Save the Delta Queen
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Save the Delta Queen Campaign News
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On Jan 25, 2008, at 2:51 PM, Tacie Campbell wrote:

Nori, is there any progress in keeping the Delta Queen in business? I haven't heard anything lately.

Hi Tacie - Here is the latest. I was just getting ready to post this:

Hello Patrick Houze,

Thank you for your letter. My latest news page is so jumbled up, I'm surprised more people don't write to ask me what the heck is going on. As it stands now, the respective chairmen of the transportation committees in the House and Senate have decided not to bring the Delta Queen exemption to the floor. They say it is because the boat is unsafe, but the boat has always been exempt from this law because it does not go to sea (as in Safety at SEA Law). The boat's license to operate proves it is safe. Still, because the current exemption expires in November, this could be the boat's last year of operation.

We think what happened is that when Ambassador bought the boat in 2006, they dismissed the SIU workers. The union claims the boat cannot operate safely without union engineers, pilots, deck hands, etc., so that made the Coast Guard (now part of Homeland Security) say the boat is not safe, then the Coast Guard told the legislators, and the legislators say "no exemption."

If we could get them all on the same page - Ambassador / Majestic, SIU, Coast Guard, House and Senate - then the boat would get the exemption for sure. That might involve bringing SIU workers back to the Delta Queen, American Queen, and Mississippi Queen, boats they were always on before 2006.

The best thing we can do is tell our U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators we care about the boat and want it to stay in operation. We also need to tell the media, so write to your editors, local TV stations, and tell them you want news about the Delta Queen situation.

On Jan 25, 2008, at 2:21 PM, Patrick Houze wrote:

Hello, I have been on the website and I'm still confused.

What is the Queens status? Is she going to cease operations this fall? I really hope that something can be worked out. I grew up watching the Queen make her trips up and down the Ohio and really would like to share this experience with my daughter.

There is a lot of speculation on the web, and it appears that this site would be the place to find out the answers.

Patrick Houze

Here is a prototype resolution for cities and organizations. You are welcome to modify it to suit your concerns and objectives of your organization. If you pass a resolution, please send in your city or organization's name so we can add you to the list.


WHEREAS: the Safety of Life at Sea Laws were intended to apply to vessels that carry passengers on the open ocean, hundreds of miles from shore and;

WHEREAS: the Steamer Delta Queen does not go to sea, is never out of sight of land, and is never more than minutes from a safe emergency landing site and;

WHEREAS: actuarial societies and fire-fighters have long recognized that although wood does burn, in a fire it remains structurally sound longer than many non-combustible materials, including steel and;

WHEREAS: the Delta Queen is equipped throughout with the latest fire-fighting equipment, including an automatic sprinkler system, a CO2 fire-suppression system, smoke and heat detectors in every room, and fire extinguishers throughout and;

WHEREAS: the Delta Queen has an inherently safe design, with most rooms opening directly onto exterior decks and the remainder only 20 to 30 steps from outdoor exits and;

WHEREAS: dedicated watchmen using a key-station system patrol the Delta Queen from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., making a complete circuit of the boat every 20 minutes and;

WHEREAS: the Delta Queen's entire crew is trained by professional fire-fighting consultants and drilled at least weekly in fire-fighting and lifeboat techniques and;

WHEREAS: the Delta Queen has an exemplary safety record over a period of more than 80 years and;

WHEREAS: the Delta Queen provides employment for crew members, onboard entertainers, and onshore professional and support staff and;

WHEREAS: people come from all over this country and abroad to ride the Delta Queen, bringing valuable income and tax revenues to the towns and cities she visits and;

WHEREAS: the Delta Queen played an important role in the defense of our nation during World War II and;

WHEREAS: the Delta Queen is an irreplaceable American treasure: the last traditional steamboat carrying overnight passengers on our inland waterways and;

WHEREAS: because the Delta Queen is the last working example of the steamboats that helped open the American West and changed the world forever, she has been designated a National Historic Landmark,

THEREFORE: we [. . . .] hereby resolve that the Delta Queen shall be permanently exempted from the Rules and Regulations of the Safety of Life at Sea Laws.

In response to the types of statements I posted below, the Seafarers Union International issued this statement last November.

SIU statement on Delta Queen (11/9/2008)

The Seafarers International Union recently has been subjected to erroneous attacks in certain newspapers and on the internet concerning renewal of a waiver for operation of the passenger boat Delta Queen.

It's time for us to refute those lies.

First, it is ludicrous - and perhaps even slanderous - to suggest that the SIU or any other union either could or would guarantee congressional action on the proposed waiver. That accusation is flat-out false, contrary to what has appeared in print and on line.

We indeed met with Majestic America Line to discuss the Delta Queen. However, our position simply was (and remains) that we make every effort to assist our contracted companies, though certainly not at the expense of safety. In this case, we believed we potentially - and we underscore potentially - could help present a persuasive argument concerning the waiver because the SIU has the only viable case for its continuation. This union has the only pool of unlicensed mariners with special training and a long history of meeting the needs specifically associated with the Delta Queen. Our role in helping safely operate the vessel is one reason why the waiver had been granted in years past.

That is a far cry from guaranteeing anything.

Additionally and again in contrast to public claims by the company, at no time did the SIU demand or even request recognition for employment aboard all of Majestic's vessels. Our interest centered on the original three "Queens" - Delta, Mississippi and American - that the SIU had crewed for years.

We have remained silent until now, even resisting the easy target that is Majestic's recent safety record, but we cannot in good conscience allow the continued smearing of our names along with those of Senator Inouye and Congressman Oberstar.

read original

Photos of the Delta Queen and towns it visited in October 2007, including Tuscaloosa, Demopolis, Decatur, and Columbus.

Interested people, people from river front projects, and small towns along the Western Rivers are urged to contact Nori Muster to talk about the Delta Queen's situation - click here.

The Delta Queen is a National Historic Landmark, registered with the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Here is their Statement of Significance:

The sternwheel river steamboat Delta Queen, an operating vessel on the Western Rivers, is one of only two sternwheel river passenger boats operating under steam and is the sole remaining Western Rivers overnight passenger boat.[1] Such boats were the epitome of service on the rivers they served and were well known among river people. Delta Queen was built to operate on the Sacramento River in California. In later years she served as a yard ferryboat for the U.S. Navy in the Second World War, and made a hazardous voyage under tow from California, through the Panama Canal, to the Mississippi where she was reconditioned for work on the Western Rivers system. Today Delta Queen is the best known riverboat on the Western Rivers. She carries passengers on nearly the entire Western Rivers system and serves as a reminder of the time when steamboats carried the people and supplies that opened the West.

To read original click here.

Preservation Nation
Historic preservation news, networking, and know-how
Bill May Save 82-Year-Old Steamboat
by Margaret Foster on January 14th, 2008

This could be the last year that the 1926 steamboat Delta Queen, the country's last overnight paddle-wheel steamboat, will operate on America's rivers, thanks to the U.S. Congress.

Last July, for the first time in 37 years, Congress rejected Seattle-based owner Majestic America Line's request to waive the vessel from the Safety of Life at Sea Act, which restricts overnight guests to 50 rather than the boat's capacity of 164. It would have been the boat's seventh exemption from the 1966 act.

Now Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) is proposing a bill that would exempt the 285-foot-long steamboat, docked in New Orleans, from the act and keep it on the water for another 10 years.

Read the rest of this article - click here

A Lesson in How Rumors Get Started

Did you hear that the folks at were planning to buy the Delta Queen? I didn't either, but apparently the rumor has been making the rounds. This led Franz Neumeier, webmaster of, to post a disclaimer at his Save the Delta Queen site,

Don't get excited! The new home port in Munich is just a spoof!!!

Now, here's another rumor for you! (Hint - we don't even have rivers here big enough for a steamboat!)

Save the Queen campaign losing steam?
[Editor's Note: This is an untrue statement, but here is the article.]
By Ben Hillyer (Contact) | The Natchez Democrat
Published Friday, January 4, 2008
read original

Mark Twain once said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

The famed satirist and steamboat captain loved to spin stories. With his keen wit and incisive satire, Twain became a hugely popular celebrity with his colloquial tales of life in the 19th century.

Twain and his aphorism about history's ability to rhyme came to mind Thursday when a newsletter from the Save the Delta Queen organization crossed my desk.

Twain could certainly spin a good story about the Delta Queen's past 30 years and it current predicament.

On Nov. 8, the steamboat's red paddle wheel will slowly lurch to a stop, its calliope will play its last tune and another era in boating on the Mississippi River will come to an end.

Unless Congress intervenes, the boat will be decommissioned because her exemption from a 1966 Safety at Sea law will expire.

The law prohibits overnight passenger service on boats that are primarily constructed of wood. Congress enacted the law in response to a tragic fire where 90 lives were lost on a boat in the Caribbean in 1965. As a result, the Corps of Engineers decided there would be no wood on vessels flying the American flag that carried 50 or more passengers overnight. Without the current exemption from Congress, the boat will no longer be able to offer overnight cruises.

So, on Oct. 31 the Delta Queen will leave Memphis, Tenn., to make its last voyage down the Mississippi to its final docking in New Orleans.

Amazingly, we have been down this river before.

On Nov. 2, 1970, the docks along Poydras Street were packed with those who came to say goodbye to the paddle wheeler. According to accounts, the event was a grand spectacle filled with flashing camera bulbs, speeches from dignitaries and broadcasts from television crews to the rest of the world.

It was the end of the steamboat era and the Delta Queen would be sent out in style.

According to news reports, the scene in New Orleans was typical from the steamboat's start in St. Paul, Minn.

As reported in Heritage American magazine: "The word had spread that the 40-year-old steamboat, with her wooden superstructure, stood condemned."

"They lined the banks at LaCrosse, at Prairie du Chien, Dubuque, Clinton, Davenport and her sister city Rock Island, Burlington, Nauvoo, Hannibal (where Mark Twain grew up watching steamboats), St. Louis, Memphis - at every stop.)"

Clutching signs that said, "Save the Queen," multitudes stood chanting as "When the Saints go marching in" echoed off the banks of the Mississippi.

Accounts in Vicksburg said the captain joked that the reception was so tearful that the Yazoo River rose half a foot that day - an exaggeration rivaling some of Mark Twain's if I ever heard one.

Pictures from Natchez show children waving "We'll Miss You Delta Queen" signs from Natchez Under-the-Hill.

The steamboat company that owned the boat estimated that nearly a quarter of a million wrote letters or signed petitions to keep the boat afloat.

Still, on that early November day many had assumed the end for the Delta Queen had come.

That was until an amendment was quietly added to an anonymous bill to give the boat an extension. The extension passed.

Now, some 38 years later, the extension is set to expire.

Once again petition signatures are being collected and letters are being written to congressmen to save the boat.

Will another final cruise down the Mississippi gain public support the magnitude of 1970s final cruise? I am not so sure.

Unfortunately, years have passed and the popularity of the historic riverboats may have waned a bit.

According to Web site, a little more than 1,000 signatures had been collected on Dec. 3.

If history is to repeat itself, or even rhyme as Twain once claimed, it will take much more support than that to save the boat from being decommissioned from overnight voyages.

Ben Hillyer is the web editor for The Democrat.

My letter to the editor after talking to him:

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your Jan. 4 article by Ben Hillyer on the plight of the the Delta Queen. Rest assured that the steamboat community loves the boat just as much as they ever did and we are actively seeking the answer to how to keep it running on the rivers. During the campaign of 1970, my father Bill Muster, president of Greene Line Steamers, and vice-president Betty Blake took the issue to the U.S. Congress and it was the voice of the People that kept the boat running for another thirty-eight years. We want to do the same this year. Think a positive thought for the old vessel, because she may pull through after all. Write to your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators and tell them how much the boat means to you.

Nori J. Muster
Phoenix, AZ

22 January 2008
A Resolution

Be it Resolved by the Pray for Peace Foundation that

Whereas; The Steamboat Delta Queen has been in operation since 1947 as a pleasure boat on the Western Rivers, visiting St. Paul, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and all destinations along that route, and

Whereas; The Delta Queen is the last of the historic Steamboats offering cruises to the mid-West and Southern American states, and

Whereas; The Delta Queen is the most beloved Paddle Wheel Steamboat offering cruises in America, and

Whereas; the Delta Queen crew and passengers wish the boat to continue in its service as an overnight passenger boat, and

Whereas; giving the boat its exemption is within the Divine Will, because the boat is a symbol of what is good about our country,

Be it now Resolved in prayer that the Seafarers International Union, Ambassador / Majestic America, the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, House of Representatives, and U.S. Senate, all do their part to keep the Delta Queen in operation, so that many future generations may enjoy a real Steamboat from an era long gone by.

Decreed and accepted on this Tuesday, the twenty-second day of January 2008. Signed: Nori J. Muster, on behalf of Pray for Peace Foundation, at

There have been encouraging developments in the campaign to save the Delta Queen. Although I cannot elaborate here, please hold the space for a good 2008 for the old boat.

Other news: there are two steamboat calendars to choose from, one published by the Historic Sternwheeler Preservation Society (HSPS), and the other by a photographer who loves the Delta Queen. For ordering information, and to see the calendar photos, click here and scroll down. Editor's Note: As of Dec. 28, only seven calendars are left. Order soon to get this collectors' item. The HSPS calendars will be gone soon, too.

There is another collectors item, to mark what will prove to be a historic year for the Delta Queen. Mayor John Lewis has minted a limited edition of commemorative coins. To see the coins and order, click here and scroll down.

That is the latest, as of the eve of Christmas, 2007.

Also, a warm welcome to my real estate customers, and friends and relatives who followed the links from my holiday card to The world of online steamboating includes Delta Queen fans, genealogists, students, archivists, model builders, and many interesting people. To see the online steamboat museum, click here. To see my other website,, click here. More Save the Delta Queen info., including links to articles, resolutions, and other news - click here.

Other Steamboat News

Letter from Dave Smith:

I'm looking for information about the T. V. Arrowsmith, a steam powered ferry built around 1860 in New Jersey. The Arrowsmith ran a route from Peck Slip Station in Manhattan to Glen Cove on Long Island Sound from about 1861 through the 1870's. The Arrowsmith was replaced on the run by the ill fated Sewanhaka. It ended up as a riverboat on the Potomac through the early 1900's.

The Arrowsmith was leased by the New York Militia in the early years of the Civil War to transport supplies to Virginia and bring the wounded back to New York. There are several stories in the Glen Cove Gazette of the time but very little detail other than the Captain was Charles Post and the use of the ship by the military was a bit of an inconvenience to the denizens of Glen Cove.

I have a family story that my great great grandfather Stephen B Smith served as a pilot on the Arrowsmith during the war, but no additional details.

I'd appreciate it if someone could give me some advice on where I might look for records regarding the use of ferries by the military during the Civil War and if there are crew records recorded anywhere.

Dave Smith email

Letter from Maunsel White:

My great grandfather was Capt. John William Tobin who owned, captained, managed, clerked, or partnered on 60+ lower Mississippi steamboats between the 1850's and 1880's. I am presently renewing the long term loan of several pieces of furniture and silver from Tobin boats JM White and JF Pargoud to the Historic New Orleans Collection. My father , in the 1950's , sold other pieces of furniture and silver to the Jefferson Historical Society Museum in St Louis. I maintain an interest in tracking Tobin boat artifact whereabouts as well as any historical or family information

I have collected a great deal of information, historical and genealogical, on Tobin and would be happy to share with interested parties. Please use the e-mail below to contact me.

- Maunsel White email

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