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 paulandpaula at: April 24, 2009
We rode the Delta Queen from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati last May and it was a charming and delightful experience. This beautiful "Grand Dame of the Rivers" is far too young to be retired and we add our voices to those who request that Congress grant her new life. She is an American treasure and a national icon whose heritage is worthy of preservation. Long live her proud history. "God Save The Queen"

Submitted by Heidi Swank at: April 23, 2009
I never rode on the Delta Queen, but it figures prominently in my childhood growing up on a bluff in Wisconsin that overlooked the Mississippi. In my neighborhood outside the small town of Prescott, Wisconsin, the sight of the Delta Queen the river below always set off a series of phone calls to neighbors. Everyone would run outside into their yard, and the children would wave and yell out to the Delta Queen whose riders could never have heard us. One year the Delta Queen actually stopped in Prescott. My mother and the mother of the neighbor family, piled all nine of us kids into their cars and drove into town so we could finally see the boat up close. I have memories of some kind of music coming out of the boat, but I was quite small then so the memory is a little unclear. Whenever I hear about or see a picture of the Delta Queen, I am instantly transported back to my childhood on the bluff, the warm air of the summer and my family around me.

Submitted by Anonymous at: April 15, 2009
Save the Delta Queen!!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by Barbara's Daughter at: April 14, 2009
My parents loved the Delta Queen and enjoyed 57 trips together on that boat. They always wanted to share the experience with their children, but unfortunately we were always too busy with our jobs and own families to take the time to vacation with them on the Delta Queen. My father died of cancer on October 13, 2005. I missed my opportunity to share his favorite vacation with him. However, my husband and I stopped everything to travel with my mother on what may have been the final voyage October 21 through 31, 2008 from Cincinnati to Memphis. It was wonderful! We relaxed as the paddle wheel propelled us down the water ways that carried our pioneer ancestors across America. We stopped in small American towns and spent our money in the small shops on their Main Streets. We lived on the boat and went through the safety drills. I am confident that while on the Delta Queen, I was in significantly less danger of fire that I will be when I sleep in my own bed, in my own house, tonight. I am glad that the boat is being cared for as it is docked in Chattanooga, but really a floating hotel is not the best use of this treasure. The cabin that I stayed in as a passenger was too small to make a comfortable hotel room, but that was all part of the fun. I did not mind that the room was small as long as I could just open the door to see the spectular sunrises and sunsets along with the glores of the American riverscape that slid past.

Submitted by milou at: April 12, 2009
I have read stories on the Delta Queen all my life and always dream of taking a trip on it. We were planning to on our 45th anniversary next year. Please save it.

Submitted by HRCKathleen at: April 11, 2009
I was introduced to the Delta Queen in 1983, when I was 12 years old, as she went through Lock & Dam #8 in Genoa, WI and fell in love with her. My family had an out-of-state guest visiting and were showing her the sights of Southwestern WI. By some crazy chance as we headed to show her the lock and dam system on the Upper Mississippi River, she was headed north to the lock as well. We talked to the guests out on the decks and I watched the crew, and then watched the majestic steamboat depart the lock, playing the lively calliope music. My dream from that day on was to ride that steamboat from the mouth of the Mighty Mississippi River to the Delta in Louisiana. Fast forward to 1998, I was 27 years old, in search of a new job as state budget cuts was about to eliminate my position. I was single, footloose and fancy-free and decided that I wanted a job where I could travel. I applied to some airlines and then ran across the Delta Queen Steamboat Company Website and proceeded to apply online. It took a few months and several telephone conversations with my recruiter and I was placed onboard the Mississippi Queen as a cocktail server. Due to my education and prior work experience, I was promoted quickly into the Purser's Office and then finally the onboard Human Resources Coordinator. I was in a relief position where I filled in for the full-time MQ HRC and the full-time DQ HRC. My first cruise onboard the Delta Queen started in Memphis on October 1, 1999. From 1998 - 2008, I was involved with the vessels. I worked onboard 1998 - 2004. I took time away in 2005 - 2006, but visited the vessel as much as I could, helping the managers run errands while in town and visiting with my steamboating family. I was hired to be part of the Office Human Resources/Recruiting team and had the opportunity to hire crew for the vessels for the 2007 - 2008 seasons. In October 2008, I last saw the Delta Queen in Cape Girardeau, MO. It was a bittersweet visit, spending time with my "family" and my "home". It was heartbreaking to listen to that final departure whistle and calliope concert. It felt like I was losing a very dear friend. I pray that I will have the opportunity to ride on her again. I want to be able to share her with my daughter, who is too young to understand the treasure "my boat" is.... She has had the opportunity to be onboard and I have seen her thrive there, visiting with the guests and her "aunts and uncles". She has never had the opportunity to ride on the Delta Queen yet. But I keep hoping that one day she will. Please, whatever can be done to save "my boat", "our boat" so that she can continue to ply our beautiful heartland, needs to be done. There are many families wanting to share this piece of Americana with their next generation and the generations to come.

Submitted by Don Clare Rabbit Hash at: April 10, 2009
Many years ago, my wife and I warned our two daughters that we were planning on spending all of their inheritance on Delta Queen trips....before retirement and before we were too old to enjoy them. They quickly realized that we were not kidding, and began to go on the trips with us, so as to recoup some of their just rewards. There is nothing better than gathering all of your loved ones together on the Deelta Queen and travelling the Ohio River, just as our forefathers did. Two days after 9-11, we boarded the Delta Queen in Cincinnati for a five-day trip. I was packing my bags at home as I watched ,in total disbelief ,the World Trade Center take the brunt of two separate commercial airplanes purposely flown into it's Twin Towers. Stunned, confused, anxious, angry, scared; how do we cope with this vicious insult to our freedom, our country, our very lives and existence? Our entire family somberly embarked upon the most emotionally cleansing and healing experience of our collective lives! This trip into the past assured us that our people and our country would overcome the present and survive the future, just as Americans have always done. Now, our current misguided Congress and Administration have seen fit to take my retirement savings and investments from me to "bail out" greedy corporate America. Billions upon billions of taxpayer money has been squandered on insurance companies and the transportation industry, in the form of the Big Three automobile manufacturers.. Did this same Congress see fit to bail out one of our iconic transportation industries, the steam powered, paddlewheeled packet boat.....which would have cost the taxpayer NOT ONE RED CENT ? NO! This country's history and cultural heritage are not important to Congress. All they care about are our 'dead presidents'.....the ones on our currency and in our retirement accounts. Many of you are old enough to remember the motion picture "Network". Well, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more!" Please join me and send this very message to our current Congress. Better yet, you have the power to see to it that no incumbent is returned to office in the next election.....please use that power. Return the Delta Queen to our inland river system, where she belongs. And give me back my retirement savings so I can squander it all on this icon of American history and heritage. A quote from Mark Twain: "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."

Submitted by Sue at: April 9, 2009
My mother and I rode the Delta Queen in 2007. The boat was beautiful, warm and cozy, and safe, and put in mind being in another time. We loved the trip, and hoped to revisit her on another cruise some time. Last year, we rode the Queen of the West, a pseudo-steamboat with metal superstructure. The boat was only a shadow of the Delta Queen experience. The Delta Queen should be cleared to sail the rivers with a permanent exemption from the Safety of Life at Sea Act -- she doesn't go to sea! This generation and future generations should have the opportunity to experience this wonderful vessel in action on the rivers of America!

Submitted by Civil War Chaplain at: April 8, 2009
Please don't let this wonderful boat go away. My wife and I took a Civil War themed cruise last May and had a wonderful time. We have lived in northern Illinois on the Mississippi River all our loves and it was always so special to see the Delta Queen go by. We could here the calliope for miles and the wonderful wistle as she would go past the train bridge. We do not want to loose the magnificent treasure.

Submitted by Lila at: April 8, 2009
I've never boarded the Delta Queen, but as a child heard her calliope as she rolled up and down the Mississippi, and wondered what sort of adventures one would experience with her. Life aboard and onshore must have seemed much different from her perspective.

Items 31 - 40 of 229  Previous12345678910Next