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 Sue at: April 4, 2009
I have never been on the Delta Queen but it has been a goal to take the kids and show them the American heartland that spawned the characters of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. Please help make this possible.

Submitted by William at: April 3, 2009
My memories are not of the Delta Queen but of it's sister ship, The Delta King. About 30 years ago the King was docked in Richmond, California. It sat there half sunk rotting away looking. When I would drive through Richmond (there was no freeway then) I would comment to my dad how sad it was. Luckily the King was saved and moved to Sacramento, where is it now a floating hotel. The Queen was built for travel between San Francisco and Sacramento. Sadly most people don't know this and assume it is a Mississippi River Boat. I wish it could be brought home to San Francisco and made a part of the National Park's Maritime Museum.

Submitted by George at: April 2, 2009
I was planning a trip for my family for 2010. I hope she is able to sail again. My children would have had memories for a lifetime. I think I would have a few myself. What a disappointment.

Submitted by Steve L at: April 2, 2009
I have never traveled on the Delta Queen, but as someone who has volunteered my time on the John W. Brown, a WW2 Liberty ship, I can tell you that the Delta Queen must be kept in good operational, not just cosmetic, condition in order for her historic integrity to be protected. Please add the Delta Queen to your list of endangered places, as only by staying as a living, steaming vessel on our waterways will she be truly preserved.

Submitted by Amy Sue at: April 1, 2009
Wow! When I was in third grade, my family took the Delta Queen from St. Louis to Memphis. It was the best and fanciest trip of my childhood. I still remember waving to all the kids along the riverbank who would come out to greet the beautiful paddle wheel boat. We also loved the calliope and flying kites off the back deck. What a beauty! We can NOT let her go! (Trip around 1971) Amy

Submitted by silverstreakerjr at: March 31, 2009
I've never had the opportunity to cruise the "mighty Miss" on the Queen, but it sure was on the bucket list of this 7- year old. Please do what it takes to re-fire her boilers and keep the body of Mark Twain from spinning in his grave at her current fate!

Submitted by Lynn at: March 31, 2009
My wife and I, her two sisters and their husbands rode the Delta Queen for a few days out of Pittsburgh.The atmosphere, the charm, the service were all superb. This boat deserves the statutory exemption from the Safety of Life at Sea Act. I'm looking forward to another river cruise on the Delta Queen in the future.

Submitted by Mindy at: March 27, 2009
I travelled twice on the Delta Queen: St. Paul to St. Louis and the next year Lexington to Chattanooga. I was hooked the first year because of how quiet she is. When you can hear a loon take off -- that's quiet. While I'm glad she is still serving (and not at the wreckers) I will point out that her twin, the Delta King, has been a floating hotel for years in Sacramento, CA. I'd much rather keep on actually plying the waters rather than resting on them.

Submitted by Merry at: March 27, 2009
I live in Madison IN. Hearing that calliope for the first time back in 1972 stole my heart. It was the first time I had the opportunity to see a real steamboat up close. Back in those days townspeople could go on and share a drink while she was docked. When the DQ came to town, announced by the blast of the steam whistle, it was like a magnet for the town to converge on the riverfront. We've shared those times with visiting friends and our children who grew up watching the Queen dock and depart. We would follow along River Road towards Vevay as the DQ plied upriver towards Cincinnati. My dream was to someday make a trip on her. It was realized last April when my husband and I booked the trip from New Orleans to Cincy, taking part in the Great Steamboat Race. What a marvelous, historic trip. We met so many wonderful people among the staff and passengers. Being on the steamboat for 14 days created a family. I am so sorry to see the opportunity for that kind of experience to be lost. I am happy that she can at least be of service in Chattanooga, but wouldn't it be grand if she could some day be back on the rivers so that our children and grandchildren could learn and experience the lore of steamboating and the significance it played in our history. Long live the Delta Queen!

Submitted by Carol & Shirley at: March 26, 2009
We started riding the rivers on the Delta Queen in the early 1970's. We have enjoyed nearly 40 trips (over 3/4 on the DQ)on the different Queens, We prefer the Delta Queen because of her size, authenticity, and the great crew. Also, her ability to travel on the smaller rivers where you get a better perspective of history, and life along the rivers in the heartland of America. We have had adventures on the waters of the mighty Mississippi and Ohio Rivers during flooding, in rain and wind storms. However, while plying the rivers on the Delta Queen, the sunrises and sunsets we have been privileged to enjoy bring a feeling of peace and tranquility which is hard to find in todays world. So we can only say give us back those " "GOOD OLD RIVERBOAT DAYS."

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