There’s only one “Queen,” in the minds of many Ohio Valley residents. She’s the Delta Queen, the sternwheel riverboat that has been plying the inland waterways for decades. Now, she’s in trouble.
The Delta Queen still is in good condition, despite the fact that she is 82 years old. Her problem is the federal government. A federal law, the Safety at Sea Act, may bring the Delta Queen’s long reign to an end this fall.
One provision of the act is that boats and ships with wooden superstructures are not permitted to take passengers on overnight cruises. The Queen was granted an exemption from the provision, but it expires in November.
If the law is enforced, the Queen will be out of business, after taking thousands of passengers on long river cruises — and doing so safely.
It has been pointed out that the intent of the Safety at Sea Act was to safeguard passengers on seagoing boats and ships. The Delta Queen doesn’t fit into that category. She never is out of sight of land and, in fact, can be grounded on a riverbank within minutes of any catastrophe.
Congress was asked last month to grant another extension of the exemption that has allowed the Queen to remain in business. But lawmakers, for reasons we can’t fathom, rejected the request.
Most Ohio Valley residents can’t afford a cruise on the Delta Queen — but that doesn’t matter. Simply watching her make her majestic way up or down the Ohio River is a treat, sometimes enhanced by the sound of the Queen’s calliope. Getting a peek at the riverboat’s machinery and amenities when tours are offered provides a look at a bygone era.
Congress should take another look at an exemption for the Delta Queen. Let’s keep the beautiful, historic old boat rollin’ on the river.