• Congressional Action a Lifesaver for Delta Queen

    November 28, 2018

    Great news! On November 27, the House of Representatives passed the Coast Guard Authorization bill (S. 140) which includes provisions that enable the historic Delta Queen steamboat to return to operation as an overnight passenger vessel. The bill will now head to the president’s desk for signature.

    This day was years in the making, as the National Trust for Historic Preservation has long worked closely with lawmakers and advocates nationwide to build support for the last remaining sternwheel steamboat—a proud symbol of American commerce and transportation.

    For years, the Delta Queen has been hampered by regulations that prevented her from carrying more than 50 overnight passengers. Sailing with a full complement of passengers is essential to the owner’s business model and ability to attract investors to secure her financial future. As National Trust president Stephanie Meeks said in a statement issued shortly after the House vote:

    “We are confident that she can again safely provide a unique and enriching overnight experience for current and future generations, while bringing new energy and revenue to the ports she visits along the way. We urge the president to sign this legislation, to set this historic steamship on a new journey, and keep the last vestige of a proud chapter in our American maritime history alive.”

    The Delta Queen is currently in storage on Houma, Louisiana. We will keep you posted on efforts to return this American icon to her former glory.

    Join us in thanking members of Congress for their support for keeping the last vestige of a proud chapter in our American maritime history alive and well.

    Send Letters

  • Senate Passes Legislation to Support the Delta Queen

    April 5, 2017

    On Monday, April 3rd, by a vote of 85-12, the United States Senate passed legislation which could grant the historic Delta Queen a return to cruising America’s inland waterways. On January 10th, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill introduced Senate Bill 89, legislation renewing the Delta Queen’s Congressional exemption from the Safety of Life at Sea Act (SOLAS, Public Law 89-777), a measure which restricts vessels with a wooden superstructure from providing overnight passenger service to more than 50 passengers. Co-sponsored by Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, S. 89 requires that the vessel’s “combustible materials” be reduced annually by 10% and replaced with non-flammable materials.

    Constructed in 1926, the Delta Queen is a National Historic Landmark and the nation’s oldest passenger steamboat that speaks to our nation’s 200 year tradition of cargo and passenger steamboat transportation. The National Trust believes that return of the Delta Queen to overnight passenger cruising will help ensure the long term protection of what can only be described as the last vestige of a uniquely American maritime past. As such, the National Trust fully endorses the passage of S. 89 and requests the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee consider companion legislation, HR 619.

  • Delta Queen takes another step towards a permanent home

    November 10, 2016

    As the Delta Queen continues to pursue legislation that would allow the historic steamboat to cruise once more, its owners have started setting down roots. The Delta Queen Steamboat Co. opened a corporate office and a Port of Call restaurant, lounge and gift shop in Kimmswick, Missouri which is expected to be a regular port for the steamboat. The restaurant will serve French-inspired American dishes and the dining rooms will back to the glory days of the Delta Queen.

    "Our overall goal is to offer visitors the full Delta Queen experience which will help preserve the history of this national treasure," Delta Queen Steamboat Co. president and CEO Cornel Martin said in the release. "The interior beautifully represents the history and nostalgia of America's last authentic steamboat, showcasing the elegance of her cabins and public spaces."

    Louisville Business First reports that between the restaurant and headquarters, the Delta Steamboat Co. "has created about 185 jobs and is expected to have an economic annual impact of more than $4.5 million." The restaurant and its Delta Queen ambiance should do their part to encourage the public to show support for new legislation that would allow the steamboat to cruise once more.

    Learn more about this legislation, and what you can do to help, on our website and get the whole scoop on the Delta Queen Steamboat Co.'s new restaurant and headquarters at Louisville Business First.

  • Delta Queen on the Move

    February 19, 2015

    Better days are ahead for the historic riverboat, Delta Queen. After many years on the market without a willing buyer, Mr. Cornell Martin, president and CEO of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, this week completed the purchase of the Delta Queen and plans to substantially repair the vessel have already begun.

    "My partners and I are thrilled to be taking this critical first step toward the preservation and restoration of this important piece of American and river history," said Martin, "We look forward to the day when the Delta Queen will once again be able to ply America's waterways and allow passengers to relive the experiences of Mark Twain and his unique cast of river characters from the decks of a true 1927 steamboat."

    It is estimated the Delta Queen will need as much as $7 million in repairs before she is ready to sail again. In addition to restoring the Delta Queen's historic features, necessary upgrades also include replacing the World War I-era boilers, steamline, generators and electric panels to prepare the ship for active service. "Our goal is to have the Delta Queen return to cruising America's waterways in 2016 following extensive mechanical and hotel renovations," said Mr. Martin.

    The Delta Queen has a storied history that began in 1927 when she began service as an overnight passenger vessel between Sacramento and San Francisco, California. After a brief period of service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, the vessel was sold as war surplus to Greene Line Steamers of Cincinnati, Ohio. From 1946 to 2008, the Delta Queen operated as an overnight cruise vessel along many of the prominent river and waterways running through America's heartland, including the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Arkansas Rivers.

    As the last operational steam paddle-wheeler that provides overnight accommodations, the National Trust has long sought to ensure the long term preservation of this important piece of maritime history. The Delta Queen is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is classified as a National Historic Landmark. In 2013, the National Trust designated the Delta Queen as one of its National Treasures and work began to help return the Delta Queen to active cruising on our inland waterways.

    In large measure this has meant working with Congress to renew a statutory exemption from a law that prohibits overnight passenger travel on vessels with significant wood construction. Although the Delta Queen's hull is made of steel, her superstructure is constructed of wood. As such, she requires a statutory exemption from the Coast Guard's fire retardant materials regulations for its continued operations on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Congress has approved extending the Delta Queen's exemption from Coast Guard fire retardant materials regulation nine times over the last 40 years with the last exemption expiring in 2008. The National Trust will continue its work to help move legislation to return the Delta Queen to active service.

  • Legislation to Save the Delta Queen Makes Important Progress!

    October 23, 2014

    Just before Congress adjourned in September, legislation that would allow the Delta Queen to cruise again, S.1022, was amended to include additional fire safety requirements and passed out of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation with the support of Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Republican Member Senator John Thune.Unfortunately, time ran out for the full Senate to pass this legislation. The bill’s lead sponsors Senator Brown and Senator Portman from Ohio, as well as Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), John Boozman (D-AR), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and David Vitter (R-LA) are among the strongest supporters of this bipartisan effort to see the Delta Queen cruise again.

    When the Senate returns after the mid-term elections in November, we expect our Senate supporters will request that S.1022 be passed by unanimous consent, a procedure referred to as hotlining. Hotlining legislation is a way to pass non-controversial bills without a recorded vote. If a unanimous consent agreement to hotline S.1022 can be reached, the U.S. House of Representatives will need to pass the amended version of the bill before it can be signed into law.

    The Delta Queen National Treasures Team with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Lee Powell, executive director of the Delta Grassroots Caucus, have worked diligently, together with the steamboat community, to advance this legislation.

1 - 5 of 6 updates

From coast to coast, fascinating historic places are waiting for you to visit and explore.

Begin Your Journey