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Mississippi Queen memories.............

Posted 11-03-2008 at 08:52 AM by Tim Miller
I returned this past weekend to New Orleans for the first time in over 25 years. I played the typical tourist and took a ride on the steamboat Natchez for a glimpse of the city and to partially re-live the memories of when I worked and lived upon the MQ a lifetime ago. I was shocked and saddened to hear from the narrator of the demise of the MQ and even had sight of her in the distance as she sat broken down at a wharf on the West Bank.
You see, I was a charter member of the Mississippi Queen way back in 1976. I was fresh out of high school and had worked with Ron Marcou and Peggy Driessen at the local Holiday Inn in northwest Ohio. They, in turn, became the first chief purser and head housekeeper, respectively, and I was hired by them to become a first job away from home. Several months were spent in Louisville, KY at Jeffboat Shipyards as we readied the ship with our small 'family' of newly hired staff. I remember SEVERAL 'maiden voyages' that year as the boat suffered many mechanical problems, but was assured that we were just getting 'the bugs out'...... That winter, most of the staffed was laid off as the boat was put into drydock at Avondale Shipyard, but I was retained along with a skeleton crew. We worked on board during the day to profide upkeep to the vessel, then were shipped to seedy motels up and down the West Bank to live at night......what an existance! Several months later, we set sail again. I stayed with the housekeeping department that first season, then moved on to the restaurant to work under the great Ben Keith who was maitre'd at that time. I continued to work seasonally during the summers for the next 3 years during my break from college. Many photo albums are filled with memories of all of the great times I had during those years from New Orleans to St. Louis to Minneapolis to Cincinnati....... I had always hoped that sometime in my life, I would be able to see the MQ, once again, in her majestic form as I so remembered. Unfortunately, that was not the case, as I saw and heard, yesterday.
Total Comments 3



What a sad story this is for not only the MISSISSIPPI QUEEN, but overnight steamboating in general. I really hope you will post some of your pictures on this blog, as I would love to see some of her earlier days. Plus posting them here saves them for posterities sake, that is to say, your dreams and experiences live on through them being here for all to see.

Like you, I worked several seasons on the MQ (much later in the vessels life albeit...but I was there) and enjoyed them alot! On the 28th of November 2006 when we laid her up, we all believed the winter was just a time for a facelift for the MQ and would have never believed the new owner, Majestic America Line would have abused the boat as they have. We felt convinced she would come out as the new flagship of the fleet, as the luxury boat.

Now there is nothing left but a rusting rotting hulk at Perry Street. The other boats are hours from arriving at New Orleans with a possibly similar fate.

There is always hope someone will rescue them all. And I hope to be on the deck of them all when whom ever this is makes it happen!

Who knows, you may be there, too! After 8 years of steamboating on the DELTA QUEEN, MISSISSIPPI QUEEN, and AMERICAN QUEEN (preceeded by 14 years on the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE)...I can't say it is a bad place to a matter of fact, they were the best years of my life!

Posted 11-03-2008 at 10:57 AM by inactive user 02 inactive user 02 is offline
Updated 11-03-2008 at 10:59 AM by inactive user 02 (Misspelling)
hey Tim I started on the MQ in late 76 as well and remember Marcou and Ben Keith. I was a deckhand and Dave Williamson was head deckhand. Carl Shelton was Capt. and Jim Blum was relief Cap'n. Dick Weber was mate. Dennis Shenk was 2nd electrican.
Posted 11-03-2008 at 11:17 AM by mel hartsough mel hartsough is offline
It is sad that any boat has to die. The worst thing is to see a boat as great as the Mississippi Queen lie tied to a warf and rust away in obscurity. while her older sister the Delta Queen becomes a floating hotel that is again too small to serve this duty, when not 2 blocks away you can stay at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. The Mississippi would have been better suited for this due to it is larger and has more to offer as a hotel. As for the Delta Queen it should be returned to her original configuration and start making day cruises to the river cities like the Bell of Louisville. I envy the ones who have traveled and worked on the Mississippi Queen, as it truely was the realization of Samuel Clemmons vision of riverboat life. It is just sad to see these majestic boats and the river adventures fall into obscurity.
Posted 10-16-2009 at 04:24 PM by ed frazier ed frazier is offline
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