Delta Queen steamboat may have made its final voyage

The 82-year-old Delta Queen steamboat, the country's only floating National Historic Landmark and a vestige of New Orleans' glory days as a port city, docked for what was likely the last time Thursday night at the Julia Street Wharf.

Barring congressional intervention, it was the final stop on the farewell cruise for the last remaining steamboat carrying overnight passengers up and down America's rivers, and the only one made of wood.

The Delta Queen carried no passengers on her final journey, from Memphis, Tenn., to New Orleans, because the exemption from modern shipbuilding codes that she had enjoyed for more than four decades expired Oct. 31.

In her prime, the 174-passenger steamboat with the sassy red paddlewheel and ear-splitting, water-spitting calliope welcomed three U.S. presidents: Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter. In 1979, the boat temporarily was named "Steamboat One, " when Carter campaigned on it from St. Louis to St. Paul, Minn.

Other passengers over the years have included Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, Lady Bird Johnson, astronaut Michael Collins, Britain's Princess Margaret, boxer George Foreman, TV personalities Phil Donahue and Charles Kuralt, writers Shelby Foote and Alex Haley and entertainers Tammy Wynette, Miles Davis, Helen Hayes and Jim Nabors.

Built in 1926, the paddlewheeler was rescued six times by Congress after the passage in 1966 of the Safety of Life at Sea Act, which declared vessels with wooden structur....

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