The American Queen returns to American Rivers

Now here is some REALLY GOOD NEWS!

The largest steamboat in the world was recently purchased by The Great American Steamboat Company  based in Memphis, Tenn., and it will return to America’s rivers next year.

The steamboat, which is 419 feet long and 90 feet high, holds 436 passengers was purchased for $15.5 million. It was launched in 1995 at a cost of over $65 million, but has been laid up in Beaumont, Texas since 2008, after the Majestic America Line decided to discontinue its cruise business.


“Our plans with it are to restore the service and return it back to its historical roots,” Greg Brown, executive vice-president of the Great American Steamboat Company, said.

“For two years we’ve been working on purchasing the American Queen, so this is the product of a couple years worth of work.” Brown said the American Queen will travel the “greatest hits routes” it used to travel, as well as some of the popular routes once traveled by the Mississippi and Delta Queens. He said itinerary for the American Queen will depend on the season, and it will travel the Mississippi River and many of its surrounding tributaries.

“We have it in the plans to get on the Ohio River for the Kentucky Derby season,” Brown said. “I think we’re a couple weeks away from having a firm schedule and brochure.”

Getting the American Queen up and running is expected to create more than 250 jobs, with 160 of those employees working on the steamboat at all times. Before starting out on cruises, Brown said the American Queen will undergo a $5 million renovation project. He said “she’s in very good condition,” but needs a new coat of paint, some machinery work, new dishes and bath towels, among other things.

Hurrah! for the Great American Steamboat Company. Hurrah! for America Rivers. :-)

“Toots,” the original RIVERLORIAN for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company has written a memoir of the last cruise of the American Queen. Click link to visit.

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“Toots” remembers the Delta Queen

“Toots” Maloy, who for some 30+ years was the “face” of the Delta Queen and Mississippi Queen recently sent me her new memoir of her days on the paddlewheelers.


I found it doubly interesting because it was NOT a history of the company, but truly a memoir of her days on the boats, recounted as she made the last river journey of the Delta Queen to its current Tennessee berth.

Toots also serves as our eyes and ears as she gets a last look at the mold-infested shell of the Mississippi Queen. All of us who loved traveling the Delta Queen fleet, who loved traveling with Riverlorians “Toots”,  Bill Wiemuth, and the rest of the crew, will find this a poignant reminder of how much has been lost with the cruising paddlewheelers.

“We haven’t just lost a vessel,” Toots writes, “we lost a way of life. And with just a stroke of a pen it could have been saved.”

Yes, we have Toot’s book available online at our Mississippi River bookstore. Just $7 plus shipping for a limited time. 54 pages, with 8 pages of photos.

Please click on the link below to order instantly online, or phone 888-255-7726.

A Page Out of History

by Riverlorian, Karen “Toots” Maloy

SECURE online Order Form!

As of 2012, the AMERICAN QUEEN will be BACK on American rivers! Click link to see the update.


Word is Out! Overnight Cruise boats returning to the Mississippi

The Spirit of Glacier Bay will be renamed the Spirit of America and sale the Mississippi River, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes... starting in 2011.Starting to hear that two well-known cruise lines are preparing to offer river boat cruises on the Mississippi River next year!

Cruise West is renaming 100-passenger Spirit of Glacier Bay to Spirit of America and starting Mississippi cruises in 2011.

Most Mississippi cruises will go from New Orleans to Memphis or from Memphis to Nashville, with the first cruise being New Orleans to Memphis March 19, 2011. Other introductory cruises are in April and May.

Published fares: $3,499, $3,799, $4,299, and $5,099 per person double occupancy. Discounts may be as high as $600/person.

Cruise West suggests that the Spirit of America may also be found on the East Coast, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Great Lakes. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

Overnight Cruises on the Mississippi?

With Fall Color about to burst on the Upper Mississippi, I often get inquiries about how to find an overnight cruise on the river now that the steamboats are not operating. I just received an email about a two-day cruise from The TWILIGHT, a boat built by Dennis Trone and operating out of Le Claire, Iowa.  Check out their website at www.riverboattwilight.com 

“Please join us for our very affordable, 2 -Day Overnight Mississippi River Cruise! Our 2-Day Cruise is only $329 and includes:
All Meals, Snacks, plus complimentary Coffee, Tea & Lemonade
On-Board Entertainment
Overnight Accommodations at the Riverfront Grand Harbor Resort
Admission to the Iowa’s #1 Tourist attraction:
The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
For more information, got to our website at www.riverboattwilight.com. We look forward to seeing you in 2009 and sharing our Mississippi River experience!”
Carrie & Captain Kevin Stier

The smaller boats, like the Twilight, the JBS, or the Spirit of Peoria on the Illinois River, incorporate hotel stays with shore trips and overnight hotel stays. The passenger still enjoys long lazy days on the river.  The JBS, unfortunately is not operating this summer.

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.””

 

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.