inaction to send
Delta Queen into retirement
vessel will be docked after this season
(September 2007) Wayne Rassman of Warsaw, Ky.,
remembers seeing steamboats travel up and down the Ohio River since
he was a small child. I grew up with steamboats, and I love them,
he said. They are part of our history.
Rassman is just one of the many steamboat advocates working to save
the historic paddlewheeler Delta Queen from being permanently being.
Majestic America Line, the owner of the American treasure, on Aug. 1
announced the U.S. Congress will not extend the Delta Queens exemption
from a 1966 maritime law banning passenger vessels with wooden superstructures
that carry more than 50 overnight passengers from operating from a U.S.
by Don Ward
Delta Queen makes one of her
many stops in Madison. The colorful
steamboat arrives with caliope fanfare
and always draws a crowd of fans.
Although the 80-year-old steamboat has a beautiful superstructure
styled and crafted with oak, mahogany, cedar, teak and extremely rare
Siamese Ironbark, she also has two complete all-steel hulls under her.
Congress has allowed the historic boat to operate with a special exemption
from the law for more than 40 years. The exemption has been extended
six times but is now set to expire in November 2008.
Despite efforts by the owners of the elegant icon of Americana and thousands
of loyal supporters, including many congressional leaders, a seventh
extension was not included on recent legislation.
We are incredibly disappointed by this decision, but we are extremely
grateful to those who worked tirelessly on behalf of the Delta Queen
to preserve her place on the Mississippi River, said Joe Ueberroth,
president and CEO of Ambassadors International, which owns and operates
Majestic America Line, in a press release. We appreciate their
efforts and we will continue to keep them involved as we plan the best
way to honor the Delta Queen.
Twenty-four final cruises through November 2008 have been planned for
the great, historic steamboat as an overnight passenger vessel. Majestic
Lines said it is committed to providing the Delta Queen with a proper
and well-deserved send off before she retires.
Built in 1926, the Delta Queen is registered as a National Historic
Landmark and is the last of thousands of operational steam-powered stern-wheelers
that used to be seen traveling the rivers in the U.S. She was inducted
into the National Maritime Hall of Fame in 2004.
A veteran of World War II and the only steamboat to transit the Panama
Canal, the Delta Queen has been host to three U.S. presidents and a
princess. Numerous celebrities and other dignitaries have graced her
hand-crafted decks and stately rooms.
She can accommodate up to 176 passengers on her four luxurious decks
and for years has been a beloved fixture along the Mississippi, Ohio,
Tennessee, Arkansas, Black Warrior and Cumberland rivers.
Wherever she goes, crowds gather along the banks to see her majestic
red sternwheel churn the waters. She brings tourism dollars into
the communities where she stops, said Rassman.
Passengers on the boat shop and dine at the various stops, and steamboat
lovers travel to the ports to get a close look at her. Madison, Ind.,
is one of the towns along the Ohio River where she makes regular stops.
She is going to be sorely missed if we dont do something,
He has been involved for years in the continuing efforts to renew her
exemption. There have been numerous initiatives over the years by former
owners and fans. A new online petition is urging supporters to contact
their senators and congressmen to push for another extension for the
Rassman said he was amazed to find out three of the five congressmen
in his area didnt know anything about the situation. We
need to get Congress to act now, he said. Sitting back and
waiting is not going to get this done.
For more information about the private initiative
to save the historic Delta Queen, visit: www.save-the-delta-queen.org.
Back to September 2007