Delta Queen, one of few remaining Links to America’s Steamboat Tradition, Named to National Trust’s 2016 11 Most Endangered List
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The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named the Delta Queen steamboat to its 2016 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. This annual list spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural and cultural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. More than 270 sites have been on the list over its 29-year history, and in that time, fewer than five percent of listed sites have been lost.
Built in 1926, the Delta Queen has a storied history as an overnight steamboat vessel carrying passengers between Sacramento and San Francisco, California. She was one of hundreds of steamboats that traversed the nation’s rivers in the early 20th century. The long history of the boat includes her role transporting troops during World War II. Today, she is among the last of her kind, one of America’s few remaining links to our nation’s 200-year history of overnight passenger steamboat travel.
In 2008 the Delta Queen’s grandfathered status exempting her from legislation prohibiting overnight travel on large wooden boats, expired. Now legislation is needed to allow this prestigious ship to return to overnight passenger cruising, a key piece to securing the Delta Queen’s sustainability and future.
Bipartisan legislation is pending in both chambers of Congress that for the ninth time in the vessel’s history, would allow the Delta Queen to carry more than 50 overnight passengers. The legislation identifies a strategy to reduce fire risk and ensure modern safety protocols are implemented for the Delta Queen to operate safely. If Congress fails to pass this legislation, the Delta Queen will not receive the reinvestment she needs to sail again and a remarkable piece of our nation’s maritime history will be lost.
“The Delta Queen serves as one of the last remaining vestiges of a celebrated tradition in our country’s history,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Allowing the Delta Queen to traverse our rivers again would restore this unique experience for travelers along our great waterways.”
In 1989, the Delta Queen was named a National Historic Landmark, and in 2013, as a National Treasure by the National Trust. The steamboat’s original interior features include Tiffany-style stained glass windows, hardwood paneling, brass fittings, and a grand staircase crowned by a crystal chandelier. She also retains her original system of engines and boilers, though much has been upgraded or replaced to maintain the boat’s functionality and safety.
From 1946 until the most recent exemption expired in 2008, the Delta Queen successfully operated as an overnight cruise vessel along the nation’s many prominent waterways, including the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Arkansas Rivers. From 2009 to 2014, she operated as a dockside hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Members of the public are invited to learn more about what they can do to support these 11 historic places and hundreds of other endangered sites at www.SavingPlaces.org/11Most
The 2016 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places (in alphabetical order):
- Austin’s Lions Municipal Golf Course – Austin, Texas. Widely regarded as the first municipal golf course in the South to desegregate, “Muny” is an unheralded civil rights landmark facing development pressure.
- Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall at Lincoln University – Lincoln, Pa. The oldest building on the campus of the first degree- granting institution in the nation for African Americans, this hallowed building currently stands empty and faces an uncertain future.
- Bears Ears – Southeastern Utah. The 1.9 million-acre Bears Ears cultural landscape features a world-class collection of archaeological sites, cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, and ancient roads that illuminate 12,000 years of human history yet is now threatened by looting, mismanaged recreational use, and energy development.
- Charleston Naval Hospital District – North Charleston, S.C. The historic district played a prominent role during WWII as a primary re-entry point for American servicemen injured in Europe and Africa. Now threatened by a proposed rail line, this important historic resource is at risk of being largely destroyed.
- Delta Queen – Houma, La. This steamboat was built in 1926 and today is among the last of her kind. Federal legislation that would enable this prestigious ship to return to overnight passenger cruising remains a key piece to securing the Delta Queen’s sustainability and future.
- El Paso’s Chihuahuita and El Segundo Barrio Neighborhoods – El Paso, Texas. These historic neighborhoods form the core of El Paso’s cultural identity, but their homes and small businesses are threatened by demolition.
- Historic Downtown Flemington – Flemington, N.J. Historic buildings at the core of the town that hosted the ‘Trial of the Century,’ the Charles Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial, are threatened by a development proposal that would demolish the iconic Union Hotel along with three other adjacent historic buildings.
- James River - James City County, Va.Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement, was founded along the banks of the James River in 1607. The river and landscape, also named to this list by the Trust in 2013, remain threatened by a proposed transmission line project that would compromise the scenic integrity of this historic area.
- Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Domes - Milwaukee, Wis. A beloved Milwaukee institution for generations, a unique engineering marvel and a highly significant example of midcentury modern architecture, the Milwaukee Domes are facing calls for their demolition.
- San Francisco Embarcadero – San Francisco, Calif. The City by the Bay's iconic waterfront is beloved by residents and visitors alike, but needs long-term planning to address the dual natural threats of sea level rise and seismic vulnerability.
- Sunshine Mile – Tucson, Ariz. This two-mile corridor on Tucson’s Broadway Boulevard features one of the most significant concentrations of historic mid-century modern architecture in the Southwest. This unique collection of properties face threats from a transportation project that would require demolition.
America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has identified more than 270 threatened one-of-a-kind historic treasures since 1988. Whether
these sites are urban districts or rural landscapes, Native American landmarks or 20th-century sports arenas, entire communities or single buildings, the list
spotlights historic places across America that are threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. The designation
has been a powerful tool for raising awareness and rallying resources to save endangered sites from every region of the country. At times, that attention has
garnered public support to quickly rescue a treasured landmark; while in other instances, it has been the impetus of a long battle to save an important piece of our