*"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.