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What's Up With The JULIA BELLE?

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    What's Up With The JULIA BELLE?

    Would someone with some new information on the JULIA BELLE SWAIN pass along how things are going with her. Will she be out this year at all? I'm a bit nervous that I haven't heard anything about fundraising and the new owners' timeline about returning her to service.


    Here is a release from Capt. Eric Dykman of the Julia Belle Swain dated 7, March 2014.

    Hello Steamboat friends and family! We've been getting a lot of great and heartfelt messages regarding the status of the Julia Belle, so I thought I'd try to address some of them here.
    To begin, the overall mission of the JBS Foundation is to completely renovate and restore the 43 year-old steamboat to a like-new status. The Foundation has a great group of volunteer individuals, all with outstanding expertise in varying fields, making up the Board of Directors. Paperwork has been filed for a 501(c)(3) non-profit tax status and we are anxiously awaiting approval. A fantastic marine architect has been hired to help us redesign some inherent deficiencies and also add increased levels of passenger comfort such as cabin climate-control and restroom upgrades among others. Needless to say, safety of the passengers and crew is an overriding concern. We also fully realize and appreciate the magic that the Julia Belle has to many past and present crew members and patrons. I share these nostalgic feelings and preserving the old time riverboat feel is unquestionably another element heading into the restoration. As for the location of the Julia Belle, the home-port will continue to be on the Mississippi River at La Crosse, Wisconsin.
    It’s not going to be an easy job. It’s complex and will include replacing the boiler, the electrical generators, several tanks, and even deteriorated cabin walls. Those are big jobs, but there are hundreds of other smaller ones that will also need to be addressed. Lastly, we’ll need the support of you and others. A line of credit is being established, but we’ll need big and small donations and fundraising events to pay off the debt. To date, donations haven’t been actively pursued. We felt in order to be transparent and fair to prospective donors, a comprehensive restoration plan had to be in place. This plan is gathering momentum and will soon be established.

    If successful, the Julia Belle Swain will steam ahead for another 50 years, preserving a piece of river history! Thank you for your interest, support, and concern in the Julia Belle Swain steamboat.

    Captain, Julia Belle Swain


      Thanks, Travis, I feel better already. It sounds as if they are getting their act together, and they'll know how much and where money must be spent.


        On 14 August 2014 station WXOW (Home - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI) ran a story on the JULIA BELLE SWAIN. They report that if all goes well the nonprofit foundation that owns the old gal hopes to have the boat out begining next June. A public fundraising campaign is in the works to start soon. Some improvements mentioned will be air conditioning the cabin along with a lift to make her ADA compliant. The owner estimates the costs of returning the boat to service as $1.5 million. The story's video clip does show that the she was in drydock when it was filmed.