Park the Delta Queen in Natchez

Published 12:19 am Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Think of Natchez and you immediately think of the Mississippi River.

Think of the river and you’re mind quickly conjures up images of steamboats, steamboats like the Delta Queen.

Built in 1926, the vessel has been cruising the Big Muddy for decades. But its big red paddlewheel may soon slow to a halt unless something is done to stop the government from being over protective.

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Next year, a special exemption granted to the big wooden boat will expire and with it, so will a long history of riverboat mystique.

The U.S. Coast Guard is concerned that the vessel may become a firetrap for its passengers should an accident occur. While that’s certainly a concern, one would think the exemption, which has been granted for decades would be continued.

We hope the federal government will reconsider its ruling that will effectively kill the boat’s future.

But if the Delta Queen is no longer allowed to cruise with passengers, perhaps some entrepreneur will buy her and dock her in Natchez.

What an amazing place to tell the history of the Natchez story? Could it become the fourth key part to the Natchez National Historical Park? Perhaps that’s a bit of a pipe dream, but the idea is worth floating.

The Delta Queen has been a good friend to Natchez. Maybe in her waning years, Natchez can be a good friend to the Delta Queen. It’s worth doing some thinking about, perhaps as we look up river and wonder “what if?”