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Thread: Death of Steam

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  1. #1

    Default Death of Steam

    The other day Kenny Howe and myself were doing some filing at the Howard Museum when I came across an envelope filled with papers. Apparently Jim Howard traveled to Chattanooga in 1929 to discuss building a proposed towboat for the Chattanooga Sand and Gravel Co. On the back of a piece of hotel note paper was a pencil drawing of the towboat Jim Howard proposed to build; it was to be a steam sternwheel boat.
    When he got back to Jeffersonville Jim started pricing things out....the steam machinery was going to cost $11,000. A Cooper diesel engine was priced at $4,600. Guess which one the owner chose. You got it, even as far back as 1929, steam just couldn't compete.
    Yet, we insist that, if operated correctly, a steam passenger vessel can be competitive today even though 85 years ago steam was too expensive for a small sand and gravel towboat.

  2. #2

    Default Steam-factor

    I believe this too. I think that having an actual STEAMboat and not just a paddlewheeler could boost curiosity, boost interest, and boost sales. I've been looking at AMERICAN QUEEN videos on the internet, and its interesting, because many commenters have stated that the AMERICAN QUEEN isn't traditional enough and they'd rather go on the DELTA QUEEN. Excluding my own opinion from this issue, this means there are definitely still traditional STEAM lovers out there. I think that if the DELTA QUEEN comes back to service, sales will rocket, as steam lovers and history lovers come out of the woodworks. The BELLE OF LOUISVILLE has had visitors from 100's of countries, and all 50 states. People will definitely notice the STEAM part. It's the steam-factor that makes them curious and interested. I mean, if you gave somebody the chance to ride the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE or the SPIRIT OF JEFFERSON, which one are they more likely to choose? Both are lovely choices, but the BELLE's historic and authentic, and has STEAM. Steam is still alive!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    St. Paul, MN - Near the Mighty Mississippi


    The question goes back to whether there are enough Steam lovers to make it profitable. The excursion railroad lines grapple with this question also. There are a few steam trains still around - the former Milwaukee Road 261 and the Strasburg Railroad are two that come to mind. However, with just a handful of steam locomotives on the rails, it becomes difficult to keep up with operation and maintenance costs, compared to some of the more "modern" (aka 1950s) diesel locomotives. There is no doubt that this is in the forefront of the minds of those who make the financial decisions. Sad that it has to be this way.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Chattanooga Tn

    Default Steam vs. diesel

    To answer this question on what people prefer. We need look no further tha New Orleans for the answer. The Natchez is a STEAMboat and operates daily. It competes with the Creole Queen a very nice paddlewheel diesel boat. If I remember correct the Natchez is more expensive to ride (but what a ride). There is no shortage of ridership even at the higher price. They still offer top billing for drinks food and entertainment. So a true STEAMboat can profit with a non steamboat just as nice.

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