A Dixie Lady Deer Hunter

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Here Comes The Queen!

This was front page news yesterday in The Vicksburg Post of the giant steamboat returning to our city this coming spring.  The American Queen is coming back to our hometown of Vicksburg and spending the night.  This will give tourist more time to shop, visit historical homes and of course, our Vicksburg National Military Park where the Civil War was fought.  I'm so excited and can't wait to hear the calliope playing as it comes in from the MS River down the Yazoo Diversion Canal to park at the waterfronts edge.

Great American Steamboat completed the deal Monday to acquire the American Queen from the U.S. Maritime Administration, and office of the Departments of Transportation, for $15.5 million. American Queen cruses will follow their same historical routes - the entire MR River from New Orleans to St. Paul, MI; the Ohio River from St. Louis to Pittsburgh, and the Cumberland River in Kentucky and Tennessee.  About 35 or 40 percent of the time, the American Queen will stop in various MS ports including Greenville, Vicksburg and Natchez.

The American Queen was built in 1994 and is 418 feet long and about 89 feet high.  It's fitted with 222 staterooms capable of housing 436 passengers, and features a calliope with 37 gold-plated brass pipes, according to the Steamboats.org website.

In years past, passengers disembarked at City Front and were given the opportunity to walk through shops along downtown Washington Street, visit the park, the Old Court House Museum or other sites - but all in one day.

Now, Great American Steamboat Company will purchase blocks of hotel rooms in Vicksburg for its passengers on overnight stays.

The American Queen last docked in Vicksburg November 3, 2008, when it accompanied the smaller Delta Queen on its last trip down the MS.

Great American Steamship plans to spend about $5 million to renovate the boat, announced the Riverfront Development Corp. of Memphis, which manages the Beale Street Landing development where the American Queen will be based.

The details on schedules and costs will be available September 15.

The two other Queens, Delta, an authentic stern wheel riverboat built in the 1920s was sold in 2009 to a Chattanooga company for use as a floating hotel.  The Mississippi Queen had been moored since 2007 at the Perry Street Wharf in Gretna, LA, before being sold for scrap to a private company in 2010 and its fixtures have been dismantled and the boat cut apart.

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