Capt. Tom Greene

Capt. Tom Greene







After the war, the Delta Queen was put up for auction. In December 1946, Cincinnati, Ohio steamboat Captain Tom Green of the Greene Line Steamers became the new owner for $46,250.







DQ boarded up.

DQ boarded up.






By spring of 1947, the Delta Queen was boarded up and was then towed for almost a month for more than 5,000 miles from California through the Panama Canal to the Mississippi River and to New Orleans. The planking was then removed and the engines serviced. In July, the boat proceeded under its own power almost 2,000 miles up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to the Dravo shipyard at Pittsburgh where the boat spent six months undergoing major renovations costing about $750,000. The Delta Queen departed on her debut Ohio River cruise on June 30, 1948.


Delta Queen during Greene Line daysHARD TIMES

Captain Tom Greene had a heart attack onboard the Delta Queen and passed away on July 10, 1950 at the age of 46. His widow Letha Greene was left to run the company. She later wrote, “I stood alone with four steamboats, four children, a broken heart and puzzled mind.” By 1953, the other three boats had been sold to enable continued operation of the Delta Queen. After major repairs were required in 1957, Letha offered the boat for sale in 1958.





DQ Calliope

DQ Calliope







California businessman Richard Simonton became majority shareholder and retained Letha as General Manager and company president. Simonton focused on increasing marketing and public relations to garner media attention. The Delta Queen’s calliope (steam organ) was added and debuted in February 1960. The boat became profitable and the mortgage was retired in October 1960. By 1962, all debts were cleared and by 1964 a profit-sharing plan for employees was even established.



Check back for another post continuing the Delta Queen’s history.



Captain’s Dinner night is always a special evening onboard the Delta Queen with an array of special events and surprises. One of those is a special nighttime calliope concert. After the festive and delicious dinner, guests adjourn to the top deck for a unique calliope concert featuring the “Aurora Effect.” Yes, this callipe concert features colored steam! No one really knows how this magical phenomenon is accomplished. Some have theorized that the Chief Engineer adds jello mix into the boilers. Others believe that the steam simply cascades off the Aurora Borealis which is otherwise difficult to see at this latitude. Whatever the answer, the effect is hypnotic and always a hit with the guests before they return to the showroom for the evening performance.

For your viewing pleasure, here is a short clip of the Aurora Effect with Rosalynda de Leon on the calliope:

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