Saturday, August 9th, 2008

To keep you apprised of what’s happening with the Delta Queen, I will post links to various media coverage as I come across them. Watch for them in posts or check the “Media Coverage” category to the side for the collection.

Please, if you come across an article or feature, please send me a link or post it in your comments and I’ll add it to the collection.

Here’s a link [CLICK HERE] to a National Public Radio piece done out of the NPR Mid South branch in Memphis a while back. Candice was a delight and the piece turned out terrific.

Have a great day.


This was a great week to finally get this blog up and rolling. I am glad to have a forum to share with you some of the special memories that are being made onboard.


In Pittsburgh last Saturday (August 2), we had a special visit from Captain Gabe Chengery and his lovely wife Cindy.


Captain Gabe served as the Captain of the Delta Queen for about 30 years before retiring. Cindy is a dynamite singer and they met on the Missisippi Queen when she was aboard as a performer.


It was such a treat to see them. For so many crew and repeat passengers, they brought back a lot of wonderful steamboating memories. Cindy was even sweet enough to agree to join cruise director Bob Schad during a musical set in the Texas Lounge and they did a rollicking medley of “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey,” overlaid with “New Orleans” (Let’s fly down, or drive down, to New Orleans…). She still knows how to wow a crowd!


Captain Gabe was very nostalgic, visiting the boat in what (heaven-forbid) could be her final season. Another of his steamboat passions is the steam and iron organ commonly known as the Calliope. He even has a historic calliope off the steamer Avalon (now the Belle of Louisville) which is currently functioning in his back yard, powered by a leaf blower! I have had the great pleasure of playing that treasured instrument when I visited them last year. We were able to persuade him (it wasn’t hard) to give a performance on the Delta Queen calliope. Here’s a little video snippet I took:



I interviewed Captain Chengery last year about the threat of the boat being retired and he had some very powerful words to share which I included in my most recent CD recording in my River History Series (available at HERE) which I titled “The Life and Times of the Delta Queen.”

Life and Times of the Delta Queen audio CD

Life and Times of the Delta Queen audio CD

Here are a couple of snippets from that recording quoting the passionate feelings Captain Gabe shared with me:


Captain Gabe on the Delta Queen’s significance 


A beautiful understanding of the Delta Queen’s significance from Captain Gabe:


More from Captain Gabe


We send Captain Gabe and Cindy all our best and look forward to seeing them again soon. Here’s a big Delta Queen Steam Whistle Salute for them:


Delta Queen whistle salute 




Yesterday was a Steamboatin’ day with no stops as we cruised down the lower Ohio. We passed Louisville, KY around breakfast time and as we head down that lovely, winding stretch of river below, through those gentle rolling hillsides and stunning limestone rock cliffs, our onboard internet is very slow! The day was unusually cool and pleasant for August, and everybody was plopped in a rocking chair watching the little Norman Rockwell towns drift past.


Vicki Webster

Vicki Webster

In the previous post I briefly mentioned Vicki Webster and her efforts to Save the Delta Queen. Vicki is heading up a completely volunteer grass-roots effort to generate publicity about the boat’s plight and garner public and Congressional support for legislation to allow her to continue operating.



 I had an opportunity to ask Vicki about her involvement. Here are her remarks:




In the audio clip above, Vicki credits Betty Blake as her inspiration and motivator. Betty Blake was Public Relations expert employed by the Delta Queen’s 1970 owners. Back in 1970, the Delta Queen faced a scenario very similar to her current battle. A powerful Congressman and committee chairman (substitute 1970’s Ed Garmatz of Maryland in place of today’s James Oberstar of Maryland) set out to block the renewal necessary legislation to allow continued operation of the Delta Queen. The company’s president, Bill Muster, and Betty Blake held a series of rally events along the river, circulated petitions, involved the media and lobbied members of Congress. In December of 1970 (after the boat was forced out of service in November) legislation was dramatically passed to enable the boat to continue operations the following spring.


Vicki also gave me a little background on how she also became involved in the 1970 campaign.


How Vicki Got Involved

 Here’s a steam whistle salute to Vicki for her tremendous efforts and leadership.

Delta Queen Whistle Salute