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Thread: The Return to Service of the Delta Queen - documenting her journey

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  1. #1
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    Default The Return to Service of the Delta Queen - documenting her journey

    Christmas greetings to all looking forward to many, many new years for the Delta Queen and her supporters. We have all been blessed this year with her gift of new life thanks to the hard work of many.

    Now her great journey continues. Our local PBS affiliate is running a series called "Ultimate Restorations". It covers the restoration to working condition of a steam engine, steam yacht, and other vintage transportation machinery. The DQ is about to undergo this trip into the future.

    Personally, I am not in a position to do more than express this Christmas wish. Somehow, someplace, sometime in the future there will be a program dedicated to her return to service detailing the steps taken to make this a reality.

    Keep your steam up!

    Russ Ryle

  2. #2
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    *Rebirth of the Queen*
    MERRY CHRISTMAS! steamboating colleagues,
    Greetings, Russ, and thanks for the above RE: restoration, repair, renovation of the DELTA QUEEN. The PBS series 'Ultimate Restorations' a favorite giving insights--at times too many insights--into ultimate restorations on land and water. I'm wondering if this is a 'proposal' from you to have the DQ covered in a series or has she already been selected? The legislation passed, as we know, but to my limited knowledge I've not heard if the DQ renovation/restoration has even begun. I hear some rumors here and there but nothing direct from those directly involved or if it has started. Latest broadcast was that, "Most to all of the work on the DQ will be done in slip in Houma." I see extensive marine survey work, letting of bids, detailed plans, assembly of materials, workers--even in time a much-needed hull inspection hauled out in dry dock. The list goes on and on from what I remember from ocean vessels. The PBS series is intriguing and 'could' in time draw much-needed exposure and publicity for the boat when she begins her new operating life. Publicity, PR a skill and talent the late Betty Blake was famous for in her early campaigns for/with the DQ. And there will never be another Betty Blake. Yet, in PR work, Betty mentioned to me several times, "At times too much news is not good news." I gather from some 'rumors' circulated by those in 2nd and 3rd positions of enthusiastic DQ support that work on the DQ will be far more than just "basic cosmetic work" as broadcast. Thanks for tipping us off and keep us informed.

    R. Dale Flick
    Old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati, Ohio

  3. #3
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    Merry Christmas Morning to all,

    Dale, it is my Christmas wish. Wish I was better connected but cannot personally do more than wish someone or someones can help facilitate this happening. Yes, we need public awareness and God knows positive news about anything is in real scarce supply these days.

    I am not a flicker of facebook person. Maybe someone on this board can and is wiling to help this cause along.

    A successful effort would have to have the blessings and active support of those directly involved with the DQ and her future. We need a sign from them a project like this would be appreciated?

    Russ

  4. #4
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    *DELTA QUEEN 'Restoration*
    Steamboating colleagues,
    Hi, Russ. Just back from a wonderful Christmas dinner with my 102 year old mother in her retirement center. I understand your interest in, possibly, documenting the 'repairs, renovations, restoration' of the DELTA QUEEN but, personally, feel this is an initiative best taken on/assumed by those most directly involved in Houma--not 2nd and 3rd parties--with their own PR and legal people. The DQ is and has been "a private for profit corporate enterprise outside of the public domain." People are free to give of their personal time, money as they see fit but this enterprise has/needs assurance of financial and banking institutions on a much higher order. Again, a number of odd 'rumors' filtering back here RE: financing, what people think the U.S. Coast Guard will and will not do etc. She is not a museum vessel such as the Str. W.P. SNYDER or the steam towboat GEORGE M. VERITY, Str. TICONDEROGA, Shelburn Museum etc. I am one who has been on, in, around old GREENE LINE STEAMERS and the DELTA QUEEN, knowing the Greene family about as far back as anybody to early 1950s here with Jim Reising, Kenny Howe, Capt. Don Sanders being others. The issue is very close to us, emotional but should not take on the aura of a fixation, monomania. She is what she is no more and no less. I know for certain that if Capt. Tom Greene still alive today with any interest or control in 'his' DELTA QUEEN, more than a few people would have pulled up hard by the hair where it hurts with what has been said, claimed, rumored. Let's sit back and let this process play out for the best. Those most directly in control, ownership, authority should be the ones to step up, speak up. Again, stories and rumors abound. It could come as a shock for a few people to open their mail box one day seeing an expensive envelope and letter inside on ivory bond paper with an impressive name, address of a legal firm opening up with, "Dear....., it has been brought to our attention that you have..." Get my gist? Betty Blake use to fume talking with me, "I don't know who are so-called friends are supposed to be as they are causing more trouble than our enemies." [Meaning those not in support of the DQ]. I worked long, hard on the first restoration program for the Str. W.P. SNYDER at the Ohio River Museum and then wrote the proposal for the very first 'Tall Stacks.' Be careful what you wish for.

    R.Dale Flick
    Old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.

  5. #5
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    Dale, I could not agree with you more as clearly stated in my previous posts. We are just spectators in this ongoing saga. Yes, be careful for what you wish for. Yes, look out for unintended consequences. But, keep wishing in hopes our steam tradition lives on. Keep your steam up!

    Best wishes to your 102 year old mother and all reading these posts.

    Russ Ryle

  6. #6

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    Russ and Dale.....this is the easy part. Getting the boat rebuilt to run again just requires money, with enough money you can rebuild anything, The hard part will come in a year or two when they enter the cruise boat business. Oh yes, they can get the boat running again, but can they keep it running? That'll be the hard part.

  7. #7
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    Dale, where on earth have you been if you think the only thing the owners have 'broadcast' was just basic cosmetic work needed? All along they have said there would be new boilers, moving the steam line, and various other mechanical issues to deal with. You call these 'basic cosmetic work'? In answer to people's queries about what was done in Houma, Phillip usually replied that they were doing basic cosmetic work until the exemption came through, but by no means did he or any other owners claim that all that was needed was basic cosmetic work. As much as we are interested in the DQ's return and want updates on her progress, I don't think the owners are obliged to make every detail public, as one Facebook page administrator has been railing for.

  8. #8
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    *DQ's return to service*
    HAPPY NEW YEAR! Steamboating colleagues,
    Good points, Judy with Phil Johnson being more than candid with what renovation, restoration, repairs will follow putting the DELTA QUEEN back in service. Phil, at least to me, has been more than open, considerate. What you missed has been a number outside of the present owners, administrators of the DQ who made more than a few of the statements heard around here in our part of the country. Don't kill the messenger but rather just read what a number of so-called DQ friends and advocates have said in public. We hear it all the time. Again, the DQ present administration needs to take ownership on the PR and new releases required and not relying on 2nd and 3rd party 'fans' to do their work for them. I'm totally in the dark about any other web administrators or what they say about the boat. Hope all is well. Back in town. CHEERS!

    R. Dale Flick
    Old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.

  9. #9
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    Is there a resource that documents the changes made to the DQ over time? I know there is for her original conversion to inland river operations but how about from then to today? Cabin layouts have changed since my cruise in 1978. Other changes?

    Keep your steam up. Looking forward to 2020.

    Best regards, Russ Ryle

  10. #10
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    *"Documenting" DQ journey to now*
    Morning, steamboating colleagues,
    Russ, you ask a pertinent question and I know I don't know all the answers. Costs for the DELTA QUEEN began early in 1947 with Capt. Tom Greene and his GREENE LINE dealing with the U.S. Navy, shoring her up for the long tow via Panama. Capt. Fed Way talked/wrote much about the boat's conversion at DRAVO in 1947 but, due to etiquette, never gave the final account run for the work--and it was high. I heard the end costs but won't say here. Even in 1947 the boat ran up $1,200 a day just on the ways seven days a week including holidays with no mention of materials used. Fred even mentions, "I made notes with an element of terseness." The DQ project even then nearly brought the GREENE LINE to the brink. Capt. Tom Greene, in 1947, had been 'advised' NOT to purchase the DELTA QUEEN even then but to go with totally new boat from hull up in steel with larger passenger accommodations, more baths, amenities running with diesel engines. Tom chose the DQ to get his company up and moving. There were still World War II shortages of materials, equipment, supplies. There were extensive files kept in the company office on the wharfboat in a running narrative from then on for financial reports, tax, expenses. Any company or concern does this even if not a marine operation with the DQ not being anything special in the world of financial operations. Somebody once said, "Anybody know how much money has been spent on keeping the DELTA QUEEN in good repair and operating over the years?" It would, in total, be astronomical. I saw some of the records then before the wharfboat was sold, moved when the then new Cincinnati riverfront was under construction. Mickey Frye was one who quickly stepped in to box up, save as much as he could.

    Also, Russ, remember the rates of inflation from 1947 to the DQ's last steaming days with expenses always lurking in the wings. Fred Way did mention/write the DQ was on the ways at DRAVO some days over six months being a "record long stay." Think of the on-going work to her in all of those years. You have to consider on-going maintenance, fuel, crew salaries, taxes, insurance [boat and employees], food supplies, periodic trips to the ways for hull inspections, equipment break-down with replacement and repair, increasing government and environmental regulations etc. The list goes on and on. The DELTA QUEEN isn't exempted from any of this just because it's the DQ. When the last ISLAND QUEEN exploded, burned in Pittsburgh, Sept. 1947 Tom Greene came within an ace of unloading the DQ to the CONEY ISLAND CO. as a replacement boat until Ed Schott, CEO of CONEY, saw all of that wood superstructure, need for a total gutting with him throwing in the sponge. Mrs. Letha Greene mentioned to me once, "The steamboat business one of the toughest to be in. You have a marine operation, crew, entertainment, food, liquor, hotel division--and I inherited it all when Tom died." In many ways the DQ--as with other vessels--are a constant work in progress from beginning to end. What does that tell you? Certainly no warm, romantic, cuddly old time steamboat romance here. CHEERS!

    R. Dale Flick
    Old Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.

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