Delta Queen Steamboat

, Tennessee

Built in 1927, the Delta Queen is America's last remaining overnight paddle-wheeled steamboat still operating on the inland waterways.  She is a designated National Historic Landmark and has a storied past, including steamer passage on the Sacramento River and service as troop barracks during World War II.  Her interior features Tiffany-style stained glass, hardwood paneling, brass fittings, and a grand staircase crowned by a crystal chandelier.  Since 1948 the Delta Queen has plied the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, with festive stops at communities along the way.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation has offered tours aboard Delta Queen for many years.

Because of her wooden superstructure, the Delta Queen has operated under a statutory exemption from the Safety of Life at Sea Act since the late 1960s, and extensive safety precautions had been implemented by her owners.  The exemption had been granted nine times previously, but it expired in November 2008, limiting the number of overnight passengers the Delta Queen can carry to 50, rather than her capacity of 176. 

On February 11th, the Delta Queen arrived in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to begin service as a floating hotel.  This is good news for the boat, keeping her maintained and open to the public, but is only a temporary solution.  The Delta Queen's significance rests on her service as an operating vessel, plying America's inland waterways as she has since 1927.  For more information, visit:

The legendary Delta Queen, whose distinctions include a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, is no longer taking travelers down the mighty Mississippi. From its late 19th-century steam calliope to its grand staircase, this 80 year old grande dame has delighted the generations that have graced her decks. National Trust for Historic Preservation Tours has a long history with this famous steamboat. The very first tour offered to  National  Trust members was aboard this illustrious paddlewheeler almost 40 years ago.    

We encourage you to share your memories of the Delta Queen.  Whether you joined us on a National Trust Study Tour, or planned your own trip on this majestic steamboat, we'd like to hear your stories of traveling down the mighty Mississippi.

Tell Us About Your Experiences on the Delta Queen


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Submitted by Cynthia Beischel at: March 17, 2009
Unfortunately, I never had the privilege of taking a long cruise down the Mississippi or the Ohio Rivers on the Delta Queen; however, I was fortunate enough to have two very special occasions on the boat during the 1970s. While teaching, I was able to arrange a field trip for my students during one of the times the Delta Queen was docked at the Cincinnati landing. The Captain gave us a very special tour that included seeing the small, cozy staterooms; the huge red paddle wheel (with nearby boxes filled with mint plants which provide sprigs for drink garnishes); the engine room with its own unique sounds and smell of steam and oil, as well as large metal "arms" that made the paddle wheel work and shiny brass dial cases; the calliope with its extraordinary festive sound which came out of golden whistles (which we learned were kept shiny by the steam that comes out of them); the high pilot's room filled with more instruments which indicate such things as the depth of the water and whether the wheel is turning; the gilded antler trophy out on the narrow bridge walkway; and the comfortable Texas deck lounge. My second adventure was a dinner cruise which included a two hour trip on the Ohio River. Sitting back, relaxing and observing the activity of towns along the banks was pure enjoyment. Although our time on board was short by comparison to a full trip, the experience lasted long enough to reinforce my love for and appreciation of the importance of the Delta Queen -- so much so that I devoted a whole chapter in my children's book, "Discover The Past", to this wonderful steamboat. (For those who might be interested, the book is available by calling the Cincinnati Museum Gift Shop at 513-287-7034.) My great hope and desire is to see the Delta Queen plying the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers once again and booking myself on board!

Submitted by Emilie at: March 17, 2009
My experience on the Delta Queen reiterated --the importance of Saving the Queen. Bring her back to travel up & down the river -sharing her story, as she has done safely for so many years!

Submitted by bubbles at: March 17, 2009
Great opportunity to learn & experience a part of American history. A grand vessel which, as my visit, could be compared to a stately mansion or a unique restored museum --Delta Queen has proudly & safely made voyages enticing passengers as well as those viewing from the river banks. I had looked forward to my trip for quite a while. Excellent staff --music, delicious food. Delta Queen reminds guests of its rich background and encourages them to be reminded of the importance of preservation. Listening to the caliope & have lunch in the beautiful old dining area was thrilling. Opportunities such as a trip or lunch on the DQ are be be remembered for a lifetime.

Submitted by woody & Janice at: March 17, 2009
We have made 26 trips on the DQ. This all started as a vacation for our 25th wedding celebration. We fell in love with this glorious lady of the river. Traveling the many river towns of our wonderful country. when you travel on this vessel it is like stepping back in time to the 1920's (no TV, Radio or electricial gadets to distract you from this great travel experience). I will visit her as a hotel but cannot wait until she is back on the river traveling the Mississippi waterways.

Submitted by Jim Whetzel at: March 17, 2009
Wow. I cry just thinking about this magnificent boat not cruising up and down our beautiful rivers. How can our government allow this to happen? This is senseless. My wife and I have taken many, many cruses on the Delta Queen and my parents have taken well over forty full length week long and two week long cruises on the Delta Queen. I am forty years old. My parents started cruising on the Delta Queen when I was in my late teens. After I was married, my wife and I started chasing the Delta Queen up and down the rivers taking pictures while my parents were cruising on her. We would be on bridges on banks waving at the passengers and my parents when they saw us. We have drove and flown thousands of miles chasing the Delta Queen and had great fun doing it. One day my parents told us that they were paying for us to go with them on the Delta Queen from Pittsburgh PA. to Cincinnati, OH. We also went up the Kanawha River to Charleston, WV. Wow, I cannot even think of the words to express how great that cruises was. I hardly left the top deck. We did not sleep much because we did not want to miss any of the river. We were finally cruising on the Delta Queen Steamboat. The boat we had spent so many days chasing. A boat that I had read about in the history books when I was in elementary school. I have to tell you. I have worked for the airlines for twenty-one years. My wife and I can fly anywhere in the world for very little cost and have, but we have never had a better vacation on any ocean liner or anywhere that we have traveled. Than we have had on every cruise that we have taken on the Delta Queen. There is nothing and I mean nothing like being on the magnificent majestic Delta Queen Steamboat. When you know the history of this boat. Knowing that you are cruising on a boat that you have read about in the history books. Cruising on the great Mississippi River or the beautiful Ohio River and so many other beautiful rivers here in our great country that the Delta Queen travels on. To see and feel what it was like to travel so many years ago as our aunt sisters use to when the rivers were filled with steamboats. Sure you can take a modern boat, but trust me. There is nothing like being on the Delta Queen. What a way to see our country. Its a way that everyone should get to see. Looking at this beautiful country from the river on a historic steamboat is so much nicer than any other way. Those of you that have cruised on the Delta Queen before know what I am talking about. Those of you who haven't cruised on the Delta Queen I hope you get the chance. I like to sit outside up front in the springtime, summer or fall and feel the warm breeze as we move along between seven and twelve miles per hour listening to faint sounds of the paddle wheel from behind. The water on the river is as smooth as glass and the Delta Queen is so quiet its like you are gliding across the water. Its incredible and the wildlife that you see "wow." I especially like watching the sunset over the river. I just hope our kids and there kids will be able to see and feel what we have seen and felt by cruising on the Delta Queen Steamboat. There is no other floating historic land mark that you can do this on. While we are stopped at all of the little river towns that have been bypassed by interstate highways. I talk to the people. They tell me how important it is for their town to have the Delta Queen stop in. The store owners come out. They shuttle people back and forth to there businesses for free. The town government officials come out to greet the passengers on the Delta Queen. They give free tours of the towns and let people off where ever they want to shop. A lot of these little towns are just hanging in there by a thread economically. They need the Delta Queen and all of the passengers and crew she brings when she comes to their town. A lot of these small towns have added boat landings, stairs, wheel chair accessible ramps just to accommodate and to attract the Delta Queen to come to there towns. "Please everyone." We cannot sit here and let this happen to the Delta Queen. She has a remarkable safety record. She is never far from land. She is never over crowded like the boats were in the olden days. She has a fully functional fire suppression system and a superbly trained crew which I might add, many of the crew members have devoted their life to working and taking care of this boat. We have gotten to know so many of them over the years. We have never felt safer on any mode of transportation and I think we have been on them all. Whom ever is reading this. If you have the power to keep the Delta Queen Steamboat cruising on our great rivers as she has done for so many years. Please, Please do something. The Delta Queen needs you. The crew of the Delta Queen needs you. The people in hundreds of river towns need you and we need you, thousands of other citizens past, present, and future of the United States of America. Thank you for anything you can do. Sincerely Jim and Beth Whetzel and parents Irvin and Naomi Whetzel

Submitted by Tom at: March 17, 2009
When I was 10 years old my grandmother took me on a week-long cruise on the Delta Queen from Cincinnati to the Tennessee River. It was an experience I have never forgotten, and it sparked a keen life-long interest in me for U.S. history, and particularly the history of the Western rivers and steamboats. What a terrible shame other kids can't have this experience because the DQ must be beached due a misguided law that does not apply to her since she is not a sea-going vessel. Save the Delta Queen!

Submitted by Robert, Seattle WA at: March 17, 2009
I want to travel aboard Delta Queen. I've spent my life working to support DC lords/ladies, and they throw my money away on Iraq and AIG? Congresscreatures, lift one finger and vote another exemption, how hard is that? Doesn't even cost taxpayer dollars, produces jobs and citizen gratitude. Or don't "my" esteemed representatives care about such?

Submitted by Judy at: March 16, 2009
I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio & saw & heard the De;ta Queen steaming up & down the river. It was 40 years before I got to take a cruise on her, for my 60th birthday. It was like stepping back in time. The most wonderful, peacful, glorious way to travel! To see America from her rivers is something everyone should have a chance to experience. The economy of river cities is greatly helped by the Delta Queen & I pray that she will be allowed to once again travel the waterways instead of being tethered to a bank somewhere. She is a safe vessel & generations to come deserve the priviledge of travelling on her. I hope to do so again one day.

Submitted by geri at: March 16, 2009
I have never been on the Delta Queen. But the Belle of Louisville raced the Delta Queen for many years for the Kentucky Derby Festival. The Delta Queen is a very grand and majestic steamboat. I hope she can be saved.

Submitted by Bill at: March 16, 2009
My wife and i have had two cruise on the Delta Queen and look upon them as the most interesting of all our cruises It keeps all the money in the USA and offers the chance to see America as it truely is. It helps support the river twnes and gives grest look in to Anerican history. Please put the Delta Queen back in srevice.

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