A Legislative and Corporate History
From the Files of Bill N. Muster
and Richard C. Simonton

Muster & Simonton Delta Queen documents index - click here.
Delta Queen legislative and coroprate timeline - click here.

Summary: In January Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New York bought the Delta Queen Steamboat Company. Coca-Cola appointed Betty Blake company president as of May 1.

Rep. Sullivan introduced HR 13326 asking for a five-year exemption for the Delta Queen. It passed the House of Representatives 367 to 9 on July 19, and then went to the Senate. It passed the Senate on Oct. 1 and President Ford signed it on Oct. 18.

Construction on the Mississippi Queen was completed in July and the Shakedown, Homecoming, and Maiden Voyages were held on schedule. The boat suffered from numerous mechanical problems caused by faulty engineering and construction, thus it had to return to the shipyard for repairs.

Read the highlights for this year or skip to 1977

Jan. 1976:

Misc.: General correspondence.

News Clippings: Signature magazine, brief mention in story on Dan Lufkin, man from Coca-cola who bought the DQ; Milwaukee Journal, new boat; Star-Ledger, travel story.

Feb. 1976:

Misc.: General correspondence; Salvage Association report; Steamboat Times, for Mississippi Queen; press release, "Voyages to America."

News Clippings: Wall Street Journal, Coca-Cola to buy ONA; photo/captions on new boat; Cincinnati Enquirer, new boat.

March 1976:

Misc.: General correspondence; information on "breakfast briefings" for travel agents.

News Clippings: Travel magazine, listing under "Selected Tours of the Month."

April 1976:

Misc.: General correspondence; HR 13326 ("To extend. . . the existing exemption of the steamboat Delta Queen from certain vessel laws.")

News Clippings: Stockton Record, "Muddy Waters Around Delta King Cleared - A Little"; Chicago Tribune and Cincinnati Enquirer (two stories), on Blake; Detroit Free Press, on new boat; Los Angeles Times, Rep. Sullivan quits Congress.

May 1976:

Misc.: General correspondence; film contract with John Hartford; letter on upcoming Merchant Marine hearings on HR 13326; Keating's Steamboat Log printed; MQ startup costs; press releases: "Mississippi Queen Makes 11 Round Trips Out of New Orleans"; "Coke of New York Names Betty Blake as President of Steamboat Company."

News Clippings: New boat: Miami Herald, San Francisco Examiner, Travel Agent. Misc.: story on Coke; cruise industry; Incentive Travel Manager, travel story; Blake, Cincinnati Post.

June 1976:

Misc.: General correspondence; media coverage report; Muster and Blake congressional testimony for HR 13326; House of Representatives Report of Proceedings; press release, space available on DQ.

News Clippings: Ad Age magazine, Coke; Travel, photo story on steamboat race; Travel Weekly Perspective magazine, Blake mention in women in travel industry roundup; News-Post, travel agents in Laguna Beach; Times-Picayune, Sullivan retiring; ads.

July 1976:

Misc.: General correspondence; MQ souvenir booklet and invitation to Shakedown cruise; press releases on new boat, "No Compass," new date for Maiden Voyage; MQ Pageantry Manual; signed photographic and recording releases; Homecoming Cruise film clip script; Congressional Record, information on HR 13326.

News Clippings: Louisville Times, Cincinnati Enquirer, other papers, new boat; Long Island Press, editorial by Blake on preserving the DQ; ads.

Aug 1976:

Misc.: General correspondence; information on Sullivan Testimonial Dinner; misc. on Shakedown, Homecoming, and Maiden Voyages; Senate Report to accompany S 1625 ("To extend. . . existing exemption")

News Clippings: New boat: Time magazine, "The Nation"; photo of DQ and MQ near Vicksburg (two of 20+ clippings); Evansville Press, "Queen's First Trip Ends on a Bus"; etc.

Misc.: Associated Press, woman painter to become pilot; Pittsburgh Press, Ruth Heimbuecher story on Gabriel Chengery; misc. travel stories; Cincinnati Post, editorial based on a speech by Sullivan on MQ/DQ.

Sept. 1976:

Misc.: General correspondence; Coca-Cola President Millard on problems with new boat, calliope; information on waterways users charge legislation and form letter to all congressmen; draft of corporate plan for DQ Steamboat Co.

News Clippings: San Diego Union and others, "MQ Haunting for a Ghost"; Los Angeles Herald Examiner, new boat story; Travel Age West, "Merger by ONA Being Planned"; Des Moines Register Sunday supplement, "New Queen is the Ritz on a Barge," with color photos; editorial on calliope; story on Mississippi River and MQ.

Oct. 1976:

Misc.: PL 94-535 ("To extend. . . exemption of the steamboat Delta Queen from certain vessel laws."); general correspondence; final narrative for MQ film; documentation on MQ/calliope repairs; memo to blow the steam whistle for Sullivan as boats pass her home in St. Louis; excerpt about DQ exemption from Presidential Documents: Gerald R. Ford, 1976; letter from president of Coca-cola on DQ exemption and Muster's reply.

News Clippings: Travel Trade magazine, DQ information and photo of both boats near Vicksburg; Mexico City News, Dallas Morning News, travel story on MQ/DQ; UPI and AP, others, on legislation; article on riverboat gambler; Wall Street Journal, on ONA/Coca-Cola transaction; woman engineer on Natchez; Los Angeles Times, mention under "Tours and Cruises" in travel section.

Nov. 1976:

Misc.: General correspondence; list of 56 newspapers carrying Houston cruise story; 1977 Communications Program, PR proposal; CCI PR proposal; press release: "DQ Saved Again".

News Clippings: Peanut soup and riverboat gambler stories.

Dec. 1976:

Misc.: General correspondence; list of 13 papers carrying Blake story, 43 papers carrying photo of MQ/DQ meeting at Vicksburg, and 25 papers carrying Old South Cruises story; press release on space still available.

News Clippings: Articles on Sullivan; riverboat gambler; Travel Agent magazine, travel story on MQ; AP story on disaster of building MQ.


Misc.: General correspondence; feasibility study of going to Houston; "The John Hartford Love Affair" manuscript; response to points raised by USCG Benkert; travel agent's press kit mentioning DQ; Coca-Cola Bottling Co. 1976 Annual Report.

Press Releases: Master files of all 1976 press releases.

News Clippings: DQ celebrates 50th birthday; Chevron USA, cover story on MQ christening, TTG Supplement Destination America, photo and reservation information.

Summary: When repair of the Mississippi Queen was arranged in November 1976, it was already too late to do an adequate marketing job for 1977. Considering the difficult circumstances and shortness of time, Delta Queen and Coca-Cola officials asked Bill Muster to develop a last-minute marketing and advertising campaign.

In April, Stan Thune of Coca-Cola Bottling, was appointed vice president and general manager for the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. The following month, the advertising account was shifted back to Cincinnati. Despite losing the account and suffering personal inconvenience, Muster testified on behalf of the steamboats in waterways users tax hearings in July.

In a letter to Sullivan, Muster wrote: "I'm quite disappointed in Coke's handling and management of the Delta Queen and Mississippi Queen. . . . So far, they don't seem interested in my advice or in utilizing the experience of people such as Betty Blake. Instead, they keep blundering along, apparently with the hope that a miracle will happen."

Thune left the Delta Queen and returned to Coca-cola in August. A merger deal with Prudential Lines fell through, but one of Prudential's executives was hired to replace Thune as general manager.

Misc.: In May, Betty Blake won the Woman of the Year Award from DATO. In August, Garmatz was indicted on bribery charges. In October, Hinckley resigned as chairman/director of ONA. (Coca-cola never purchased ONA, only the Delta Queen.)

Read the highlights for this year or skip to 1978

Jan. 1977:

Misc.: Marketing materials and correspondence; management and warrant agreement; Market Research Pilot Study; Marketing Staff Conference Report.

News Clippings: Odyssey magazine, DQ 50th anniversary; Travel Weekly and TravelAge West, riverboat gambler ad; UPI, "Fans Prefer Old Delta Queen"; Cincinnati Enquirer, on ad agency; Cincinnati Post, MQ troubles; AP, woman engineer on Natchez; TravelAge West, photo/caption of riverboat gambler.

Feb. 1977:

Misc.: Marketing materials and correspondence; press release on DQ 51st season; draft press release on MQ ("She's been poked, groped and jabbed at, told to lose 15 tons off her rear")

Newspaper Advertising: Summaries and reports of ads placed by CCI.

News Clippings: Scale R/C Modeler, photo story on steamboats and model builders; various ad clippings.

March 1977:

Misc.: Marketing materials and correspondence.

Newspaper Advertising: Summaries and reports of ads placed by CCI.

News Clippings: Travel Management Daily, item on Prudential Lines helping MQ management; various ad clippings.

April 1977:

Misc.: Marketing materials and correspondence; press release on small river cities; Mayran summary of activities and suggestions to Blake for DATO presentation; Stan Thune appointed vice president and general manager; other memos.

Newspaper Advertising: Summaries and reports of ads placed by CCI.

News Clippings: Washington Post, "On a Slow Boat to Natchez," also, "Mississippi Dreamin'," on MQ; Chilton's Going Places, "Mississippi Queen, I Love Y'All"; various ads.

May 1977:

Misc.: Correspondence between Muster and Thune regarding termination of CCI services; Blake wins Myron Glaser Woman of the Year Award; Copely News Service stories on Blake and MQ; DATO press release on Blake as Woman of the Year in travel.

Newspaper Advertising: Summaries and reports of ads placed by CCI.

News Clippings: Travel stories on MQ: Valley News, ASTA Travel News, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Tribune.

June 1977:

Misc.: General correspondence; press release on second honeymoons; Mayran letters and invoices to Cincinnati office.

News Clippings: Denver Post, on Blake; San Diego Union, on MQ; Maritime Reporter, Prudential Lines and DQ; San Francisco Examiner, travel story; ad.

July 1977:

Misc.: Information and congressional hearings on waterways users tax (Muster testified); misc. correspondence.

News Clippings: Cincinnati Enquirer, "Waterway Tax Could Torpedo Two Riverboats" and ad agency story.

Aug. 1977:

Misc.: General correspondence; letter to Sullivan explaining situation in DQ management.

News Clippings: Daily Traffic World, "Grand Jury Indicts Garmatz for Bribery"; AP, Garmatz indictment.

Sept. 1977:

Misc.: General correspondence.

News Clippings: Carte Blanche, photo and mention in travel story.

Oct. 1977:

Misc.: General materials and correspondence.

News Clippings: Architectural Record magazine, photo story on MQ; New York Times, photo story on MQ; Wall Street Journal, Hinckley resigns as chairman/director of ONA; ad.

Nov. 1977:

Misc.: General correspondence.

News Clippings: Travel Management Daily, Prudential Lines decides not to purchase DQ Co.; Cincinnati Enquirer, DQ hire new general manager.

Dec. 1977:

Misc.: General correspondence; press release on Donahue show.


Misc.: Correspondence; press releases; DATO nomination of Blake; ad copy, other marketing materials; film scripts; market research interviews.

News Clippings: "Clear Sailing Now for Mississippi Queen"; Cincinnati Enquirer, political cartoon; Travel Agent magazine, MQ/DQ travel information; Design magazine, MQ photo story; ads.


Misc.: Correspondence relating to post card printing; company reports.

News Clippings: Highland Park News magazine supplement, cover photo of DQ; Signature magazine, on Blake; several articles on sale of Delta King; Los Angeles Times, charges dropped against Garmatz; San Bernardino Sun-Telegram,nostalgia of DQ's old days; American Way in-flight magazine, on Blake, MQ; Los Angeles Sentinel, travel column on MQ/DQ with photo.


President Jimmy Carter takes a cruise on the Delta Queen; gives a speech in Hannibal, MO.

Misc.: Correspondence with Robert Mosier, executive vice president and general manager of DQ, regarding Blake's farewell luncheon and resignation in June.

Capt. Ernest Wagner, d. 1979. Former master of the Delta Queen and other ships.

Richard Simonton, d. 1979.

News Clippings: Los Angeles Times: travel story with photo (Jan.), humorous photo on page two (March) of MQ docked at a "no parking" sign, "Carter to Steam Down the Mississippi" (August).


Misc.: General correspondence, Betty Blake & Co. press releases: Capt. Wagner Riverfront Park dedication, Betty Blake [boat] to join festivities at Wagner Riverfront Park; "Coast Guard Recommended No Exemption!" etc.

News Clippings: Kentucky Post, excursion boat renamed the "Betty Blake"; Cincinnati Enquirer, story on excursion boat Betty Blake; other stories on Betty Blake; Cincinnati Post, Coca-Cola selling DQ stock; Datsun Discovery,photo, travel story on MQ; New York Times,travel story on DQ.


Misc.: Betty Blake & Co press release: "Natchez to Kentucky Derby"; misc. correspondence.

News Clippings: Auto Club News,travel brief mention; Republic Scene magazine, "Young Man River," by Steve Shanesy; Welcome to the USA, story on riverboat Betty Blake.


Misc.: All materials related to passing of Betty Blake, including Muster's eulogy for her.

News Clippings: Travel Agent, travel story on MQ, marketing strategies; TravelAge West, steamboat seminar; article on John Hartford. Blake obituaries, including Los Angeles Times, Cincinnati Post, Chicago Tribune, Waterways Journal.


Misc.: Materials related to Betty Blake Foundation; misc. correspondence.

News Clippings: Inside Travel News, story on DQ; Travel Guide, DQ travel story.


News Clippings: Cincinnati Enquirer, editorial on DQ Steamboat Co leaving city; Los Angeles Times special color magazine travel section, story and photos of DQ; Time magazine, "American Scene" section, story on Soviet cosmonaut Georgi Grechko on MQ; St. Louis Dispatch, travel story; Los Angeles Times travel story (1988).


The Muster & Simonton corporate documents index ends here. Find newer information about the history of the Delta Queen on the Legislative and Corporate History Timeline - click here.