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 Harriet at: March 18, 2009
St. Louis is a river city and the DQ is part of her history. I steamed on the DQ to other ports i.e. New Orleans, Pittsburg, Little Rock. I arrived early and stayed after sailing. These river cities benetitted from lodging, dinning and other expenses. I do feel quite safe on this boat. She is a national treasure. Please save her for future trips.

Submitted by Leigh at: March 18, 2009
Save the DQ. I sailed her on the Mississippi, Ohio and Arkansas Rivers. The first time was the Steamboad Race with Miss. Queen for 11 wonderful days. The DQ won the race. She's a grand and safe boat! One of a kind.

Submitted by Kg at: March 18, 2009
My wife and I have traveled many rivers on the Delta Queen including the Mississippi, the Ohio, the Tennessee, the Tom-Tom waterway and the Black Water river. Each trip has been a different and exciting experience, wondering what the river would look like ahead and wondering who would see our wake behind. There is nothing like river travel, whether on a meandering headwater or locking through one of the many locks. Water, birds, shore ... the scene changes slowly from one to another with ever changing delight. Eagles, cranes, heron...wonderful sightings. Sometimes, especially at night, my wife and I would sit on the bridge watching the river go by, watching the distant tree line of the Mississippi or the steel mills of the Ohio that look like the entrance to Hades. The memories we hold are priceless ... and I only hope that others can have the opportunity to travel the waterways of the US on the Delta Queen. She is a grand old ship and a national treasure.

Submitted by C.A. at: March 18, 2009
My Delta Queen excursion in l981 -- from New Orleans to St. Louis -- was my very first experience in group travel, which I had always disdained; but this was the voyage of a lifetime.....and with it began a lifelong affiliation with the Stanford Alumni Travel Association. The most memorable aspects of the adventure, in addition to the pace and scenery, were the many friends made -- especially the Steamboat's master musician, the incomparable Vic Tooker, who with his charming mother Alice, made that trip for me the experience of a lifetime. I had brought along my clarinet (which I had played for 30 years) and I shall never forget having been invited to play several times with Vic and the Riverboat Ramblers -- truly among the most exciting and memorable experiences of my life! I subsequently signed up for another 8 journeys on that fabulous vessel -- on all our inland rivers of the Midwest. The experience of traveling America's heartland along its rivers is simply indescribably glorious. I'd take nothing for the memories -- and I can hardly believe our surely uninformed and misguided Congress is determined to deny future generations the immense rewards and pleasures of vintage steamboat travel -- that no other mode of travel can even approximate. Please save the Delta Queen and keep her plying the inland waterways of America.

Submitted by CPASteamboater at: March 18, 2009
We have traveled several times aboard this grand steamboat always enjoying watching the shore pass on both sides as we slowed life down to eight miles an hour. Where else can we find this alternative to a hectic life? We will miss her.

Submitted by George Moore at: March 18, 2009
As someone who has enjoyed several river cruises aboard the DELTA QUEEN, I thank the National Trust for Historic Preservation for their efforts on behalf of all Americans to preserve this historic gem. This beautiful boat should be preserved for not only us, but for the generations to come, giving them the opportunity to experience travel on a true sternwheeler steamboat. It will continue a great American tradition, and is the only way to guarantee our children and grandchildren will get to see and physically enjoy this important part of our country's history. My cruises on the Tennessee, Mississippi, and Ohio rivers aboard the DELTA QUEEN are some of my most precious memories. The cruises provided a chance to experience important parts of our country’s history in a way that no book or lecture can match. It is very ironic that she should be grounded by a technicality in light of her exemplary safety record for the last 80 years. Allowing her to continue does not endanger the public. I strongly support issuing a new exemption from SOLAS regulations (which are reasonable for sea-going vessels, but not for river vessels) for the steamboat DELTA QUEEN.

Submitted by Susie at: March 18, 2009
I traveled lots of times on the DQ and really miss it! I sure hope it gets an exemption someday! Thanks for your hard work.

Submitted by Pat S at: March 17, 2009
My dad played the calliope on the Delta Queen in 1970. In fact, my first daughter was born in New York at the time and all of the travelers on board held a celebration for her and gave him a creation of their own making - I believe it was hat with streamers, and I think she still has it packed away. We have a recording made by him on the DQ. His name was Danny Daniels and he passed away in 1975. I hope to get over to see the ship in Chattanooga this summer. It will mean a lot to me.

Submitted by Jo Ann Schoen at: March 17, 2009
I have so enjoyed reading all the posts to this site. Some have made me chuckle, others have brought a tear to my eye. You see, I've been in love with the DELTA QUEEN since I was a child growing up on the Ohio River. My great great grandfather owned steamboats and was a captain. My grandfather sold lumber to the Greene's before he passed away in the 1940's. My father came home from the hospital on the SOUTHLAND. River and steamboats are in my blood. As kids we would hear the DELTA blow for the locks above our house. As we knew we were not allowed to go to the river by ourselves, we firmly insisted that someone - anyone had to take us to the river to see the DELTA go by, so we could wave to her passengers, try to get the captain to blow the whistle and to jump her waves. They were bigger than a regular towboat because of her big red paddlewheel. I love history, antiques and old houses. Over the years I sent off for brochures, but it seemed with raising a family and working there was never enough time or money. Finally the year I turned 50 and thinking about if I could do anything I wanted to do, what would it be? Immediately it came to mind that I had always wanted to ride the DELTA QUEEN. They say life begins at 50. Believe you me, it did for me. I fell head over heels in LOVE. Since September 2001 I have taken 17 trips on the DELTA QUEEN and chased her numerous times and I'm still working a full time job and have to juggle vacation days to make it happen. Words can not describe the feeling you get when getting on the DELTA QUEEN, be it the first time or the 17th time. She is MAJIC! She is a time machine. She is living history. She has a crew like no other. Her experience is unique in every way. She is romantic. She is musical. She is a living, breathing being. She has a heart and a soul. And to think the very body that should be protecting her (our Congress), is the one that is keeping us from having the wonderul, heartwarming experience. Others have described the wonderful crew (who are scattered to the winds now), the towns people that come to greet her and see her off when she leaves, the shop owners that need her revenue, the vendors that supply her. Many, many have suffered due to our shortsighted Congressmen. She is Americana at it's best. She travels the heartland of another time. She warms old folks hearts and thrills young ones. Her calliope playing and folks waving you can forget the fast paced life of the 21st century and slow down just a little. Meet and greet the person sitting next to you. Enjoy a quiet afternoon. A slow stroll around her deck with the moon dazzling off the wake. The stars shining bright in the dark sky among the hills. Yes, the wildlife you see in their natural habitat. There are not enough words to describe our beloved DELTA QUEEN. So to the folks at the National Trust, now is the time to include her on your 11 Most Endangered List. Congress now is the time to pass a permanent exemption. AIME now is the time to donate her to a loving caring owner who understands what real steamboatin' is. America needs this boost, no bail out required. Who will be the savior of this institution of American history!?!?! America stand up and be counted. Don't walk, run to your nearest Representative and Senator and demand they take action today!

Submitted by Gene & Deloris at: March 17, 2009
I first saw this great boat in 1947 when she passed by New Martinsville, WV on her way to Pitttsburgh to dry dock. I was 13 at the time.My Dad and I walked under her while she was on dry dock.I have loved her ever since. My wife and I have taken 3 trips on her.Fantastic times!!! That beautiful old Steam Engine really intriqued me. Spent a lot of time in engine room. I know that whistle every time I hear it. We live next to the Hannibal Locks, and go over every time she comes thru.Please help save this Grand Old Lady. Any time that she stops in New Martinsville it is a great help to our local economy. Thank you!!!!!!!!! These people in Washington must not look at safety records.How many have died aboard Cruise Ships on the ocean? Not One on the DQ!!

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