Tides turn for Delta Queen - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tides turn for Delta Queen

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Delta Queen owners and operators are ecstatic after a move by congress could soon have them back on the nation's rivers.

"There's a wide-open opportunity for this boat on the rivers. And it's a beautiful way to see this country," says hotel manager, Jennifer Lemmon.

The tide may finally be turning in favor of the Delta Queen. It docked on North Shore in 2008 after failing to get an exemption to a law against wooden frame passenger boats, but the House made the first move to get the historic steamboat back on the waterways.

Lemmon says the wait has been aggravating.

"We know this boat is safe on the river and that's where she's meant to be. And she only has a limited life when she's docked, so last night, when we heard that, we were like, 'yes!'"

The steam-powered paddleboat could shove-off as early as January to be readied for cruising.

Despite recent wranglings with city hall, it's attracted many fans. Patrick Hickey was so taken, he's heading a petition drive aimed at making Chattanooga the Delta Queen's home.

"One time we passed by here and it started playing its little organ music and had different colored lights, puffs of smoke coming out of the top, and it was really neat," says Hickey. "Look at her. She's beautiful. You know? She's lasted almost 90 years because of the quality of the materials and the craftsmanship. And those of us who love her, you know, we want her to survive."

Management hopes to have an easier time winning over the Senate and president.

They say Chattanooga is in the running for home port. A designation that would see the boat here for short periods, then a longer stay in the winter months.


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