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


This story is closed to new comments.


Submitted by Sternwheeler owner at: November 10, 2009
I can't imagine the Mississippi, Ohio, and My home The Kanawha rivers without the Delta Queen. I was tied up at the Pomeroy, OH riverfront the last time the majestic DQ paddled down river. The thought of this historically relevant vessel being layed to rest as a floating hotel, upsets me greatly. I hope that the persons responsible for the fate of the DQ can find the: historic, commerce, and personal relevance as moving as I have in my 25 years.

Submitted by Conrad B. at: October 3, 2009
In October 1971 my grand parents, mom, myself, and some other people from our town cruised from St. Paul Minn. to St. Louis Ms. I will never forget this experiance as a 11 year old boy traveling on this magnificent old treasure. I vivedly remember going through the locks and dams along the way and all the people who would come to see the grand lady of the river. We went through Davenport Iowa at night giving a calliope concert of cource and I remember going under one of the bridges while purser Gabe Chengary was playing On Wisconson. The sound of that calliope echoing under that bridge sent chill up my back, it was wonderful. I pray we can get her back in service soon and permanently!

Submitted by Cornan the Iowan at: September 26, 2009
Sad to say, I have yet to get my ride on the Delta Queen. She docked once in my home town when I was there, and in 2000 I happened to cross paths with the Queen while driving my newly purchased power boat from Florida to Texas. For a few lovely minutes I was on the Mississippi with the Queen in New Orleans. I still hope to get that ride some day - somebody please step up and bring this piece of history back to life again. I'd also like to see one of the steel boats built in the 80s and 90s return to service. If I learn one of these boats are back in service I'll find a way to make a cruise.

Submitted by melcha at: September 21, 2009
I have very fond memories of the Delta Queen. The Tooker's lived next door to my grandparents so they were a very important part of my life early on. I loved when they would come back to Cincinnati because we would go down to visit them on the steamboat when they were docked. I loved the music and the grandness of everything that was Delta Queen

Submitted by CBFenton at: September 13, 2009
I remember waking up on a Saturday or Sunday morning in Bellevue, IA to the sound of the Delta Queen steam calliope. Our family would rush to Lock & Dam 13 to catch the candy and coins thrown to the kids assembled by the guests on the boat.These visits from this grand old lady of the river are still vivid in my mind and as I grew older I still enjoyed the view of the Queen on the riverfront in Burlington as I came down the Main Street hill and I enjoyed hearing her steam into and out of port. In the past few years her visits waned as her younger but bigger sisters made the longer trips but there was still always a special feeling in the air when the true Queen of the River came to town. Long live the Delta Queen.

Submitted by Bev at: August 30, 2009
Been on twice the 1st time when it was Dedicated a National Historic Monument there was such fanfare and the Governor of New Orleans gave a speech and the Delugi Fireboat was spraying Red White and Blue water how exciting. I stayed up so late my heart was so happy we also went again had another trip planned but the hurricane hit and we waited we also went on the Grand American Queen which is beautiful and a wonderful trip also was the inugurgal trip but my heart is with the Delta Queen how can they just let it go it is not out in the ocean. Please put it back for all of us who love it so much Thank you

Submitted by Anonymous at: August 21, 2009
She the last of her kind. If we don't stop this how will future generations know what a real steamboat is all about

Submitted by LIN at: August 21, 2009

Submitted by Sandy at: August 16, 2009
My husband and I were delighted to finally have enough time and money together to cruise on the Queen , unfortuneately we found it was her next to last cruise. We were stunned that such an injustice should happen in our America to such a proud and noble boat as the Queen! After living on her for a week, stopping at the small towns along the river which clearly depended on her for income, and watching her long time employees get teary eyed as her dismal future, we were clearly frustrated with what was happening. Much like a miracle, the Chattanooga situation happened, but it is a temporary situation hopefully. We want to be on the Queen again as passengers on the cruise, not at a dock. How embarassed she must be! Please bring her back. Sincerely, a satisfied first time cruiser.

Submitted by Donna at: July 1, 2009
I grew up near the Ohio River outside of Pittsburgh and can remember this boat coming up and down for 35 yrs. It was always very exciting to hear it coming and many people would come out to watch it pass. This paddlewheeler needs to be saved for not only it's beauty but for it's link to this country's past.

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