sullivan (Sullivan: "Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my extreme disappointment in the action of the conferees in refusing to exempt the Delta Queen from the provisions of the safety at sea law "); Congressional Record (Mailliard and Garmatz); statement by Muster: "DQ Amendment Defeated in Conference Committee." Correspondence with Reps. Garmatz, Long, Mailliard, Scott, others.

Elmer M. Grade, HR 6114: Legislator's letters and statements of support; Congressional Report and Congressional Record on HR 6114; press release and statement by GLS on Elmer Grade bill.

News Clippings: Three AP stories, including "Congress Sinks the Riverboat."

Farewell DQ /Save DQ /lost battle/financing new boat articles, including Newsweek magazine, The Michigan State Journal, Los Angeles Commerce News ("The Queen is Dead"); Rock Island Argus, New Orleans States-Item, Telegraph-Herald, St. Louis Globe-Democrat (cover Sunday magazine); Chicago Daily News, Chicago Today, Galesburg Register-Mail, St. Paul Pioneer Press, St. Paul Dispatch, The Minneapolis Star, Marietta Times, Temple City Times, Commercial Appeal, Centralia Sentinel ("The Delta Queen: Ship, Sail, or Sell?"), The Louisville Times, The Cleveland Press, The Daden City Journal, Dayton Daily News, The Pittsburgh Press, Morgantown Dominion-Post, Cincinnati Enquirer.

Editorials and letters: San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle, Marrieta Times, Memphis Press-Scimitar, Journal Herald (cartoon); Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, Valparaiso Vidette-Messenger, Indianapolis Star, Washington DC Traffic World magazine, The Kentucky Post, Red Wing Republican Eagle.

Other articles: DQ car crash; Journal of Commerce, "Riverboat May Delay Fleet Bill"; Ohio Magazine, "Ohio Riverboat Dreams"; St. Paul riverboat race (DQ beats Julie N Dubuque); Elmer M. Grade's "sinkable bill"; Blake wins SATW Connie award; Queen stowaway wins bet.

Nov. 1970:

Misc.: Correspondence and documents regarding operations, layup preparation, DQ not for sale.

Save DQ/PR: Correspondence with Congress; to McCulloch listing proposed safety improvements; to supporters; Congressional Record, comments of Schwengel, Baker, Saxbe, Scott, Hartke, Cook (pro-DQ ); Senator Scott press release; Alabama resolution; Muster's farewell speech as press release; statement by Muster (on last trip); media and public support summary (200 editorials, governors' support, resolutions and proclamations, etc.); rough draft of DQ situation by Blake; draft of letter to legislators regarding support of Grade bill; McCulloch letter to colleagues supporting DQ, notes by Muster; telegram to Blake, letter to supporter.

News Clippings: Articles on DQ farewell/last chance: New York Times, Cincinnati Enquirer Sunday magazine, Minneapolis Tribune Sunday magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Blytheville Courier News, Cincinnati Enquirer, Cedar Rapids Gazette, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Quincy Herald-Whig, AP, AP photo ("Tapps for the Queen"); Chicago Tribune, Dayton Journal Herald, Minneapolis Tribune, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, Times-Picayune, St. Paul Dispatch, New Orleans States-Item, Blytheville Courier-News, Dayton Daily News, Antique Monthly, Cincinnati Post.

On Garmatz: Cincinnati Enquirer, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Times Herald.

Editorials, letters: Cincinnati Post, Journal Herald, WQUA radio, Newsweek magazine, New Orleans States Item, double-truck farewell ad Natchez Democrat, cartoon Times-Picayune, Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Dallas Times Herald, Canton Press-News, Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, Sydney, Ohio News,

Dec. 1970:

Misc.: Correspondence and documents regarding operations, license renewal, sales figures and Blake bonus, financial, CPA report; ONA stockholders' report.

Save DQ: Letters to legislators thanking them for support; to supporters; telegram to congressmen and list of names; recap of HR 6114 vote; Conference Report; HR 6114 signed by Nixon; phone conversation transcript; press release on victory/layup plans; Calliope newsletter on Save DQ campaign; Garmatz's "skull and crossbones" letter and Muster's reply.

Press release, "Three Year Extension for Delta Queen!"

Congressional Record: comments by Garmatz against HR 6114; Findley comments and letters, Schwengel comments on DQ participation in WWII, Saxbe, Scott, Hartke, Baker, Sullivan; Dec. 15: Railsback (including articles, Muster letter to McCulloch on repairs, all testimony).

Layup: Documents regarding layup, repairs, budget and drydock.

News Clippings: Elmer M Grade bill/last effort/layup: ONA Horizons, Washington Star, AP, UPI, New Orleans States-Item, Riverside Daily Enterprise, New York Times (AP story), Middletown Journal, Omaha World-Herald, Dayton Daily News.

On skull and crossbones letter: Waterways Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati Post.

Editorials, letters: Dayton Journal (cartoon), Kentucky Post, Rochester, NY paper, Winona Daily News, New Orleans States-Item, Courier-Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer.

Travel Weekly, ONA ad.


Misc.: Correspondence and documents regarding operations, personnel.

Save DQ: List of bills to save DQ; DQ fact sheet; letter-writing campaign brochure ("Only An Act of Congress Can Save the Delta Queen"); statement: "A Permanent Exemption for the DQ "; Silver Anvil Award speech; notes from Congress; Garmatz form letter; congressional quotes on DQ; "Discussion of Issues"; misc. wording of bills and amendments; list of repairs to be made (permanent exemption); words to "Save the Delta Queen" by Carp; petition; information for thanking congressmen.

News Clippings: Save DQ /Farewell DQ, etc., numerous articles and editorials.

MISC.: Miss Delta Queen in Hospital; new boat too expensive, answer from Todd Shipyard; invitation to bid; Jennie Hoffner's SOS certificate and poem; fashion model and paddlewheel; Master Charge ad with DQ.

NASA Fireproofing: Literature and burned samples of fabric.