Save the Delta Queen campaign

Some of these excellent media features have presented an air of finality about the Delta Queen’s fate. Don’t let the drama of the boat’s forced retirement next Saturday make you give up hope. Even after the exemption expires on November 1, a renewal by the “Lame Duck” pro forma session of Congress returning after the election, or even by the newly seated Congress in January can open the door for a new owner to market a late-starting 2009 season, or at the very least make plans for a 2010 season.

Without an exemption renewal the Delta Queen will not have a next season.

Congress is focused on developing solutions to the economic crisis. This gives a perfect opening to remind them that the Delta Queen is not asking Congress for any funding, just permission to operate. The Delta Queen directly employs about 150 crew members AND the boat benefits the local economies of dozens of river communities with tours and shopping.

Contact your Congressional representatives
Call, write, email, fax, go visit the local offices of your Congressional representatives. Fight for the Delta Queen!

Contact your local media.
As a news story or feature gains energy, many other media outlets get interested that previously might not have been. This is a great time for you to contact your local media and encourage them to do a feature. If you’ve traveled with us before, you can provide the local connection to a national story. Remember, there is no media outlet too small. Every cable show, local paper, small magazine, etc. has an audience that they reach. Every audience has Congressional representatives. They will all be needed to get this job done.


In the last week the Delta Queen has been covered by USA Today (CLICK HERE TO READ IT) and the New York Times (CLICK HERE TO READ IT) . Both in a week are more that we could dream of…but there is more still…

Early Saturday morning, many of the crew were gathered around the television in the crew mess to watch Good Morning America Weekend. The ABC crew was onboard about a month ago filming for this piece and talented producer Glen Dacy kindly updated us that it was scheduled to air. Sure enough, they did a wonderful piece about the Delta Queen, focused mostly on her history and significance. The photography, shot by cameraman Pete, was absolutely beautiful. He really caught her charming character. If you haven’t seen it yet, click on the link below and click on the “Delta Queen Dethroned” featured video icon.

Special thanks to reporter Chris Bury and producer Glen Dacy, along with cameraman Pete and Jeff on audio. Terrific job guys!

We are hopeful that the story will provoke viewers to search for more information about the Delta Queen’s forced retirement and get involved in contacting their Congressional representatives to encourage renewing the necessary exemption to allow the Delta Queen’s continued operation.

CNN Headline News
I also had a phone interview Saturday morning with Linda Stouffer on CNN’s Headline News. I have already heard that the short piece was repeatedly aired on Saturday. More great news! A friend emailed me a link to the story posted online:

It’s this kind of media coverage that will give the Delta Queen a chance when Congress reconvenes after the election. Increased awareness and support translate into political energy.

Yes, it’s been exciting in the last week to see the boat covered by USA Today, the New York Times, CNN, and ABC’s Good Morning America. These reach a lot of people. But I must say how very grateful for the support and coverage provided by regional and local media that have frequently visited the boat recently. As the vessel Public Relations contact, I have been very busy meeting with reporters, escorting photographers and cameramen, and giving phone interviews. Today, I didn’t even get off the boat waiting to visit with a reporter and later a photographer from Evansville, IN.

Let’s hope this exposure helps increase the awareness of Congressional representatives and boosts the efforts to Save the Delta Queen.


Tune in on Saturday, October 25 to see a feature about the Delta Queen on your ABC station’s broadcast of Good Morning America Weekend. The producer has asked me to remind you that if it gets bumped from the Saturday show by another news story, that it should then run on Sunday. Tell all your friends!

Well, today the Delta Queen departed on her final cruise. The boat will run from Cincinnati down to Memphis ending on October 31.

We enjoyed a wonderful Tribute Event for Cincinnati before we departed with a parade of VIPs and almost 400 supporters and fans along the landing.

Bill Wiemuth, Congressman Steve Chabot, and Vicki Webster visit at the base of the Grand Staircase.

Bill Wiemuth, Congressman Steve Chabot, and Vicki Webster visit at the base of the Grand Staircase.

Congressman Steve Chabot attended and gave very encouraging remarks about the possibility of still securing the exemption extension necessary to allow the Delta Queen’s continued operation. We are so thankful for his introduction of H.R. 3852 almost a year ago. He has fought tirelessly in support of the Delta Queen, despite the continued blockage by Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar.

Also attending was Cincinnati resident Vicki Webster who has tirelessly served as the point person for the grassroots Save The Delta Queen campaign efforts to secure the exemption renewal.

A Senate Bill (3498) also was introduced over a month ago by Ohio Senator George Voinovich. We were honored to have a proclamation presented by Nan Cayhall from his office. Senator Sherrod Brown co-sponsored of the bill and another proclamation was kindly delivered by his representative Kristin Marie Vennekotter.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory also attended and presented Captain John Dugger with a key to the city. But the presentation was delivered with a bit of creativity. Enjoy…

Tom Greene Jr., Jane Greene, and Gordon Greene Jr.

Tom Greene Jr., Jane Greene, and Gordon Greene Jr.

At the end of Word War II, Captain Tom Greene of Cincinnati’s Greene Line of Steamers purchased the Delta Queen at auction and had it towed more than 5,000 miles from California to the Mississippi River. He invested another $750,000 to prepare the Delta Queen for another life on the Ohio and Mississippi River system. After Captain Tom passed away in 1950, his widow Letha Greene managed the company and the Delta Queen for the next 19 years. We were honored to have with us today three of Letha and Captain Tom’s children with us today. Tom Jr., Jane, and Gordon Jr. spent much of their youth onboard the Delta Queen. It was very special to have them with us.

The crowd on shore was very enthusiastic and brought many signs and posters:

They still keep the faith that the boat may return again.

Captain Gabe Chengery was Master of the Delta Queen for most of 30 years. Now retired, he is traveling aboard this historic cruise as a passenger. But we were able to convince him to share his keyboard talents with us and honored to have him play the final departure calliope concert as the boat turned downstream. He kept the music going under the Roebling Bridge and on downstream until the Public Landing faded behind the bend in the river.

The sun shone brightly in many moist eyes as the Delta Queen rounded the bend into the pages of history. Farewell fair Cincinnati until we meet again.


There is something very peaceful and wonderful about traveling on the river. As the Delta Queen enters into what may be her final days, I am savoring these moments with the intensity of a man crawling across the desert as he takes the last drop of water from his canteen.

This “peace like a river” is a phenomenon many have noted:

In Captain Fred Way’s wonderful 1951 book “The Saga of the Delta Queen” he noted that the Delta Queen 

“disconnected herself from civilization every time her gangplanks were hauled in and went away into a dream river world of her own making. There were no telephone connections, no radio…”

In this election season, I am so very grateful to be aboard a boat without televisions or radio!

Letha Greene, president of the Greene Line Steamers and owner of the Delta Queen for 19 years, wrote in her 1973 book “Long Live the Delta Queen”:

“…a river cruise should help one to sift values and allow them to fall into proper perspective. A week of more on the river is great therapy for both body and mind.” 

Even ol’ Mark Twain beautifully captured this in his 1883 “Life on the Mississippi”:

“And then you have the shining river, winding here and there and yonder…it is all as tranquil and reposeful as dreamland, and has nothing this-worldly about it – nothing to hang a fret or a worry upon.”

In the coming days I will try to share with you some of my favorite passages about the river and riding on a steamboat. It is a precious experience that is about to fade into American history. I am so thankful to be here to enjoy it.


We have completed a Five-Minute Tour of the Delta Queen’s Safety Equipment and Training
which provides effective Prevention, Detection, Suppression, and Evacuation. 


Please share this link with your Congressional Representatives so when a bill eventually comes to a vote, they will already be aware of the issues and comfortable with endorsing the boat’s safety.


Mayor Riffle and Captain Thoeny

Mayor Riffle and Captain Thoeny

The poignant, beautiful, heartbreaking days continue. Today we said farewell to Point Pleasant, WV as about 300 lined the banks to say their goodbyes. Mayor Riffle made some very nice remarks and Delta Queen Captain Paul Thoeny presented the city with a lovely plaque.

Local costumed historical characters fired black powder musket salutes and the towboat “Fred Way” docked alongside. Fred Way was the Delta Queen’s first pilot after she came around from California in 1947. It was a touching gesture. They even escorted us several miles downriver. What a terrific tribute by the city and local citizens. Many passengers and crew were deeply moved.

We continue to hope that the DQ will visit Point Pleasant again someday.


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