Missouri Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill today announced that their legislation to bring the historic 1920's riverboat Delta Queen back to the Mississippi River was signed into law. The bill reinstates a decades-long exemption to allow the boat to operate from its new home port of Kimmswick, in Jefferson County - creating jobs and strengthening economic growth and tourism.
"The return of the historic Delta Queen is great news for our state and the St. Louis region," said Blunt. "This important part of our nation's history will create jobs and strengthen our state's growing tourism industry. I thank our House colleagues, local officials, and community leaders who have been great partners in our effort to bring this one-of-a-kind riverboat back to Missouri."
"I'm thrilled the Delta Queen will once again part the Mississippi as I depart the Senate," McCaskill said. "This historic landmark will highlight the rich history of the state I love, supporting local communities up and down the river. Working with Senator Blunt and my colleagues in the House to make this a reality has been a privilege."
According to the Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation, returning the Delta Queen to the St. Louis area will create more than 170 local jobs. The Delta Queen is expected to begin and end a number of its cruises each year in Kimmswick, and will visit up to 80 other ports in the United States.
Built in the 1920s, the Delta Queen is an historic, wooden American steamboat that carried dignitaries (including three U.S. Presidents) and thousands of other passengers through the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The boat also served as a naval ship during World War II.
For more than 40 years, the Delta Queen was exempted from a law passed by Congress regulating passenger vessels carrying 50 or more passengers overnight on domestic U.S. waters. That exemption expired in 2008. The bill passed by the Senate today restores the long-running exemption and requires the Delta Queen, which is fully compliant with all other Coast Guard safety regulations, to annually modify at least ten percent of the wooden portions of the vessel's superstructure to comply with the federal safety law requirements.
The Delta Queen is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is classified as a National Historic Landmark. In 2013, it was designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.