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December 9, 2012

Travel: The Delta Queen

(Continued)

- — Trouble for the Queen

In 1966, Congress passed the Safety of Life at Sea Law that was primarily designed for ocean-going vessels. However, the law’s wording snagged riverboats with wooden superstructures, including the Delta Queen. Thus, the famed riverboat would no longer be permitted to carry overnight passengers.

Friends of the Delta Queen were able to obtain several extensions so the Queen could continue working. However, the extensions ended in 2008, and in February 2009, the Delta Queen was moved to Chattanooga as a stationary “hotel.” Friends of the historic riverboat continue to work with members of Congress, trying to obtain a renewal of the exemption (www.save-the-delta-queen.org). During these turbulent years, the riverboat has been through several owners and is currently again for sale.  

Planning a Visit

Chattanooga (www.Chattanoogarun.com) is perhaps best-known as the location of Ruby Falls and Rock City, but there is lots to do in this revitalized city. The Delta Queen is docked on the North Shore beside Coolidge Park, a portion of the extensive Tennessee Riverpark that has undergone a $120 million transformation. The park is part of a 13-mile greenway that includes a 10-mile-long paved walking and bike trail following the river.  

Fortunately much of the city is close at hand for guests of the Delta Queen. A free electric shuttle operates throughout the downtown area and the North Shore with a stop near the Delta Queen (www.goCARTA.org). If you prefer biking, Chattanooga offers a low-cost bicycle rental system with bike stands scattered throughout the downtown area. Pick up a bicycle from one stand and drop it off at another (bikeChattanooga.com). It is a great way to explore the city at a more leisurely pace.

A walk across the John Ross/Market Street Bridge leads to the Tennessee Aquarium (tnaqua.org) with both fresh and salt water fish, penguins, and a tropical rainforest with butterflies. The aquarium includes an IMAX 3D Theater and access to the River Gorge Explorer that carries passengers into the Tennessee River Gorge. A few blocks from the aquarium, the Creative Discovery Museum (www.cdmfun.org) includes hands-on exhibits that is likely to delight children.  

Walking across pedestrian-only Walnut Street Bridge leads to the Hunter Museum of American Art (huntermuseum.org) that is perched on a bluff high above the river. The museum houses beautiful artwork in three connected buildings that also include reading rooms where art books and videos are available to visitors. Next to the Hunter Museum is the three-block Bluff View Art District (www.bluffviewartdistrcit.com) that includes a sculpture garden, gallery, bakery, coffee house, chocolate kitchen, restaurants, and a bed and breakfast.

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