With this news, several ideas come to mind to preserve the boat in some way. I am not a legal expert, so bear with me. Need opinions if they are feasible or not.

1- See if the legislature could still grant the exemption. This would open up the possibility of another owner to keep operational status. In other words, a new DQ Steamboat Co.

2- Could not the boat be declared by Congress to be a Historic Monument? This would further protect the vessel beyond the Historic Landmark status.

3- Propose legislation for a new National Park with the DQ as the centerpiece. MAL could donate the boat to the Park Service and it would become federal property, something along the lines of the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone Park, where I was last week. The Inn is undergoing a multimillion dollar restoration to preserve it.

My biggest fear is the boat rotting in some backwater. I would hate to see it non operational. The next best option would be out of the water in a climate controlled environment with steam for the calliope and the means to have the wheel spin, much like U505 in Chicago. A preserved DQ, even non operational is better than none at all.
Thoughts?

And is anyone at MAL is listening, here is some free advice:

Focus your efforts on the exemption. If you cannot get it, then promote the final season or give us the full story as to why you are abandoning us and the vessel without giving the exemption a chance.

There has got to some reason-money, worn machinery, etc. A steamboat company without the DQ is nothing. The DQ is an icon of the rivers, and a symbol of America, like Statue of Liberty, Mt Vernon, Old Ironsides, to name a few.

A rebuilt MQ is nothing, it still is a big steel box. Mothball MQ instead.

Whenever I tell someone about the boats, the DQ is the first one that is asked about. When I mention the AQ or MQ, there is little or no recognition of the boat. And they are 12 years and 31 years old! With DQ out of service, MAL will become another big corporation with no identity and the boats will fade away.

If nothing else, donate the boat to the National Parks Service or some non profit that can demonstrate and have the funds to preserve the vessel for the future.