Sunday, February 1st, 2009
The Delta Queen has not gotten her exemption, I’m sad to report.
People are still working to keep the last all-wood paddlewheel steamboat cruising on the Mississippi, but for now, she’s moving to Chattanooga where she will remain docked and be used as a floating hotel.
In October, the mostly wooden boat — the last of its kind — lost its exemption to operate overnight river cruises for up to 176 passengers.
Federal law prohibits such boats from carrying more than 50 overnight passengers.
The boat was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989, but the exemption to continue operations requires annual renewal.
Critics have objected to the exemption, saying that the boat was a fire hazard and that its crew should be unionized.
For the record, there has never been a fire on the Delta Queen, and it has been fully retrofitted to be in compliance with all safety regulations.
This is the first I’ve read about the union issue, but I’m not sure why that would keep her from being granted the exemption she’s received every year since 1968.
The paddlewheel steamboat is a great part of Mississippi culture, thanks to the likes of Mark Twain and Showboat. Here’s hoping the Queen gets her exemption and returns to full service.
For more beautiful pictures and to get a detailed view of the cruise that is no more, see Shawn Dake’s blog of his trip on the Delta Queen.