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Fighting on the home front

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    Fighting on the home front

    Here are some goings-on around the "Dubuque office" of our campaign:

    Dad wrote a letter to the editor of the Telegraph Herald, the largest circulation newspaper in the area. Here is the complete text (also available here):

    Delta Queen worth saving
    David Tschiggfrie, 2723 Shetland Court

    On the heels of the tragic news of the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis, also comes the shocking news that the steamer Delta Queen will cease operation forever in November 2008.

    Majestic America Line, new owners of the veteran sternwheeler, announced two days ago that Congress has denied the steamboat any further exemption from the Safety of Life at Sea law, exemptions under which she has operated safely and successfully since 1970.

    In that year, a tremendous outpouring of support from hundreds of thousands of Americans saved the Delta Queen at the 11th hour. And now, once again this historic and irreplaceable steamboat is being threatened with extinction, and she desperately needs our help. It's time to contact our U.S. Congressmen, urging them to support a permanent exemption for this boat. Once she is gone, her likes will never be seen again.

    This city has a long and colorful history connected to the Mississippi River and its steamboats, and the Queen's visits here are a highlight of the summer and fall along the river's banks.

    The Delta Queen, a national historic landmark, is the last vintage, authentic overnight passenger steamboat in the United States, preserving a 196-year history of steamboating on America's rivers.

    So write your Congressmen to help save the Delta Queen. Her days are numbered, and so are ours if we hope to make a difference in preserving a piece of our history. Do not wait.

    I've been making inquiries to local and federal officials regarding the full text of Public Law 89-777. As of today, the only response I've received is from Len Sutter, Office of Chief Counsel of the United States Maritime Administration. Here are some highlights:

    [SIZE=2]FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR DEATH OR INJURY TO PASSENGERS. Sections 2[/SIZE] [SIZE=2]and 3 of Public Law 89-777, approved November 6, 1966 (80 STAT. 1356),[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]provides for financial responsibility for death or injury to passengers.

    [/SIZE][SIZE=2]Section 2 of Public Law 89-777, generally requires each owner or[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]charterer of an American or foreign-flag vessel having berth or[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]stateroom accommodations of 50 or more passengers, and embarking[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]passengers at U.S. ports, to establish, under regulations prescribed by[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), financial responsibility to meet[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]any liability he may incur for death or injury to passengers or other[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]person on voyages to or from U. S. ports, in an amount based upon the[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]number of passenger accommodations aboard the vessel, as set forth in[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]the section.

    [/SIZE][SIZE=2]The purpose of these financial responsibility requirements is to insure[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]that adequate assets or insurance are available to pay judgments for[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]damages for death or injury to any person, including passengers or crew[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]members, or for nonperformance of the transportation. The primary[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]thrust of Public Law 89-777, concerned passenger vessel safety[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]standards. The genesis of the legislation was the fire aboard the[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]38-year-old Panamanian-flag cruise ship SS YARMOUTH CASTLE on November[/SIZE] [SIZE=2]13, 1965, that resulted in the loss of 90 lives. This vessel was[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=2]operated out of Miami, and the vast majority of the passengers were U.S.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=2]The email contained little more, certainly not the full text. Mr. Sutter also referred me to the local library, where apparently the full text may be found. If this is the case, look for another posting from me soon containing it.

    I've been sending letters to every kind of representative I can find. In addition, I plan on contacting local radio stations to see if I can get some airtime. I'll be taking a flyer to Staples to get copies made, and hopefully man a station near the river to hand them out. Dad and I also talked about the possibility of getting the museum here involved, by running a weekly program or something similar.

    Anyone have more ideas?

    Yes, Jonathan, even though my brain has had to think work today, my mind was going 100 miles an hour over the weekend. Mayors of all the cities and towns where she stops needs to be notified. Their economies will suffer without our DELTA QUEEN stopping there, in particular those cities that are used for turn over day - with use of the car rental facilities cabs, and hotels, eating places, etc.

    Keep those thoughts and suggestions coming. For those of you to timid to post on the public airways, send a private email to one of us. We'll be glad to take action on it.


      Good work Jonathan! Thanks! You are certainly a role model for your peers and an inspiration to us old-timers as well! Young people like you give me HOPE that all is not lost. Of course, knowing your dad as I have for nearly 40 years (and your mother for 30), as well as his wonderful parents, I know you have been "brung up" right!

      Besides encouraging steamboat fans to send a barrage of letters to everybody who will listen to the plight of the DQ, I'm not sure everyone on the board is aware of the new t-shirts and buttons that are available in the STEAMBOATS.ORG Market Place. I was going to wear my old orange button from 1970 that reads SAVE THE DELTA QUEEN - KEEP STEAMBOATING ALIVE, but I have just ordered a quantity of the updated version.

      I keep thinking of how Betty Blake valiantly led the nationwide battle to save the DQ in 1970, even getting school children to write letters, etc. I was 16 years old at the time and wrote to Betty requesting any material that we might distribute to visitors at the Howard Steamboat Museum. Several days later, she sent me a BOX full of bumper stickers and buttons, as well as petitions which I circulated at school, church and everywhere else I could. Betty was indefatigable in her efforts and she did it without such things as e-mail, websites and other technology unheard of 37 years ago!

      Thanks again and KEEP UP STEAM!
      Last edited by Keith Norrington; 08-07-2007, 03:21 PM.


        I am on the board of the local Historical society, and I am asking them for a petition to our representatives to SAVE THE DELTA QUEEN! Meeting is tomorrow night, and I've already asked to be on the agenda.
        I hope my bottons arrive before then!!!
        Great job, and excellent wording, I may steal some of it!!
        David D.
        N. California Save the Delta Queen headquarters!


          Well, folks it has been brought to my attention that there is a snitch in the office. So even though I have worked through my lunch times and have been staying late in the evenings to make sure everything is done, it looks like my advocacy days are over. That does not mean that I won't be working behind the scenes after work hours and on weekends. But I have to limit myself to time on the message board and with private emails and phone calls. So keep up the steam - so to speak and I'll be sneaking around and doing what I can!


            also the I'D RATHER BE A STEAMBOAT THAN PRESIDENT.....DELTA QUEEN LOGO.....bumper sticker,

            Rather appropriate in 07/08.


              I Have one of those buttons!! Now where did I put it. . .
              David D.