“Ma” Green’s ghost to roam no more

Majestic America Line is force to say goodbye to a long time river queen. The Delta Queen, with a wooden superstructure, up until this year, had been granted an exemption to operate by the USCG and sail with overnight guess, which was granted every ten years, since 1968. The line’s website host some other articles and information on the ship and its fate. Below is an article that provides a good overview of the situation.

Historic Delta Queen on last Mississippi River cruise
By BARTHOLOMEW SULLIVAN, Scripps Howard News Service
2008-10-27

CINCINNATI — The Delta Queen stern-wheeler is on what is likely its last trip down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers as a passenger-carrying steamboat.

On Friday, it loses its exemption to carry overnight passengers, and will travel from Memphis, Tenn. down the river to New Orleans with just its crew. The American Queen, full of passengers, will accompany her south.

“That boat is just such a precious memory for me,” said former Island Queen captain Dale Lozier, who painted a picture of the 1926 historic landmark in the 1970s.

“I wonder where the ghost is going to go,” said Shelby County, Tennessee’s official historian, Ed Williams, 73. He was talking about the ghost of Mary B. “Ma” Green, a former owner and captain who died in 1949 and whose ghost is rumored to haunt the boat.

Memphis Mayor Willie W. Herenton expressed the city’s feelings. “The Delta Queen has delivered many visitors to Memphis, and we are honored to be a part of its rich history,” he said in a statement.

It is a floating museum and a piece of mechanical history. She has a ship’s bell that used to toll on a boat Mark Twain took down the river in the 1880s. She’s carried Presidents Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter and Britain’s Princess Margaret. It was painted battleship gray and joined the Navy during World War II.

“We certainly hope it won’t be the last time,” said Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau president Kevin Kane. “It’s certainly part of the charm of the Mississippi.”

Williams recalled being fascinated by the boat’s steam calliope when he first saw it as a youngster in junior high. There was a time when the Delta Queen was the only steamboat on the river that traveled interstate and stopped in Memphis, Williams said.

“Of course all the new ones are steel-hulled,” he added.

A caucus of river-district congressmen, led by U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, have sought to extend the exemption to a U.S. Coast Guard regulation prohibiting overnight cruises for boats with wooden superstructures, but to no avail. It has received the exemption every 10 years since 1968, but not this year.

“I can’t imagine the number of lives that could be lost if a fire started on the Delta Queen when everyone is asleep,” said Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over the matter, who opposes an extension.

Vanessa Bloy, communications director for the Seattle-based Majestic America Line that owns the boat, said a big tribute is planned along its ports of call. In Memphis, the boat’s band will play, there will a calliope concert and Captain John Dugger will pay tribute to the Bluff City.

The special 10-day, Cincinnati-to-Memphis cruise is costing its 176 passengers $3,199 per person.

A movement to “Save the Delta Queen” has been under way for more than a year, organized in part by a German steamboat enthusiast, Franz Neumeier.

“Ridiculous political games and an inactive Congress are about to end an important era of American history, irrevocably,” Neumeier said. “The Delta Queen not only is a National Historic Landmark and has a perfect safety record for over 80 years. She also brings business and jobs to many small towns along the rivers. It’s a shame that Congress is not taking care of this country’s history.”

Lozier, 61, a self-described “river rat,” operated boats on the Mississippi from 1960 to 2005, and said she’ll be at the Memphis landing Thursday. She hitched a ride from New Madrid, Mo., to Memphis in the mid-’90s, and is hoping something will happen to the boat operating as a steamship. But she’s also planning a wake, she said.

“It’s just as sad as it could be,” she said.

The Delta Queen is making its final Cincinnati-to-New Orleans Cruise this week. It and the American Queen will be stopping for events at (All times Central):

Cape Girardeau, Mo. — Tuesday, 1 p.m.
Memphis — Thursday, 4 p.m.
Helena, Ark. — Saturday — 4 p.m.
Greenville, Miss. — Sunday, Nov. 2, 4 p.m.
Vicksburg, Miss. — Monday, Nov. 3, 4 p.m.
Natchez, Miss. — Tuesday, Nov. 4, 4 p.m.
Baton Rouge, La. — Wednesday, Nov. 5, 4 p.m.
New Orleans — Friday, Nov. 7, 6 p.m.

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