Down the Mississippi: recession forces legendary steamboats off the river (video)

14th July 2009, 14:01
This year, there are no river boats offering Mississippi cruises that come with night cabins and last more than a few hours.

It was in 1811 that the New Orleans, the first steamboat in western waters, was piloted down the Mississippi. For nearly two centuries, steamboats plied the waters from St Paul, Minnesota down to New Orleans. During the late 19th Century, there were some 10,000 of them.

But the last remaining successors of the storied vessels that Twain, himself a riverboat pilot, immortalised in his 1883 work Life on the Mississippi, are now out of commission and may never again leave their berths.

The Delta Queen, a wooden boat built in 1927, used by three presidents and declared an American national monument, has been towed off the Mississippi and is tied up in Chattanooga, where it is being used as a hotel.

Its sister ship the Mississippi Queen, built to commemorate the bicentennial of the United States in 1976, is tied up in New Orleans, where it has been stripped down and left to molder and be looted.


14th July 2009, 14:38
very sad. We did a trip on Natchez last month, she takes 1600 passengers but has never had over night accomadation. her steam engines were 50 years old when installed about 30 years ago. the calliope is wonderful. as people fly less perhaps these vessels will find new passengers