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March 6, 2014
Collector Requests Help Identifying Items
On Mar 4, 2014, at 12:24 PM, Curtis wrote:
Thank you for your wonderful site! I am a collector of historical documents and sometimes also come across other items. The other day I purchased two light fixtures that are engraved with the words, "Robert E Lee".
The fixtures appear to have at one time been wick type lanterns which were converted to electricity by their owner much later. The reflector plates have also been replaced, However the rest of the fixtures seem to be of the right age to have been on the Robert E Lee steamboat. They are 24 inches high and 9 inches wide.
These came from a region of river working families near the Ohio river and it is my understanding that those who navigated the Ohio often took jobs on other rivers like the Mississippi as well.
I have attached some pictures and wondered if I could get your expert opinion on whether you think these did indeed come from that steamboat and f so from what period. Thanks so much for any help you can give.
Editor's Note If you can offer information, please write to Curtis directly (click here for email).
Time to Call Your Two U.S. Senators
Save the Delta Queen legislation is finally making its way through the Senate. Last year the House of Representatives approved the bill, so this year if the Senate can pass it, put them together, the House will sign off. The bill will go to the president, and American history will benefit.
Therefore, if you have not already done it, call up your Senators and tell them that you support S. 1022 to preserve a worthy historic boat. If you have a quick personal story, be sure to tell it. Whether you went for a cruise or just waved to the boat from the shore, throw that in. Also, you may add that having a genuine historic vessel traveling the rivers means something to you, even if you would prefer to travel on a more modern vessel. Like our national parks and open land, it is nice to know it's out there, and thriving.
You can reach your two Senators here: (202) 224-3121. Have their names ready so the switchboard operator can connect you immediately.
Find your two U.S. Senators by state: http://www.senate.gov/
February 7, 2014
U.S. Senate Delta Grassroots Caucus
Presses Forward with Save the Delta Queen Legislation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Following is a press release from Caucus Director Lee Powell (202) 360-6347.
Also contact: Jay Webster, (engineering expert on the structure of the Delta Queen based in New Orleans)—(850) 525-3830.
"Delta Caucus Praises Senators Boozman, Pryor, Brown, Portman, Landrieu & Vitter for Co-Sponsoring Delta Queen Bill, Urges Rapid Senate Passage."
The Delta Grassroots Caucus praises Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for co-sponsoring the Senate bill to permit the historic steamboat Delta Queen to resume its travels on the Mississippi River and her tributaries. The House passed the bill by a wide margin of 280-89 last fall and the Delta Caucus urges rapid passage by the Senate, where many Senators from both parties are supporters.
"It is time to act right now—the Delta Queen has an exemplary safety record, is a national historic treasure and brings tourist dollars and helps create jobs in the Mississippi Delta as well as the Ohio River valley, and we are delighted that Senator Pryor and Senator Boozman are now co-sponsors of the Delta Queen bill along with many other Senate supporters from both parties," said Caucus Director Lee Powell.
"We encourage the Senate to pass the Delta Queen bill, S. 1022, as rapidly as possible because engineers and other steamboat experts have stated that the longer the boat sits as a floating hotel and does not travel, the more difficult and expensive it is to do the renovations, improvements and updates needed to get her back to cruising again," Powell said.
The bill passed the House by a wide margin on Sept. 25, 2013, but understandably the Senate was absorbed by the government shutdown, budget debates and the farm bill in the period after that, so a smaller-scale but nonetheless meritorious issue like the Delta Queen bill was put on hold. Now it is time to act and move forward right now.
Senate supporters include Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Senators Boozman and Pryor from Arkansas, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), and many others. The Delta Queen previously traveled all along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and their tributaries, with stops at many communities from New Orleans to Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, Memphis, Missouri and farther north, and on the Ohio to Cincinnati and beyond.
Jay Webster, an engineer and steamboat expert with extensive knowledge of the Delta Queen based in New Orleans (he is now manager of Sabine Surveyors LTD's Shipyard Services Division) said "This issue is urgent, because the Delta Queen has been docked as a floating hotel for five years in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and like any machine, the lack of travel by the steamboat creates the need for improvements and renovations to get her ready for overnight cruises again."
"The steamboat cannot resume her travels without Senate passage of the Delta Queen bill, and the longer the boat sits in one place the more expensive the needed renovations and improvements will be," Webster said.
Sen. Boozman said, "The Delta Queen is an iconic piece of our history. She's carried presidents and princesses up and down some of America's most beautiful inland waterways, including the Mississippi River where she spent considerable time trudging the river's muddy waters. All the while, she has maintained an excellent safety record. By allowing the Delta Queen to operate again, we can create jobs and bring tourist dollars to communities along the Mississippi and its tributaries."
Sen. Pryor said, "I sponsored this bill, along with Senator Boozman and the other members of the Arkansas delegation, so we can get the Delta Queen back where she belongs—traveling on the MR&T. It's time for the Senate to take up and pass this bipartisan bill so the Delta Queen can resume her travels and bring much-needed dollars and jobs to the Delta."
Delta Caucus Vice chairman and State Representative Mark McElroy of southeast Arkansas said "The Delta Queen is an icon of the Delta, and the longer we wait to pass this bill the less chance we have of getting the boat back on the Mississippi."
The absolutely essential step in getting the Delta Queen traveling again is Senate passage of the exemption to the Safety of Life at Sea Act (SOLAS), which was intended to apply to ocean-going vessels; but the Delta Queen was caught in its technical provisions when the Coast Guard expanded SOLAS to include boats operating on inland waterways—the Delta Queen was the only boat that was affected by this expansion.
Due to the Queen's exemplary safety record, Congress approved the exemption to SOLAS for 42 years. The Safety of Life at Sea act (our italics) was intended to apply to ocean-going vessels that travel far out to sea, and not to riverboats that are always close to the shore. Over its entire history, the Delta Queen was operated safely in cruising America's rivers for 80 years.
"We would like to commend the Seafarers International Union, the American Maritime Officers, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation for endorsing this legislation," Powell said. The Delta Queen has been officially designated as a National Historic Landmark.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently donated $2 million toward deferred maintenance of the Delta Queen.
"Passage of the bill is essential and on the positive side will also provide additional positive publicity and incentive to investors who have expressed interest in buying the boat and resuming her travels," Webster said.
Webster said that "No investors are going to buy the boat and make those major investments for the needed improvements and renovations before they even know if the Senate is going to pass the bill giving the boat legal permission to travel again."
Editor's note: this is great news, thank you. More press coverage: Arkansas News "Boozman, Pryor join Delta Queen effort," Feb. 7, 2014; Natchez Democrat, "Bill would allow ship to sail," Feb. 10, 2014; Natchez Democrat, Editorial: "Delta Queen deserves her river freedom," Feb. 12, 2014; Vicksburg Post, "Senators support a return for Delta Queen," Feb. 12, 2014.
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