The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Group of Investors Working to Put the Delta Queen back Traveling the Mississippi River

Posted on March 15, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Tourism is one of the promising ways to promote economic development in the Delta. One important example of the potential for tourism in the region is the campaign to save the historic steamboat, the Delta Queen, which may be in the process of making a dramatic comeback. This is one of many issues we will cover at the May 5-6, 2011 Delta conference at the Clinton Center.

Changes in Congress–especially in the new Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, John Micah (R-Florida), who unlike his predecessor is a strong supporter of the Delta Queen–mean that supporters of the Delta Queen are likely to have the votes to pass an exemption needed to alow the boat to continue traveling the Mississippi, Arkansas, Ohio and other major rivers of America’s heartland.

The Delta Queen is now for sale and one group of investors is interested in buying her and resuming her travels on the Mighty Mississippi and its tributaries.

The previous chairman of the House Transportation Committee, former Congressman James Oberstar of Minnesota, had been a staunch supporter of the Delta Queen and voted for the exemption for many years, but for involved political reasons (which we have discussed in detail in previous messages and it need not detain us here) abruptly reversed his position a few years back and used his chairmanship to block the exemption. The historic riverboat has been tied up as a floating hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee since then.

The Delta Grassroots Caucus has worked with many supporters of the Delta Queen all up and down the Mississippi Delta as well as states adjacent to the Ohio River where the Delta Queen used to travel. Vicki Webster leads the Save the Delta Queen 2010 campaign with strong backing from the Delta Grassroots Caucus and she is based in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a superb champion for this historic steamboat.

Should you know of any individuals, organizations or groups of investors who would be interested in joining the group of investors who are currently working to purchase the Delta Queen, please contact me at (202) 360-6347 or, and I can get any parties interested in this investment in communication with the relevant group of investors.

The information about the details of the purchase cannot be publicized because the negotiations are at a sensitive stage. But if there are any investors serious about this investment in the network connected with the Delta Grassroots Caucus, they can contact me and I will get you the appropriate contact information.

Needless to say, I will not profit one penny from this transaction and I am not one of the investors. I just want to help save the Delta Queen.

The Delta Queen used to make money for many years when it was allowed to travel across middle America. Predictably, it has been less successful as a floating hotel, because the purpose of a steamboat and its allure to thousands of tourists over the years was to travel along the Mississippi and its tributaries, enjoying the natural beauty of our region at firsthand, and not to be docked at one port. It stands to reason that if the steamboat used to be financially viable when it traveled but was not successful as a hotel, the logical use for the Delta Queen is to return her to her natural, historic purpose as a means of transportation and tourism.

There is now strong bipartisan support for the Delta Queen. The new chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Mica of Florida, is a longstanding supporter of the Delta Queen, because many people in Florida used to be tourists on the steamboat. The Queen’s chief opponent, Mr. Oberstar, was defeated for re-election. The new Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is from Ohio and thus is familiar with the Delta Queen because it used to travel in his state, and he is another supporter of the Delta Queen.

When President Barack Obama was a US Senator from Illinois, he was naturally a supporter of the Delta Queen, so we expect to have support from the White House.

Extensive regional, national and international media coverage for the Save the Delta Queen 2010 campaign: There are many reasons why the Delta Queen’s cause has won support and media coverage from CNN, Fox, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (which published a fine article on March 14 on this issue), to New Orleans, to Memphis, St. Louis, and on up the Ohio to Cincinnati and beyond, and even in Europe in such prestigious publications as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and the renowned British journal, The Economist:

1) First and foremost, the Delta Queen has an exemplary safety record and is thus a great role model. The riverboat has a steel hull, and tons of wood were also taken out and replaced with steel. The wood that exists in the higher levels of the boat has flame-resistant wood; an intensive system of sprinklers was installed; the crew has been rigorously trained in emergency precautions, and other safety measures have been followed. The Delta Queen was in fact one of the safest boats on the Mississippi when she used to travel.

2) The Delta Queen is often called the Statue of Liberty of middle America and is the last of the great steamboats in the Mark Twain style. The Delta Queen is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

3) Appreciation of the natural beauty of the Mississippi Delta and support for environmental preservation: The experience of having thousands of influential, well-educated and prosperous people traveling along the Mississippi and its tributaries and seeing the natural beauty of these regions promotes a determination to preserve the environment and preserve our natural resources. Eco-tourism is one of the economic development engines for the Delta, so in this case environmentalism and economic development reinforce each other.

4) The Delta Queen injects tourist dollars in places like New Orleans, Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, Memphis, Tennessee, in Missouri up to St. Louis and beyond, along the Ohio to Cincinnati and other destinations, and other sites across America’s heartland. When a substantial number of prosperous tourists stop off at a community like Helena-West Helena, they provide much-needed dollars for communities that are impoverished and can use every extra penny they get.

5) Unforeseen development consequences: When tourists travel the Mississippi, some may choose to invest in our region. To give an example, some years ago a wealthy lady from outside the region was enchanted by the beauty of Helena-West Helena and its “Gone With the Wind” ambience in some of the fine old houses there, and decided to invest in major bed and breakfast and other business opportunities. No one can predict how often that kind of experience can take place, but the travels of the Queen are conducive to such beneficial investments.

6) The Queen’s historic contributions during World War II: During World War II the Delta Queen served at various times in ferrying troops in San Francisco Bay for the United States Navy, as a barracks, and later was used as an emergency hospital transport. After World War II the boat traveled from California through the Panama Canal to the Mississippi River.

7) This is a BIPARTISAN EFFORT: While it is true that the former Democratic chair of the House Transportation Committee was an adamant opponent of the Delta Queen and the new Republican chair of that committee is a staunch supporter of the Delta Queen is a strong supporter of the Delta Queen, in general there are supporters of the historic steamboat from both parties.

Let us give four examples from comments in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article by Jane Fullerton published on March 14, 2011, with two comments from Democrats and two from Republicans. Also, please understand that the only reason we cite Members of Congress from Arkansas is that this was an Arkansas newspaper article, and there are many Congressional supporters of the Delta Queen from all eight Delta states. Moreover, there are supporters of the Delta Queen in Congress from all eight states and for space reasons we cannot quote all of them.

Congressman Mike Ross (D-Arkansas): “The Delta Queen represents a rich part of American history and serves as a reminder of the times of Mark Twain and steamboat dominance in the United States. Allowing the Delta Queen to travel up and down the Mississippi River with passengers will help re-invigorate tourism and create jobs in the Delta region, including here in Arkansas.”

Congressman Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas): and a member of the House Transportation Committee): “It is pivotal in these economic times to create an environment where small businesses can operate successfully. The Delta Queen is a perfect example of how overregulation by the government is hindering economic growth.”

Senator Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas, Arkansas’ senior senator): Sen. Pryor emphasized that “boats like (the Delta Queen) are good for tourism.” Senator Pryor is noted for working in a bipartisan way for the development of Arkansas and the entire region.

Senator John Boozman (R-Arkansas): “This structure is so important for the people of our country to experience. It takes us back to the early days of our country and lets us experience how early Americans traveled.”

Please continue to support the Delta Queen. In particular, as stated above, if you know of any investors who might wish to join in the effort to purchase the Delta Queen and get her traveling on the Mississippi again, please contact Lee Powell at 202-360-6347 or Thank you very much–Lee Powell, executive director, Delta Grassroots Caucus