not logged in.
           forgot password?

Aboard the "Belle of the Ball"!

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Prev Previous Post   Next Post Next
  #1 (permalink)  
Old 10-02-2006, 10:04 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: On the "Beautiful Ohio" at New Albany, Indiana, opposite Louisville, Kentucky
Posts: 2,078
Default Aboard the "Belle of the Ball"!

Yesterday (Sunday) was truly glorious - weatherwise and otherwise -- to be steamboating! The venerable Str. BELLE of LOUISVILLE departed the Louisville landing at 9:50 AM, just as the Str. NATCHEZ emerged from the Louisville and Portland Canal. She paused briefly in midstream while artist Michael Blaser was taken aboard via rescue boat. Capt. Alan Bates, the marine architect who designed the beautiful steamboat 30+ years ago was on the wharf to see his pride and joy steam upriver -- where she promptly overtook and passed the BELLE near Six Mile Island. The morning sun dramatically spotlighted the NATCHEZ against a background of beautiful foliage (beginning to change into autumn colors) affording photographers a rare chance to get pictures of the boat without the "big city background" of New Orleans behind her. I don't think we had reached Twelve Mile Island when Franz and Carmen announced that they had already taken 101 pictures!!! For most of the day we saw the stern of the NATCHEZ in the distance, but it was a sensational sight for two steamboats to be sharing that gorgeous stretch of river, creating a feeling of having gone back in time.

Aboard the BELLE, we had a FABULOUS day! With only some 60 passengers, there was plenty of room to enjoy the boat which, as I've posted previously, looks MAGNIFICENT, thanks to the tender loving care and hard work of her devoted crew. Capts. Kevin Mullen and Angela Shackelford shared command, with Capts. Bill Ray and Kevin Mullen alternating as pilots. Chief engineers Jim McCoy and Dan Lewis presided in the engine room and longtime BELLE "do EVERYTHING concierge/hostess with the mostess" Kadie Engstrom took care of the gift shop, ably handling numerous other purser's office details. Later in the afternoon, Capt. Bill, after going off watch, brought out his banjo and held forth on the Texas Deck to an appreciative audience. A whistle salute was blown when passing "Payne Hollow" in tribute to the late Harlan and Anna Hubbard. Harlan, as many know, was a noted artist and author of such books as "Shantyboat". The landing has grown up, but the roof of the house was visible. Buffs and Buffettes aboard besides the aforementioned Franz and Carmen, included Pat Traynor, Pat Carr, Jo Ann Schoen, Tom Schiffer, Jim and JoAnn Herron, Keith Baylor (who helped out in the engine room) Dan Goen (who signed on as a deckhand) a group of staff members and friends from the Howard Steamboat Museum, Corps of Engineers historian Chuck Parrish and others. Steve and Barbara Huffman got on at Madison, as did Frank Prudent and Vic Canfield. A special thanks to Steve Huffman and Aaron Richardson who graciously caught the handy lines. Aaron dragged the long, wet and HEAVY stern line up the steep bank (no easy task!) to a timberhead and provided much appreciated assistance in getting the BELLE tied up quickly. Due to the presence of the CELEBRATION BELLE and MAGNOLIA BELLE at the Madison wharf, the BELLE had to go upriver a bit from her usual landing place when visiting the historic river town.

Quite a number of passengers boarded the BELLE at Madison for the two hour cruise to Carrollton, KY where the boat remained overnight before departing at 10 AM today for Cincinnati. After tooting the cally-ope in a joyful voice of steam to herald the Belle's arrival (the echoes in Broadway Hollow across the river are terrific!) I reluctantly took my leave of the boat. Pipe organ company business dictates that I be in my office this week, but it was a real pleasure and privilege to be asked to serve as calliopist and pilothouse watchman yesterday. Just like "old times" again and tons of fun! My fingers aren't quite as nimble as they were when I first played on the BELLE nearly four decades ago, but I took enough Aleve to "down a mule" and suvived the day painlessly! Martha Gibbs, one of the Belle's regular calliope players, will be at the brass keyboard during Tall Stacks. Promptly at 5 PM , with jingling bells and resounding blasts of her mighty whistle, the gleaming BELLE backed out into the river amidst beautiful clouds of steam. The setting sun made the Ohio a shimmering silver pathway as the boat deftly turned and came ahead, her 'scape pipes chuffing and whooshing their snowy white "breath" as the 92 year old grand lady of the river processed elegantly upstream under the Madison bridge, creating dandy rollers with her glistening red sternwheel. I stood on the wharf waving and watching, mesmerized, with a lump in my throat as the waves of water lapped at my feet, thinking there's absolutely NOTHING like our BELLE - the closest you can possibly come to the oldtime steamboats. As "the little steamboat that could" churned out of sight, a noticeable hush swept over the crowd on the riverfront as they, too, "fell under the spell of the Belle"! I've undoubtedly left out a lot of other details and names (my apologies) but it was just one of those divine days when you simply had to BE THERE to absorb the full effect of it!

Best wishes to ALL who are attending Tall Stacks in various capacities this week. Enjoy the festival in every way and have a safe and fun time -- filling your eyes and ears with the sights and sounds of riverboats from near and far.

Keep up steam!
"Calliopist Emeritus"
Str. Belle of Louisville

Last edited by Keith Norrington; 10-16-2006 at 11:28 AM.
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
July 4th aboard the Natchez Carmen River Talk & Cruises 2 07-25-2006 04:54 AM

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:06 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2
All content on this site is copyright protected and may not be re-used without written permission.
Bookmark and Share