Here’s the scoop on the Delta Queen.

Delta Queen Steamboat to be Floating Hotel in Chattanooga

Updated: Jan 27, 2009 06:43 PM CST

 

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – The historic Delta Queen riverboat will call Chattanooga home for a while, as a floating hotel. The leader of a grassroots organization to save the Delta Queen, Vicki Webster, emailed the Channel 3 Eyewitness Newsroom on Tuesday afternoon.

Ambassadors International, Inc. has announced that they have chartered the boat to a company in Chattanooga for use as a hotel.

In a message sent to the boat’s supporters, Webster said, “Our mission is to make sure that indeed, this is a temporary move and the Delta Queen will soon be back in operation, plying the entire Mississippi River system as she has done proudly and safely for 60 years.””

The Delta Queen has been nominated for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2009 list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in America. The final selections will be announced in April.

Webster said, “There is only one remaining example of the hundreds of steamboats that once traversed our heartland, weaving our nation together in the process. There is only one example of the steamboats that inspired the work of creative giants like Mark Twain, Jerome Kern, Louis Armstrong, Edna Ferber, and Walker Evans. To stand idly by and watch the destruction of the Delta Queen would not only be a betrayal of the Trust’s mission. It would also be an act of pure treachery to our culture, to the pioneers who came before us, and to future generations who deserve the chance to travel on this quintessentially American treasure.””

 

                      The “Rarest and Cutest” Creature on Earth!
A White Phase Lion cub with siblings!

Do I love this? A white phase lion cub with siblings!!!!

You may know that I have a special interest in “white phase” critters on this earth. On a recent trip south, the airline magazine featured the “cutest and rarest creature on earth.” Guess what? It was a white phase LION cub. The article noted that it was not an albino, but a “white phase” LION due to a recessive gene.To recap, it takes TWO parents with recessive “white phase” genes to produce a “white phase” cub. Why a recessive gene in an African lion???

On a recent birding trip to Panama in December, I was priviledged to sit next to a Smithsonian scientist who had been studying tropical Panama for 30 years. He spoke of the difference between cold weather creatures and tropical creatures. The key word for mammals that must survive in temperate climates is ADAPTABILITY. Tropical plants and animals are experts in finding SPECIALIZED NICHES. Lions have not always been confined to Africa! More about that to come!

Meanwhile, visit our new TRAVEL PHOTO site at www.greatriver.smugmug.com to see photos from the Panama Trip!

Now the Tundra Swans are Coming In!

 Tundra Swans are on the river… a large population along Wis Hwy 35, immediately south of Goose Island. At the same time, large numbers of American White Pelicans are resting just north of the Dike above Stoddard. No doubt there are similar populations near Brownsville, MN… let us know if you’ve been over there… and pick up your NEW Volume 1, St. Paul to Dubuque (below) at the Shellhorn Grill just above the birding overlooks in Brownsville!

Crewing a boat on the Mississippi River

Had a request recently from a young adult interested in “hopping” a boat down the Mississippi River. In the fall, owners of many larger yachts are moving boats south to warmer climates. Some few will take the Mississippi River all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Most will detour through the Tom-Bigby Waterway. But sometimes these yachts do need crew for the journey. We’ve added a “CREW” category to our Travel Directory. So if you are interested in crewing or looking for crew, have a look. Good luck!

Capt. Norman Hillman lived as a professional on Americas rivers for over 60 years. In his book he shares his pilot house perspectives on the dangers and suprises of life on the river.

Capt. Norman Hillman lived as a professional on America's rivers for over 60 years. In his book he shares his pilot house perspectives on the dangers and suprises of life on the river.

If you are interested in the world of commercial towboat crew, have a look at ONE MAN AND THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI by Capt. Norman Hillman. He shares 60 years of commercial river experiences. Newly reprinted and available at our online shopping cart. I might also recommend THE RIVER COMPANION which is a primer in brown water navigation. The DISCOVER! AMERICA’s GREAT RIVER ROAD guidebooks will introduce you to life and culture of the Mississippi River.

I also just rediscovered a contribution in our feature story section with specific advice for finding a job on a barge crew. Visit http://http://greatriver.com/features/finding a tow job.htm

New Guidebook to the Upper River now Available!

Limestone bluff and backwater at Goose Island provides a natural easel for Fall Color along the Mississippi River, St. Paul, Minnesota, to Dubuque, Iowa. Photo by Richard Middleton, La Crosse. Graphic work by Tall Tree Photo and Graffolio.

Limestone bluff and backwater at Goose Island provides a natural easel for Fall Color along the Mississippi River, St. Paul, Minnesota, to Dubuque, Iowa. Photo by Richard Middleton, La Crosse. Graphic work by Tall Tree Photo and Graffolio.

Good folks, I’ve been absent for some time as I worked diligently this summer to meet fall deadlines for publication and distribution of our BRAND NEW Volume 1 of DISCOVER! AMERICA’s GREAT RIVER ROAD. It’s DONE, completely reformated, revisited, and expanded… and it’s ready now for purchase in time for the whole Fall Color and Christmas gift season.

I’m very proud to expanded both the Minnesota and Iowa sections and added many little tidbits that I’ve learned to love in the past 20 years… eagle watching, archaeology, and discovering just who else loves this river… and why!

You can order our newest guidebook right on the home page of www.greatriver.com or visiting our online store for more detail… www.greatriverarts.com/shopping/

Also available from most bookstores. Enjoy!!  ~ Pat

Wisconsin Travel Update: BIKE TRAILS and more

The Mississippi River crested last week just over flood stage at around 16.3 feet at Prairie du Chien. The river dropped to about 13.5 feet this week and is forecast to steadily decline to around 12 feet by this upcoming weekend.

The Wisconsin Journal has reported the following park openings as milder weather allows for needed repairs:

Both campground at Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo and the Elroy-Sparta State Bike Trail have been reopened.  Wildcat Mountain State Park is scheduled to reopen July 3.

While the park and campgrounds at Devil’s Lake are open to visitors, a number of trails and facilities will remain closed due to flooding and storm damage, including both the North and South Shore boat landings; most hiking trails; portions of picnic areas; and the South Shore bathrooms. Portable toilets will be available for visitors using the South Shore picnic area. The park’s beach is underwater, but it has tested as safe, and swimming will be allowed. Most hiking trails are closed.

The 400 State BIKE Trail and portions of the Military Ridge State Trail remain closed. Military Ridge is closed in two locations because of standing water under the second box culvert approximately 2 miles west of Verona and approximately one-half mile east of Klevenville on a section of blacktopped trail.

Check the State Parks current conditions page of the DNR Web site for more information.

The Lower Wisconsin River has dropped considerably in the past week and is approaching near normal seasonal flows. Some sandbars are returning but people considering any paddling this weekend need to be aware there is much more debris and more contaminants in the river than normal due to the flooding. The Kickapoo River has also dropped considerably, but is still well above seasonal normal flows.

Rain amounts in the north have finally filled many lakes for the first time in a number of years, although some lakes are still considerably below normal water levels. Northern river systems like the Flambeau and Chippewa are currently at good seasonal levels for paddling.

Though the Wisconsin River has dropped back down to a normal flow level, Lower Wisconsin and Wisconsin River users are staying away due to DNR warnings of contaminated water. All of the streams in Southwestern Wisconsin have been affected by the flooding, causing wide and braided channels.

The floods have scoured silt-laden places and deposited sediment and rock in other. Streams that have been constricted by bridges and culverts have completely blown out or have created large pools downstream.  Be aware that in many areas banks have eroded and may give way underfoot. Strong currents in rivers and streams pose an additional threat.

Fishing on the Mississippi River has been getting better as the water recedes, with channel catfish moving to find nests and being very catchable. Fishing for sauger and walleye also picked up a little late in the week.

While rains have diminished and floodwaters are receding, along with the damage they’ve left in their aftermath, mosquitoes are out in hoards, so don’t forget the bug repellant when venturing out this week.

Landing a giant catfish, Turtle Man, and SHANTY BOATS!

OK, folks, I have just found the best You Tube pieces on fishing for river cats (including a GIANT) and catching snapping turtles!! Here they are! First watch the TURTLE MAN catching snappers by hand. Play it through and then you have a choice of several more at the bottom. Try the GIANT CATFISH in film #6. Whew! Finally, if you have a little time, join the “Moron Brothers” in the SHANTY BOAT! A little pickin’ and grinnin’ and fishing! Then check out our weekly fishing updates from Pool 8.  Or read a first hand story of a young man’s shanty boat adventure on the Mississippi River in the 1930s.

Save the Delta Queen – An American Treasure

Ways to help. | Contact talk radio and Presidential candidates

My Goodness, I am a fan of the Delta Queen and all the cruising steamboats.  Enjoy the U-tube video then have a look at the Blog entry below. There’s lots more to the tug of war over the DQ than is commonly known. 

The Delta Queen is equipped with the latest in modern fire monitoring devices and a powerful sprinkler system, and includes 3 onboard crew dedicated to safety monitoring on a 24 hour basis. The steamboat has had an 82 year spotless record of safety on the river, and is popular with tourists who want a one-of-a-kind experience. So why is so-called fire safety being noted to force it out of operation? Read the full story.

Spring Flood Reports ’08

While another 6-14 inches of snow that fell in Wisconsin on Good Friday is likely to be short-lived, melting snowpacks in the north and massive rains (up to a foot in many places) in lower Midwestern states has precipitated a flurry of Flood Reports to www.greatriver.com  Here’s what I heard overnight:

Floodwaters at Poplar Bluff, Missouri (Photo by James Ramsey)

The high-water crest is likely to be April 8  in Baton Rouge. Water levels are not expected to breach any levees. 

A flood warning is currently in effect along the Mississippi River for parts of Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky. The Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau is still expected to crest at 44.5 feet Sunday despite levels being lower than expected north of the region. Flood stage is 32 feet. In Cape Girardeau, crews are racing to close the big steel flood gates that safeguard the town from the rising river.

Widespread flooding in Arkansas has washed out some highways and led to evacuations in some areas, said a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. Heavy winter snow combined with recent rain indicates parts of Wisconsin and Illinois should see minor to moderate flooding, with as much as a 20 to 30 percent chance of major flooding on some rivers in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Some residents of southern Illinois had to evacuate. In Marion, Illinois, firefighters used their own fishing boats to rescue residents. At Paducah, Ky., the flooding on the Ohio River is expected to peak at 47.0 feet by Wednesday morning. The river’s flood stage is 39.0 feet. From historical floods, officials know that property damage begins along the river’s banks when the water rises to 47.0 feet.

A record flood is forecast for the Meramec River near Eureka, Mo., which is located south of St. Louis. By Saturday afternoon, the river is expected to slightly rise past the current record flood level of 42.9 feet from Dec. 6, 1982.

While the recent heavy rain bypassed the lower Mississippi River, residents along its banks are being warned that prolonged flooding will ensue. As water from its tributaries continues to flow downstream, the river will continue to rise.

The Mississippi River at Natchez, Miss., is forecast to exceed its flood stage of 48.0 feet by Tuesday. The river is expected to rise at least 5 more feet by Sunday, April 6. The National Weather Service is reminding people to be aware and be prepared for flooding in their communities. There is no expectation that current flooding will be more than a passing crest… unlike 1993 when the high water settled in and the entire river was closed for two months.

As for travel in these states, I know from our flood experience in Wisconsin that nothing devastates tourism like these flood reports. Yet pictures like the one above are generally tiny pockets in the overall travel picture. Call ahead to double-check. Be aware of your surroundings. NEVER drive onto water covered roadways. But chances are there is no reason at all to cancel travel plans unless you planned to be right in the path of a flood-cresting river.