Rally on the River: Saving the Delta Queen
Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Last February we saw a historic steam boat dock at Coolidge Park, now the Delta Queen's future in Chattanooga is in danger.
The company that owns the boat, Ambassadors International, has it up for sale.
This week there will be a rally to raise money for the Delta Queen. The goal is to get the city and community behind efforts to keep the vessel in Chattanooga.
"This boat has some magic aura about her that just reaches out and grabs you," says Pat Traynor.
Ever since the Delta Queen docked at Coolidge Park, Pat Traynor and some other self-proclaimed river fanatics have given their time to volunteer.
"Just to do little extra things that need doing," says Traynor.
Little extra things add up to big expenses. Paying the up-keep bill on a steam boat from 1926 is no small undertaking.
"This gorgeous wood takes a lot of care, the decks take a lot of care, the brass, the mahogany everything about her takes a tremendous amount of up-keep," says Julie Dodson with Delta Queen Marketing.
In 2008 the company that owns the boat put her up for sale. Over the summer Pat Traynor says she's watched prospective buyers, many from outside Chattanooga come through.
"They want to gut the place and make bigger rooms and make the lounge, which is sacred to us, a hallway," says Traynor.
That's why the vessel's new managers are doing everything they can to make sure the Delta Queen stays as she is and in the Scenic City.
"That's what rally on the river is all about. We are asking people to purchase a ticket for dinner entertainment tours and all of that and a big portion of that is going to the preservation of this beautiful boat," says Dodson.
For Traynor it's about more than something she's come to love, it's about history.
"We don't want to see this beautiful boat chopped up and gutted because we're losing a national treasure," says Traynor.
The Delta Queen's new managers have also set up a foundation for the boat called the "Delta Queen Preservation Foundation".
The hope is, with support from the community, the foundation will one day be able to purchase the boat.
It's price tag is $4.5 million.
A "Rally on the River" fundraiser has been set for Thursday, November 4th from 6:30-9:30 PM.
The money will go to the preservation foundation.