Yesterday Bill, Mary, and Vi Foley; Pat Welsh and I spent a delightful afternoon/early evening in Muscatine Iowa, the former 'Pearl Button Capital of the World.' Residents Tom and Ann Meeker have purchased many downtown buildings, including the hotel, and are revitalizing the area. They have a most popular restaurant, the Button Factory, right across Rt. 22 from the river, and now they have started operating an excursion boat which formerly ran in Stillwater MN. This little sidewheeler, powered by 2 85hp diesels and an auxiliary on the stern, has been renamed the PEARL BUTTON. She holds about 110 passengers. This week they have been running one hour public cruises, most of which have been at or close to capacity. At this point, their main thrust is for private charters, but they are planning Sunday afternoon public trips, and an 'open house/cruise' on Friday nights for this season. None of us can recall Muscatine ever having an excursion boat of their own (of course she was on the AVALON and DQ schedule, one of Capt. Wagner's favorite stops), and the gambling boat DIAMOND LADY did day trips from Bettendorf to Muscatine and vice versa), but to have a resident boat is a new, and obviously very popular, concept. As Paul Penta lamented in another thread, there would have been a great possibility for overnight trips centered on the All Star Game in St. Louis. The dearth of the overnight QUEENS has indeed spawned new/expanded enterprises by local boats(see SPIRIT OF PEORIA St. Louis trips for instance) which are doing a fine business despite the economy, and it certainly was a joy to be able to be out on the river yesterday, if only for an hour. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Muscatine, it will be worth the stop - don't forget the Mabel Bartenhagen collection at the Musser Public Library too!!!

Button Factory Restaurant - Muscatine Iowa ( This is the website for the restaurant, but boat reservations and information are made through the restaurant at this time.