Several "Steamcoach Stops" took travelers aboard the American Queen to points of interest around Wheeling on Tuesday after steamboat docked at Heritage Port for the first time in nearly four years.
Many area residents were seen taking pictures of the nostalgic vessel, which its parent company says is the largest river steamboat ever built. The American Queen is again providing that "all-American experience" for guests traveling through America's Heartland, according to a brochure handed out to passengers. The ship's voyages include routes along the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee rivers.
Once passengers exited the ship at Heritage Port on Tuesday morning, they had the opportunity to be shuttled by R. "Scat" Scatterday, manager of the Wheeling/Ohio County Rails to Trails, to one of three Great American Steamboat company tour buses located on Water Street.
Photos by Scott McCloskey
Local residents stop by Wheeling’s Heritage Port on Tuesday to get a glimpse of the majestic American Queen steamboat, which made a stop in the Friendly City for the first time in nearly four years.
The buses stopped at five points of interest throughout the city, including the Wheeling Artisan Center, Centre Market, West Virginia Independence Hall, the Eckhart House in North Wheeling and the Capitol Theatre.
According to Steamboat Ambassador Bebe Williams, this voyage began in Louisville, Ky., July 11 and concludes in Pittsburgh today. Williams said the guests have enjoyed the trip immensely.
"One of the things that is so wonderful along the Ohio River is ... having all the people come out in the river towns along the way. They are very excited to see the American Queen sailing again. It's been about four years since she was sailing," Williams noted.
According to published reports, the company that owned the American Queen in 2008 went out of business. Today, following millions of dollars of investments, the American Queen is now owned and operated by Great American Steamboat Co. LLC Inc. out of Memphis, Tenn.
Tim Birch, supervisor of operations for the city of Wheeling, said passengers aboard the ship were given the opportunity to take small tours of the stops in the city and could take advantage of a shuttle that ran to Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack.
At 1 p.m., the boat lowered its two large black stacks and slowly pulled away from Heritage Port, churning up the water of the Ohio River while heading north to Pittsburgh.
According to an official with the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau, area residents will have the opportunity to see the American Queen on two separate days next week. It will be docked at Wheeling's Heritage Port from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 26 and July 28.