Delta Queen riverboat visits Greenville

Published 2:38 pm Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Delta Queen, a more than three-quarter-century-old riverboat, will be in Mississippi this week with its sister ship, the Mississippi Queen, to kick off a series of events commemorating the ship’s possible last stop in the Magnolia state.

The Delta Queen has been making trips on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers since 1948.

Former Greenville Mayor Paul Artman was set Sunday to lead the ships’ passengers on a tour of Washington County that included visits to Leland’s Kermit the Frog Museum.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“This is a chance for the Delta Queen to say ’thank you’ to communities like Greenville that have welcomed her for so many years,” the ship’s historian Bill Weimuth said.

The Delta Queen hasn’t been to Greenville since 2004. There was a time when the Delta Queen and other boats like it were frequent visitors to the city. Cruise ships used to stop in Greenville between five and eight times a year in the early 1980s, Artman said.

The Delta Queen has been making fewer trips down the Mississippi River in recent years, and this year’s farewell tour, which started in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Oct. 21, will end in New Orleans on Nov. 7. The riverboat will visit Vicksburg and Natchez before heading to Louisiana.

Federal law prohibits boats with wooden superstructures like the Delta Queen’s from hosting overnight passengers, out of safety concerns.

Congress has exempted the Delta Queen from this rule for more than 40 years, but the most recent exemption expired this year, and it has yet to be renewed.

Supporters of the ship lament the thought that the Delta Queen may never pass through the Delta again.

“I surely hope that it is not their last run,” said Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson. “Without a doubt, the Delta Queen voyages down the Mississippi River are a display of Mississippi history that spans generations.”