Could this lady survive after all?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 23, 2010

As the fictional character Scarlett O’Hara showed us all in the Margaret Mitchell classic “Gone with the Wind,” it’s difficult to keep a Southern woman down.

Who can forget the famous scene in which she utters the vow: “As God as my witness, I shall never be hungry again!”

And, anyone who knows a few Southern belles knows never to bet against them.

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That’s why it’s no surprise that an 84-year-old Southern beauty, known all throughout the South, may soon be resurrected after many thought she was long retired.

The Delta Queen steamboat captivated thousands and thousands during her life, carrying passengers up and down the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

After Congress refused to extend the waiver to allow the wooden vessel to carry its full load of passengers, the Queen moved into her second job, serving as a dockside hotel for overnight guests in Chattanooga, Tenn.

It seemed like a fate ill fitted for such a fixture on the Mississippi River. The boat’s current owners said last week they were entertaining bids from potential buyers.

As one of the last remaining steamboats on the Mississippi and a regular visitor to Natchez, we would welcome the idea of bringing her home to Natchez.

Options are many, including putting the queen back in service. An easy argument could be made that a New Orleans to Memphis run with stops in cities along the way, including Natchez could hold great promise. In addition, a floating museum dedicated to the river’s history and influence on Natchez and the South could have nearly equal appeal.

Regardless of which option, we hope that if resources can be found and a plan developed for her long-term viability, that the Delta Queen could soon return to Natchez again — for visits or for a permanent home.