We are pleased to report that DELTA QUEEN and MISSISSIPPI QUEEN are still running, the former in spite of rather than because of the frequently misguided efforts of her owner, and the latter for reasons that nobody can fathom. The Coca-Cola Company of New York, present owner of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, has some rather peculiar thoughts on the operation of steamboats, particularly one with such great historical significance as DELTA QUEEN.
"MISS-Q" (a nickname coined by Capt. Frederick Way, Jr., dean of river historians) made her first trip to the upper Mississippi in mid-June on a voyage from St. Louis to St. Paul. The boat, whose appearance from a distance resembles that of a row of townhouses on a barge, was far from fully booked due to the company's odd decision to send the popular DELTA QUEEN on the same run less than a week later. MISS-Q's performance has always left much to be desired but she and her pilots excelled themselves on this trip. On the first shore stop of the trip, at Nauvoo, Illinois, she managed to demolish three trees with her landing stage. The townsfolk were not amused.
At 10:30 p.m. on June 11, upbound at Albany, Illinois, she failed to lower her stacks for a cable crossing. With a large crowd gathered ashore to watch her first passage, the big boat snagged the cable, pulled it down, and demolished the tower on the Albany riverfront. The tower fell on a number of spectators' autos and several persons were injured. Fortunately, the cable was not live and was already scheduled for removal. Perhaps, as a precaution, those wishing to observe MISS-Q, even from a distance, should equip themselves with rubber boots and safety helmets...
The third incident of the trip occurred Sunday, June 17, when MISS-Q, downbound at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, grounded whilst leaving the landing. This is one of the few spots on the river where up and downbound channels are separated, in this case to avoid several islands. Arriving, MISS-Q ran down the Iowa channel, swung opposite McGregor, and headed up the easterly channel to dock at Prairie du Chien. Departing, she took the Wisconsin channel upbound, intending to turn at the head of the island and head down past Marquette. The pilot cut the corner too close and, in full view of the assembled multitudes, put the boat on a sandbar at mile 636.5. Two and a half hours later, MISS-Q was freed with the aid of a towboat. We understand that the company may consider keeping MISSISSIPPI QUEEN on the Ohio and lower Mississippi in future years, allowing D.Q. to handle the St. Paul trips.
One of the most popular cruises operated by the Greene Line was the run to Chattanooga, some 500 miles up the Tennessee River. DELTA QUEEN last went there in 1970 and Greene Line's successors have since refused to reactivate this cruise. Under increasing pressure from boat fans, the Delta Queen Steamboat Company has agreed to consider such a trip for 1981 provided that sufficient interest can be demonstrated in advance.
Preliminary enquiries indicate that considerable support exists and it is possible that the trip may be operated as a charter for steamboat fans. We are contemplating a 14-day round-trip from St. Louis in June or July, but cannot yet advise details of exact dates or fares. We are NOT now asking for any commitment but would appreciate hearing from anyone who might be interested and to whom information could be sent as details become known. Kindly address the Editor as soon as possible so that the group may assess support for the trip.
This cruise, wending its way through some very scenic and historically significant country (particularly interesting for students of the Civil War), would be a great introduction for steamboaters who have promised themselves a trip on DELTA QUEEN but who have not yet experienced the pleasures of this beautiful old vessel or the relaxing nature of a river vacation. Come with us to Chattanooga in 1981 and help us to show Coca-Cola how to run a steamboat!
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.