Longtime landmark leaving for a new home - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Longtime landmark leaving for a new home

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - The Delta Queen, christened in 1927, has made a home for itself on the Chattanooga riverfront since 2008. Now it's only two days away from leaving The Scenic City, heading 500 miles away to New Orleans for a makeover. The trip could take up to 14 days depending on fast the Mississippi River flows. The owners want to transform the boat back into an overnight passenger vessel, making trips through America's waterways.

Before it's towed away, however, a crew from the coast guard is inspecting the boat to make sure it makes the journey without harming anyone or the environment.

"We inspect the hull of the vessel to make sure it's sound," explains Lt. Commander Doug Salik. "We examine any sort of hazardous materials or fuel levels."

Anything dangerous will be removed and disposed of properly. Crews are also checking the navigational lighting and equipment and the overall competency of the crew.

"That they know how to operate things. Make sure they know, if there's a fire, how to handle it. How to operate any of the pumps that might be needed if something were to go happen," adds Salik.

Generators and other backup systems are also being looked over. The boat operated as a hotel and restaurant while docked at Coolidge Park. The attraction has usually drawn mixed reviews.

Scott Buker noticed it after moving back to the city a few years ago.

"I kind of miss being able to see Coolidge Park from across the river. So, I'm kind of happy to see it leave," says Buker.

Judy Shipley, born and raised in Chattanooga, has eaten meals on the boat. She says it's departure is bitter-sweet.

"Time changes everything and not everything can stay the same," says Shipley. "I think it's been wonderful we've had it all this time, but it's time for it to have a new life."

Before taking on that new life, it must arrive intact.

"You do want to know that the vessel won't run into a problem," says Salik.

The Coast Guard will be back to make sure the Delta Queen is hooked up properly and safely to the tugboat. Owners say she could come back in Chattanooga someday, but only for a 24-hour turnaround.

For just $25 you can buy a seat aboard the Southern Belle boat and follow alongside the Delta Queen out of Chattanooga Sunday afternoon, March 22, 2015 at 2:30. For more information call 423-499-9977.
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