Delta Queen to remain in Natchez

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 30, 2001

VIDALIA – The Delta Queen, which brings boatloads of tourists to the area several times a year, is not leaving Natchez to dock in Vidalia, Mayor Hyram Copeland said Friday.

Copeland said Delta Queen Steamboat Company officials called him about six months ago to ask whether their steamboats could dock at the Vidalia riverfront’s boat ramp if the boats cannot dock at Natchez for any reason.

&uot;They didn’t mention a timetable to start that. They just asked me if they could dock here if something came up&uot; that prevented the boat from docking across the river, Copeland said.

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&uot;But they’re not talking about docking over here 100 percent of the time,&uot; he said.

Copeland said he has not talked with Delta Queen officials since that telephone call. Delta Queen Steamboat Co. Marine Operations Manager Bill Richards could not be reached for comment Friday.

The Delta Queen boats – which include the Delta Queen, Mississippi Queen and the American Queen – have docked at Vidalia several times in the past, but not recently, Copeland said.

Natchez Mayor Hank Smith said Friday he had not heard about the possibility of the steamboats docking in Vidalia.

&uot;I don’t know of any situation that could come up that cause them not to be able to dock here,&uot; he said. No docking conflicts have arisen since a boat ramp was built at Fulton Street more than three years ago for such boats, Smith said.

Smith said he did meet Thursday with officials of the Delta Queen Steamboat Co., but the meeting had nothing to do with the possibility of the company’s boats docking in Vidalia.

&uot;We discussed plans for a special event they’re having April 2,&uot; Smith said.

On-street parking on Silver Street will be prohibited from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day to allow 360 passengers from a special charter of the company’s American Queen to unload and reload smoothly.