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 Bowen at: April 7, 2009
My husband and I saved for our anniversary trip on the DQ for over 15 years. We finally got to take our trip for our 23 wedding anniversary. The trip was very memorable and the crew made us feel like we had stepped back in time. The DQ has been apart of our lives for 50 years since we grew up in Hannibal, Missouri and the arrival of the DQ for its many visits was a big thing for our rivertown. Please help her.

Submitted by Diana at: April 7, 2009
In December 2000 we were very fortunate to be on the Delta Queen during their Christmas celebration. Nine years later we are still talking about what a special & unique trip this was. There is nothing that can compare to sitting on the deck and slowly moving up (& down) the Mississippi. The ship's captain playing the calliope. The visits to the towns along the way. The evening entertainment. We renewed our wedding vows on this trip. The Delta Queen is a national treasure & should be moving on the our rivers not tied up to a dock. Let's get rid of the politics & do what is right. Allow future travelers the opportunity to experience what we did. Allow us the opportunity to do it again. Diana & Warren

Submitted by Jim & Von Ceil at: April 7, 2009
My wife and I traveled 8 times on the Delta Queen. I wish now it was twice that number. Whena person tavels by steam boat it is a trip past an America few have seen and very few have seen from water. We were partial to the smaller rivers, Black Warrior of Alabama and the Tombigbee are favorites. We love the Ohio very much, having traveled its length in a combination of 4 DQ trips. It is a quiet way to vacation with only the relaxing sound of the paddle wheel as an indication of motion. Steam is quiet, clean power. The DQ was all that remained of Americas river boating history. The rivers were once Americas freeways for transport and for passengers and great steam boats plyed the inland waters. Delta Queen is the last of the great steam powered paddle wheel river boats. Just like 100 years ago, when a paddle wheeler comes into view on the river people stop just to watch her pass by. DQ Captain would often return a wave on shore with a whistle from the boat. These little things made up much of a DQ vacation. Never a gambling boat, folks had less complex ways to pass the time, kite flying was always a well attended event. The entertainment on board was fabulous, stimulating, clean and just plain fun. We shall miss her, the Delta Queen. 8 wasn't enough! A person could ride other boats but it won't be the same. Folks on shore will not hurry to a viewpoint to see a barge pass. I hope the politicians can rally here and agree this boat is worth saving. The experience is pure America, wholesome and wonderful. Laslty we will never forget the crew and officers. Every one of them worked long, hard hours, always with a smile and they made you feel as if the whole journey was laid out just for you.

Submitted by Jeff at: April 7, 2009
When I was a kid - living in one of the river towns in Minnesota - we could hear the calliope from a mile inland on the bluffs. We would call neighbors, hop in the car, and run down to the river to see the beautiful lady of the river - the Delta Queen. We would stand on the platform at the lock and dam and wave at the passengers and listen to the calliope as the ship went through the locks. It was wonderful music to hear. There is no music quite as wonderful. I would love to be able to ride the Delta Queen someday (as yet I have not). The Delta Queen should be allowed to continue as a traveling treasure for this country and the water ways of the central part of the country. There is, really, no better way to honor the people of the nation, the people and communities of the river, or the people who signed petitions (in I think it was in the 1970s (Thank You Mom)) to save the Delta Queen than to allow her to continue to ply the rivers under her own paddle power. The simple reality of the situation is that the Delta Queen is still a capable ship, the owners are responsible owners who made an investment to bring this treasure to the people of the nation, and the people who want to enjoy her splendor should not be deprived. Thank You. Jeff Mackey

Submitted by New Mexico Landlubbers at: April 5, 2009
We took our first and unfortunately last voyage on the Delta Queen near the end of the 2008 season. What a wonderful experience. Truly a piece of living history. We pray that this wonderful ship will somehow be rescued from the quagmire of political posturing to be resurrected and once again become the Reigning Queen of the Mississippi. What a shame that generations of people may never have the experience that we did. Mike & Anna Pitts

Submitted by laura & tony meadors at: April 5, 2009
Leaders diminish our world when they apply sweeping laws without regard to history or common sense. My wife and I have enjoyed trips on the Delta Queen each spring for some time. Now the law says this historic landmark cannot do what it is perfectly suited to do. I understand why the requirments that were put in place for ships and liners...but when applied to all vessels... Exceptions should be made. The towns relied on this ship as a historic attraction. Our youth see nothing but kmarts and videos all day. This loss diminishes us all. anthony meadors ph.d.

Submitted by Toni at: April 5, 2009
I have never been a passenger on the Delta Queen, but I have been a guest on her several times throughout my life. When I was 13 years old, Barbara Hameister introduced me to her. As soon as I walked on board, I fell in love. It felt like she reached out and just gave me a big hug and said “Welcome.” Just last year, I was able to relive that moment with my husband and my son, who was also 13. Both had the same experience I did. All they talked about was the love and warmth they felt when they walked on board. We all love her. It would be so wonderful if we could make this experience a family tradition that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren could share in as well. Please help us get her running again where she belongs.

Submitted by Glenn at: April 5, 2009
I was married at the base of the Grand Staircase pictured here and took a honeymoon cruise from New Orleans to Natchez. This was over 30 years ago and the ship looks as safe and secure as it was then. Plying the waterways rather than tied up to a dock serving as a hotel is the correct role for this historic ship.

Submitted by Allison and Kent at: April 4, 2009
We celebrated our honeymoon in style at the historic 2004 Grand Excursion, and one of the most impressive features was, of course, THE DELTA QUEEN!! When this immense, ornate vessel arrived at Dubuque, it dwarfed the other paddle-wheelers and brought waves of cheers from the tens of thousands who had come to see the great Delta Queen. We were so looking forward to scheduling a floating-down-the- Mississippi-family reunion aboard the Delta Queen, and we still hope that this can be possible in the next few years.

Submitted by Bonnie Lou and Bob at: April 4, 2009
We were able to cruise on the Queen twice. Once we visited Hannibal MO - what a hoot to see Mark Twain's boyhood hometown by steamboat. The second trip introduced us to the finest emerging bluegrass band in the U.S. today - the Steep Canyon Rangers out of Asheville, NC. Our goal has been to cruise on her again.

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