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:

We are so excited to announce that we will be performing aboard the Delta Queen in Chattanooga, TN the first and last weekends of October — on October 1, 2, and again Octtober 28, 29, 30, and 31. We’ll be performing each evening in the charming and historic Texas Lounge with incredible views of the Tennessee River and picturesque Chattanooga. We would love for you to come visit, stay aboard, and enjoy some music, magic and laughs with us for a fun weekend. Visit the Delta Queen Hotel website at

www.DeltaQueenHotel.com

Ambassadors International, Inc., the parent company owner of the Delta Queen, has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At least for the foreseen future, this will not affect the charter lease operation of the Delta Queen Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. With her long-term future uncertain, I encourage you to experience the Delta Queen while you can. Visit www.DeltaQueenHotel.com for more information and reservations.

To read more about the bankruptcy, click here.

Only one more remaining visit to Pittsburgh…

Pulling away from our landing near the ballpark at the mouth of the Allegheny River.

Pulling away from our landing near the ballpark at the mouth of the Allegheny River.

Looking back at downtown Pittsburgh and the point where the Allegheny River (coming in from the left) joins the Monongahela River (coming in from the right) to form the Ohio River.

Looking back at downtown Pittsburgh and the point where the Allegheny River (coming in from the left) joins the Monongahela River (coming in from the right) to form the Ohio River.

We are departing on a 10-day cruise down the Ohio River for more than 900 miles and then up the picturesque Cumberland River for another 191 miles to Nashville, Tennessee.
–END–
Yvette and Jim Wenzel

Yvette and Jim Wenzel

Occasionally onboard the Delta Queen, we have cruise guests who must use a magical spell to squeeze historical costumes into their luggage. Visiting from Oregon, Yvette and Jim Wenzel sure made a stir in the dining room when they paraded to their table. Yvette was decked out in a gorgeous burgundy hoop skirt dress that she even designed. Jim was duded up in striped pants, a frock coat, vest, string tie, and straw gambler’s hat. Folks like the Wenzels sure do add a splash of flair onboard the Delta Queen and their fashions certainly contribute to the festive air of keeping history alive from aboard an authentic steam-powered paddlewheeler.

–END–

 

 

Here’s a link to a very nice article from the Vicksburg Post. CLICK HERE.

–END–

The Delta Queen was put up for auction in 1946 after having served 13 years on the Sacramento River and another six years for the U.S. Navy in San Francisco bay. Captain Tom Greene from Cincinnati, Ohio was a steamboat captain and owner of the Greene Line of Steamers. He placed the only bid for the Delta Queen and became her new owner for $46,250. The boat then had to be relocated from California to the Ohio River where its renovations and repairs would cost more than $750,000. The Delta Queen began a new career in June 1948 and she owes her last 60 years to Tom Greene’s vision and commitment.

Bill Wiemuth and Jane Greene

Bill Wiemuth and Jane Greene

We have been fortunate the last couple of days to have Jane Greene on board the Delta Queen. Jane is a daughter of Captain Tom Greene, one of his four children. She came aboard to share some of her memories of the Delta Queen’s Greene Line days. Her stories are amazing.

For almost 20 years of her youth, Jane spent her summers aboard the Delta Queen. Her grandmother, the famous Captain Mary Greene passed away on board the Delta Queen. Her father also had his fatal heart attack onboard the Delta Queen at age of 46. Jane was onboard that trip. Her extraordinary mother, Letha, went on to run the family business for the next 19 years.

Jane’s memories of life onboard the Delta Queen sometimes are poignantly personal and painful. They often are insightful and hilarious. They always are entertaining.

I asked Jane to share a few thoughts to pass along to you, Faithful Reader. Enjoy.

Jane’s remarks about why she loves the boat so much and her family’s history with the Delta Queen:

Jane’s interesting theory on why her father gambled so much to give the Delta Queen another life:

Jane’s remarks about her father’s efforts to relocate the Delta Queen from California to the Ohio River:

Here’s a steam whistle salute to Jane Greene! Click Here for Whistle Salute

–END–

At each port the Delta Queen calls on during her 2008 season, a “Tribute Event” will be conducted to thank the city and citizens for their years of hospitality. There’s usually one scheduled each cruise so the onboard guests get a chance to enjoy the festivities.

It has been a joy to welcome the mayors and other city representatives from communities along the river to come aboard the vessel for a tour and an event ceremony. We set up a public address system on the Texas Deck bow so area citizens can gather along the waterfront and enjoy the proceedings.

The event includes the presentation of a plaque by the Delta Queen’s Captain to the mayor or city representative. The city reps usually also have a proclamation, plaque, key to the city, etc. The Delta Queen band, Riverboat Rhythm, plays some music and our onboard entertainers sing. In between songs, I share with the crowd snippets of history about the Delta Queen. I wrap up with an update on the Delta Queen’s struggle to continue service and encourage the crowd to contact their House and Senate representatives to encourage their support. We conclude with a calliope concert as the boat departs.

Captain Larry Wilkinson, Dover Mayor Lesa Fitzhugh, and Bill Wiemuth

Captain Larry Wilkinson, Dover Mayor Lesa Fitzhugh, and Bill Wiemuth

Today we conducted the event for Dover, Tennessee. Dover’s Mayor Lesa Fitzhugh was a delight. I had a great time touring her and several other city representatives around the boat. They were truly fascinated with the Delta Queen and had lots of good questions. Not only did the Mayor present a proclamation on behalf of the city, but we also received a proclamation from the county and another from the Chamber of Commerce. We are so thankful for such kind hospitality and such wonderful warm wishes and enthusiasm.

Here is a special steam whistle salute to Mayor Fitzhugh and the citizens of Dover, Tennessee. Click Here for Whistle-Salute

–END–

Here is some recent information about the potential sale of the Delta Queen:

Business First of Louisville, Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Delta Queen attracting bidders on sale block, by Dan Monk Senior Staff Reporter

–END–

When the Delta Queen’s exemption came up for renewal in 1970, Maryland Congressman Ed Garmatz, Chairman of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Commission, effectively blocked more than two dozen bills submitted to save the Delta Queen. Company president Bill Muster and Betty Blake conducted Save the Delta Queen rallies at towns along the rivers gathering petition signatures and encouraging letters to representatives. Despite the efforts of the company, previous guests and steamboat fans, Congressional efforts were stymied. The Delta Queen departed St. Paul on October 21 for a “Farewell Forever” cruise down the length of the Mississippi to New Orleans before the mandatory November 1 end date. All along the river, crowds gathered with signs of support for a last chance to see the boat. More than a month later, the exemption extension for the Delta Queen was successfully passed as an amendment to a bill sent not through Congressman Garmatz’s committee, but instead through the judiciary committee. Somehow the Delta Queen had been saved yet again. Multiple exemptions have been granted to the Delta Queen over the last 42 years.

The Marietta (Ohio) Register recently ran a great article comparing the 1970 situation to the current struggle to extend the Delta Queen’s exemption.

The Marietta Register, Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Delta Queen: The Ghosts of Garmatz, by Tom Lotshaw

–END–