Evansville cruise report

Report from John: Just got back from the 2:30PM brunch cruise...it was great!! I've been on the Natchez in N.O., but never got to ride her. I have now cruised on all six of the steamboats.

My kids really enjoyed the cruise. My two daughters were dancing to the calliope music for the short time it played and both really enjoyed watching the paddlewheel and getting wet from it's spray. I was pleasantly surprised by the fairly large crowd for the cruise. I was also surprised at the access to the engine room and other areas for passengers. That is a rare treat since 9/11.

Anyhow, just wanted to say the trip was great as was the boat and crew. I am back at work now and listening to the calliope as they prepare to board for the 7:30PM cruise.

franzneumeier | November 7, 2005

Just what they needed!

On this Hurricane Relief Tour, the Natchez just encountered a tornado as she was in the Evansville harbor. The brunt of the storm was upriver, heading toward Newburgh, but the hail and high winds forced them to drop on downriver some before landing in Evansville. All is well on the boat, but the community was hit hard in several places, so business may not be what it could have been. They have no cruises scheduled today. There was a delay at the Newburgh lock, two actually, one to gain lockage and a second to wait for a windblown tow to straighten out away from the exit. This may have been for the best, as otherwise she would have already been secured to the LST and would have received a lot more wind and hail.

judy | November 6, 2005

Enroute to Evansville

Report from Matthew Graham, oiler on the Str Natchez: We are currently enroute to Evansville, Indiana. We set out this morning from Louisville a little after 6am. I must say I was sad to leave as is the rest of the crew. We recieved such a warm welcome from all of the people there. But we must travel on. This morning we were privileged to a beautiful Kentucky sunrise that really made the bright orange red and yellow leaves glow. I've never seen anything like that before. So far we've made two locks and are currently passing what I am told to be the Owensboro Riverport at 9:15pm. Capt Nichoulin says we should make Evansville around 1am. we look forward to our next stop and I can't say how proud I am to work for such a unique company. We thank all of you folks for your help and support and we'll see y'all down the river.

franzneumeier | November 6, 2005

Leftovers from Louisville

N.O. Steamboat Co. President Gordon Stevens has been with the boat since Cincinnati. He, Capt. Don, and others took in the Howard Steamboat Museum Friday. Calliope Keith just happened to be there with Dave Tschiggfrie, so the visiting Natchez group got a basement-to-attic tour of the mansion. Gordon did take time out this week to visit Cincinnati and finalize the contract for Tall Stacks. One of the main reasons the Natchez has never participated is that October is the busiest month for conventions and charters in NOLA. Obviously this business will still be down next year, so its the perfect chance to be a part of Tall Stacks. Dave T. came over from Dubuque Iowa and stayed at the Norrington B&B. He got voluminous amounts of video of his host at the keyboard, from all reports. I did have the chance to hear a bit of Keith's playing, as Capt. Don phoned me during the boarding concert Thursday. Keith reports that Ken and Susie have the Gift Shop stuffed with goodies, so if anyone is yet to cruise, bring some extra cash for Natchez souvenirs. I suspect the Louisville Slugger Bat race trophy was the work of Ann Jewell, who when working for the Belle, coauthored that wonderful Belle book with Capt. Kevin Mullen. Ann is now the executive director of the Louisville Slugger Museum in downtown Louisville.

judy | November 5, 2005

Natchez wins again!

Frank Prudent reports from Louivsille, photo by Jim Reising.

The NATCHEZ this past evening kept her fine distinction of never having lost a race with another steamboat, or diesel boat for that matter. This twilight event had the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE taking the early lead, but soon being overtaken by the fleet NATCHEZ.

This race will long be remembered as being a photographers delight with a crimson and blue sky for the backdrop and mild temperatures as these two great steamboats battled it out for the coveted Louisville Slugger Baseball Bat trophy, a new symbol of river supremacy!

Capt. Alan Bernstein, Capt. Alan Bates, and Ann Jewell were the somewhat sober judges who gave the nod to the NATCHEZ as being the uncontested winner of this spectacular. I might add that an aura of controversy does surround this extravaganza though! Several notable steamboat officers long associated with the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE were seen onboard the NATCHEZ before and reportably during the race. Chief Jim McCoy, Capt. Pete O'Connell, and Capt. Mike Fitzgerald all freely admit to having been there although their reasons why have not been divulged. While on the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE the NATCHEZ's alternate master Capt. Don Houghton was seen coercing the BELLE's calliope player to render "The Bonnie Blue Flag" on the steam and iron piano.

On the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE Capt. Mark Doty was captain, Capt. Kevin Mullen represented the office along with the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE's new C.E.O. Linda Harris, Capt. Jamie Donahough, pilot and Chief Steve Mattingly, engineer. Also seen aboard the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE was Capt. Angela Shakelford the first mate of the DELTA QUEEN; she was enjoying just being a steamboat passenger before she returns to the DELTA QUEEN on Thursday. The BELLE truly is the little boat that thinks she can, she thinks she can...

Captain Robert J. Hammett and Chief Bill Prudent were there in spirit. Sic transit gloria mundi.

franzneumeier | November 3, 2005


Honorary Captain

As I noted earlier I took my daughter Alainah on the Natchez last Sunday. When I arrived to pick her up I asked her if she remembered where we were going. \"On the NATCHEZ, and she is a real steamboat!\" she said as she jumped up and down. She sure was excited. As she walked the decks and even toured the engineroom I could see her wonder and awe of the boat. Daddy I want to go to the Captains room! Captain Don was so gratious to take us up to the wheelhouse. Alainah wanted to sit in the \"Big Chair\" and take a picture but was shy. Capt. Don said, after we dock bring her up and then we will take a picture. As you can see by the photos she was excited to do so. Captain Don even made her an honorary Captain and she has a certificate to prove it! Captain Don was so friendly and accomodating and it just reminded me of how family oriented and caring the New Orleans Steamboat Company and crew of the NATCHEZ and JJA are. After all isn\'t that what it is all about? Last night I talked to Captain Don on the eve of the race against the Belle of Louisville and he told me how The other officers, Capt. Steve Nichoulin, Capt. Steve Villier and Mate Bob Heyn were all spending time with family. He mentioned how Gordon Stevens (President) has been so caring and occomodating toward the crew and their families that it just warmed my heart. Again I thank Capt. Don, both Capt. Steves, Mate Heyn and Gordon Stevens for their big hearts and for touching my heart as well as your new Honory Captain, my daughter Alainah Wirtjes. Thank all from Christopher Wirtjes.

christopher | November 2, 2005

Natchez arrived at Louisville

Keith Norrington reports: The Str. Natchez came "round the bend" at Six Mile Island around 6:30 P.M. Tuesday evening and steamed down through the Louisville harbor with grace and grandeur. Aglow in lights, she rounded to on a dime, blew a landing whistle (in the cool night air those whistle blasts were wonderfully spine tingling!) and with Capt. Bert Suarez in the pilothouse and Capt. Steve Nichoulin on the bow, landed as perfectly as a kitten and was all fast at 7:00 P.M. Capt. Pete O'Connell, of the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE, caught the headline and Kadie Engstrom, longtime member of the BELLE crew/staff was there along with my parents and me. Several of the local television stations showed up and there was good footage on the newscasts last night and this morning. I was happy to visit briefly with Capt. Don Houghton and Mate Bobby Heyn, whom I haven't seen in quite some time. I'll be heading down there this afternoon (leaving my office at noon) to play the cally-ope for the race with the BELLE this evening and for the trips tomorrow. Perfessor Travis will preside at the steam organ on Friday, but I've purchased tickets for Friday and I'll be there to visit with friends and to do whatever I possibly can to help in any way.

franzneumeier | November 2, 2005

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