Renovations Are Underway On Historic Mississippi River Steamboat

The Delta Queen Has Been In Operation Since 1927

Dave Lawrence (CC-BY-NC-SA)

A historic steamboat called the Delta Queen is a step closer to cruising the Mississippi River again, now that renovations on the boat are underway.

The Delta Queen carried its first passengers in 1927. Since then, it’s served in the Navy, become a hotel, and was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Now, owners are spending $5 million to renovate its hotel rooms and replace the 100-year-old boilers. Congress also has to pass an exemption allowing the wooden steamboat to sail overnight.

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“I think we’ll see more people turn to the river to experience that history, that nostalgia, that whole Mark Twain era,” said Delta Queen Steamboat Company President and CEO Cornel Martin. “To be able to do that from an authentic steamboat is an opportunity we don’t want to lose.”

La Crosse County Historical Society researcher George Italiano said the Delta Queen stops along the riverfront are important economically, since they bring in tourists. He also noted they have historical significance.

“La Crosse was the number one port above St. Louis when steamboats were here. We had the most registered. We had a huge amount of boats going through. We would love to have it back to La Crosse,” he said.

Three overnight river cruises will be stopping in La Crosse this summer, and there could be five next year, including the Delta Queen.