Paddle Steamers have been operating on the River Mississippi for over 200 years.
The worldwide interest in finding new destinations to cruise from has seen a resurgence of several new paddle steamers being built for service on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. However, the “King of the Mississippi” is the world’s largest paddle steamer, the American Queen, which was built in 1995 in Morgan City, Louisiana for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company.
The American Queen is different from most of the paddle steamers today in that a historical steam engine is used to drive the paddlewheel. This steam engine came from the US Army Corps of Engineers dredge vessel Kennedy which was originally built in 1932. The Kennedy was decommissioned after the 1984 World Fair in new Orleans, sold to Bolivar County, Mississippi and her dredging equipment was re-used by the county. The dredge went out of service and was moored in Rosedale, Mississippi.
In June 1992, a survey of the machinery was conducted and the decision was made to utilise the Kennedy’s engines on the American Queen. After restoration in Newcastle, Indiana the engines were transported by truck to Morgan City and installed in the vessel in 1994.
The American Queen’s stern wheel is driven by a four-cylinder, horizontally-inclined, tandem-piston, steeple compounded, double-acting reciprocating steam engine.
If you take a cruise on the Mississippi you can experience the legendary world of Mark Twain and enjoy the elegance of steamboat travel from the 19th Century whilst enjoying today’s comforts of the American Queen during your journey between Memphis and New Orleans covering 640 river miles on the Lower Mississippi.