Hey, Donald Trump signed a law that I’m excited about!
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The AP reports that the president yesterday signed legislation allowing the historic Delta Queen riverboat to once again cruise American rivers. The bipartisan measure was co-sponsored by Missouri senators Claire McCaskill (D) and Roy Blunt (R).
Built in 1926, the 176-passenger sternwheel steamboat offered river cruises for decades until ceasing operations in 2008. The boat, designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1989, spent some time as a boutique hotel in Chattanooga, and is now docked in Houma, La., where it is being refurbished to operate as a passenger boat again (see video above, from a few years ago, when the project was first underway).
For the last decade, the Delta Queen has not been allowed to cruise because its special exemption from the 1966 Safety at Sea Act — which prohibited overnight excursions on vessels with wooden superstructures — had expired. The McCaskill-Blunt legislation will provide a new exemption, provided that the boat make certain safety modifications.
I’m not an expert on nautical policy so I am just trusting that the Missouri senators did their due diligence on the safety front.
The Delta Queen is set to cruise the Arkansas River in 2020, once renovations are complete, as well as the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland, and Kanawha.
I still remember going to see the now-defunct Mississippi Queen cruise down the Cumberland River in Nashville when I was in high school on a little school trip. My gym teacher was confused by the famous Mermaid Sisters that topped the boat. “There they are,” he commented. “The Mississippi queens. Nekkid, ain’t they? Nekkid as jaybirds.” The ship was sold for scrap in 2009. The Mermaid Sisters were lost for a time but recovered by a riverboat enthusiast and restored.
Anyway, riverboats are great, looking forward to the Delta Queen’s return.