A SMALL TRIBUTE TO A GREAT LADY


| July/August 1971



Delta Queen steam boat

Front view of the majestic Delta Queen. Courtesy of Ted Knack, 1545 Tenth Avenue East, St. Paul Park, Minnesota 55071.

Ted Knack

1545 Tenth Avenue, St. Paul Park, Minnesota

On October twenty-first a great lady passed our town on the Mississippi River heading for St. Paul. I am speaking of the Delta Queen; that big paddle wheel steam boat that has plied the rivers of the United States for forty years. Now maybe a lot of you Iron-Man readers have never seen the Delta Queen, but I am sure that most of us steam engine fans have heard of her.

She carried many tourists on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, making trips that were five days or more, from New Orleans all the way to St. Paul and from Cinn. on the Ohio, to St. Louis, Missouri. It was the last overnight passenger steam boat on the inland waterways. You probably think, what is so special about the Delta Queen to the river? To many people who live near the river the Delta Queen is like a steam traction engine was to the men who ran them. The Delta Queen to me is like a steam traction engine is to a steam engineer, or the railroad steam engine was to the men who ran them. The Delta Queen to me is the greatest of the steamers that used to move on the rivers before the coming of the diesel engine.

Many times I have gone down to Lambert Landing in St. Paul to see the Delta Queen on its arrival. I have been fortunate to go aboard and see how well the Queen is made the Teak and Mahogany woodwork and the brass that just shines and shines. The big paddle wheel that pushes the Queen through the water and the calliope playing music by steam power makes this a sight to see. I have never been able to see the Delta Queen running on the river. I always was working when it went by, but this trip was going to be different. It was departing St. Paul at 8:00 pm on the twenty-second and I was in great anticipation to see it moving on the river.

This trip was special too. It was the last time the Delta Queen would be coming to St. Paul. Congress would not give the Queen an extension on a safety law that they passed which prohibits vessels with wooden structures to carry passengers overnight. The Queen has a steel structured hull, but its super structure is wood. How Congress ever included the Delta Queen in the safety at sea law I don't know, but November 2, 1970 was the last day it was allowed to run on the river as an overnight passenger steamer.

On the day She arrived I told the wife to have an early supper and we would take the kids to see the Delta Queen. As we came near the landing I could see that a lot of people had come to see the Queen, just as I was doing. In fact, it was so crowded it reminded me of some of the steam engine shows we had gone to the past year; many people coming to see something of the past. After driving one half hour to find a parking place and not finding one, the wife and I decided we would go home and try the next night when it departs for what would be its last time in St. Paul.