A stunning development in the Delta Queen saga. Much of the obstacles in her preservation and attempts to return her to the river previously derived from the situation that the players working toward those goals were leasing her and did not own her. But not any more! Here’s the press release:


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Feb. 16, 2015) – DQSC, LLC (dba The Delta Queen Steamboat Company) a Delaware limited liability company, Tuesday completed the purchase of the Legendary Steamboat Delta Queen from TAC Cruise, LLC (aka Xanterra Cruise, LLC) a Delaware limited liability company.

The legendary Delta Queen began service as an overnight passenger vessel in 1927, carrying passengers, cargo and automobiles between Sacramento, Calif. and San Francisco, Calif. After a brief period of service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, the vessel was sold as war surplus to Captain Tom Greene, owner of the Greene Line Steamers of Cincinnati, Ohio. From 1946 to 2008, the Delta Queen operated as an overnight cruise vessel along many of the prominent river and waterways running through America’s heartland, including the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Arkansas Rivers. Later on, the vessel operated as a dockside hotel in Chattanooga, Tenn. from 2009 until 2014.

“My partners and I are thrilled to be taking this critical first step toward the preservation and restoration of this important piece of American and river history,” said Cornel Martin, President and CEO of Delta Queen Steamboat Company. “We look forward to the day when the Delta Queen will once again be able to ply America’s waterways and allow passengers to relive the experiences of Mark Twain and his unique cast of river characters from the decks of a true 1927 steamboat.”

The Delta Queen is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is classified as a National Historic Landmark. The steamboat has also recently been designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a National Treasure.

“Our goal is to have the Delta Queen return to cruising America’s waterways in 2016 following extensive mechanical and hotel renovations,” said Martin.

For more information, visit the Delta Queen on Facebook. 


About Delta Queen Steamboat Company

The Delta Queen Steamboat Company was founded in 1890 and originally known as The Greene Line. The company’s name changed in 1974. The company is made up of several long-time supporters of the Delta Queen steamboat. The mission of the company is to preserve, restore and return the legendary Delta Queen to overnight cruise service through the inland rivers of America’s heartland.

Here we are to December (can you believe it?!) with no movement of the Senate Bill 1022 to permit the Delta Queen to return to cruising. Check in on it periodically at the Senate website here:

closedThe shutdown of the U.S. government since October 1 has impacted so many in devastating ways. Also caught in this needless madness is the now halted progress of legislation passed by the House on Sept 25 that could lead to the Delta Queen being permitted to return to cruising America’s rivers. The bill must also pass the Senate when our elected leaders decide to continue the work we the voters hired them to do.

In the meantime, the Delta Queen and its supporters count the days. But even when Congress returns, the backlog of work will be tremendous, the cleanup of this mess will be massive, and the delays to so many projects could be indefinite. Arrrrrgggghhhh!

We attended a gathering aboard the Delta Queen which included an exciting update from Cornell Martin (former Delta Queen Steamboat Company executive working to return the boat to cruising): The Congressional bill that would help open the door to the Delta Queen possibly cruising again is scheduled to be voted on by the House on Wednesday!

This is, of course the first step of many, but it is a step long waited for since the Delta Queen moored in Chattanooga in February 2008 to serve as a dockside hotel.
Former Delta Queen Captains Mike Williams and Gabe Chengary were also in attendance and shared inspiring words and lovely memories. Leah Ann and Randy Ingram shared the excitement. They are the current operators of the Delta Queen Hotel and leaders of the effort to return the vessel to cruising.
Track the Billy’s progress online here:

Here’s a link to an article from The Natchez Democrat:



The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has endorsed a bill which could allow the steamboat “Delta Queen” to return to cruising America’s rivers. This action moves the bill out of committee and to the House for a vote.

Read the full article here:




Cincinnati Enquirer: “The Delta Queen could come back home to Cincinnati. But she has four other serious suitors: Louisville; Sacramento, Calif.; New York’s Manhattan Island; and Chattanooga, Tenn., where the boat currently rests as a floating hotel.”

To read the full article from the Cincinnati Enquirer, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday night (Sept. 11), the New Smyrna Beach council voted 3-2 in favor of pursuing a lease agreement with Wayne Heller which would provide him a space to dock the Delta Queen steamboat if it were relocated to Florida.

Heller still must receive approval from other regulatory entities and finalize the purchase of the vessel.

Stay tuned for more updates on the future of this National Historic Landmark and the last authentic overnight steam-powered paddlewheeler in American history.

Read the full text of the Daytona News-Journal article below.



Wayne Heller is to appear before the New Smyrna Beach council on September 11 to address concerns regarding his proposed purchase and relocation of the historic steamboat Delta Queen.

Many steamboat fans are hopeful that the historica boat will remain safely away from hurricanes and salt water and continue to reside at its current picturesque home in downtown Chattanooga, TN where it is lovingly cared for by Leah Ann and Randy Ingram and open as a hotel, restaurant, lounge, and event facility.

Read more info at the link below:


The City Commission members of New Smyrna Beach, Florida accepting input regarding the potential relocation of the Delta Queen. They meet to further discuss this matter on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

Entrepreneurs Judy and Wayne Heller “have signed a letter of intent with a 30 to 45-day window to buy the 285-foot-long Delta Queen.” (Daytona Beach News Journal: March 28, 2012)

They hope to tow the 84-year-old National Historic Landmark by June 1 (Daytona Beach News Journal: March 27, 2012) to the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida to New Smyrna Beach, located south of Daytona Beach, where it would flank the Heller’s Riverview Hotel. This would remove the vessel from its current home along the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee where it operates as a hotel, restaurant, lounge, special event facility and live entertainment venue. It’s removal would separate the historic vessel from the river system it has cruised since 1947.

“To make the venture a reality, Heller said he needs the city to sell him 5 acres at 120 N. Causeway where he would dock the boat. He would use the land for parking and possibly for a boardwalk.” (Daytona Beach News Journal: March 28, 2012)

Relocating the Delta Queen would require the fragile wooden vessel to endure a long ocean voyage to east Florida where the boat would float in salt water and be at risk of enduring hurricanes.

Additional concerns regarding the relocation arise from the contrast between the Delta Queen’s historical significance and Heller’s historic preservation record. The Orlando Sentinel (July 11, 2011) reported that in Winter Park, Florida “residents rallied to save the historic Casa Feliz home from demolition” after the Hellers “started razing the 1930s house that year to make way for a larger, more-updated home — until they were stopped almost immediately by the city amid protests from preservationists.”

The Casa Feliz mansion eventually was completely relocated. The nonprofit Friends of Casa Feliz was organized and $1.7 million was raised to move and restore the architectural treasure (which has been added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places) so that the land could be cleared to enable the Hellers to build their 27,000-square-foot mansion. (Orlando Sentinel: July 11, 2011)

If you have input you would like to share with city of New Smyrna Beach leaders regarding the plans to relocate the Delta Queen, contact:

City Commission, phone 386-424-2112
210 Sams Ave, New Smyra Beach, FL 32168

Mayor Adam Barringer:  abarringer@cityofnsb.com

Vice Mayor James Hathaway: jhathaway@cityofnsb.com

City Commissioner JS Grasty:  jgrasty@cityofnsb.com

Commissioner Lynne Plaskett: lplaskett@cityofnsb.com

City Commissioner Judy Reiker: jreiker@cityofnsb.com

Read the full articles cited above here:

Innkeeper wants to tow riverboat hotel to New Smyrna Beach
Daytona Beach News Journal (March 27, 2012)

New Smyrna Beach leaders interested in riverboat hotel proposal
Daytona Beach News Journal, March 28, 2012

Mega-mansion emerges where historic Casa Feliz once stood
Orlando Sentinel, July 11, 2011

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