Visual display of the Delta Queen (Packet/Excursion boat, 1926- )

Delta Queen (Packet/Excursion boat, 1926- )

  • BOAT DESCRIPTION: Sternwheel
  • BOAT TYPE: Packet
  • BUILT: 1926 at Stockton, California
  • OWNERS: California Transportation Company; Isbrandsten Steamship Lines (1940); Greene Line Steamers, Incorporated (1946); Overseas National Airways (1969); Delta Queen Steamboat Company; Coca-Cola Company, New York (1976); Prudential Lines, Incorporated, San Francisco
  • OFFICERS & CREW: Captain Paul Underwood (master); Captain Ernest E. Wagner (master); Captain Clarke "Doc" Hawley (master); Captain Gabriel Chengery (master, 1977)
  • RIVERS: Mississippi River; Ohio River; Missouri River
  • OTHER INFORMATION: Ways - 1504; Fabricated at Glasgow, Scotland along with her sister ship, the Delta King. All steel work done on the River Clyde at the Isherwood Yard, Glasgow. Both boats were knocked down and the sections sent by steamship to San Francisco and then barged to Stockton where the boats were completed. The building operations extended from 1924 through part of 1927. Her machinery was built at Denny's Shop in Dumbarton; the paddlewheel shafts and cranks were forged at the Krupp Works, Germany. The upper cabins were built by U.S. shipwrights, four decks high, largely of oak, teak, mahogany, and Oregon cedar. When completed the two boats were the most expensive river sternwheelers extant, costing $875,000 each. In the beginning of her career she ran in the San Francisco-Sacramento trade on a regular year-round schedule. Frequent excursions were made to Stockton. She frequently carried 800 tons of freight. The staterooms slept 200. Rooms and passenger areas were air-conditioned, hot air heat. The cabins were finished in solid oak with natural mahogany and walnut trim. Plate glass windows surmounted by colored, leaded, stained glass transoms surrounded copious forward lounging areas. Seven watertight compartments divided the hulls thwartship, all hull space usable. The kitchen was in the hold, pantries and dining room on the boiler deck, with dumbwaiters to convey food and utensils. The main deck was built entirely of ironwood from Thailand. Many rooms had connecting shower or bath, white tiled, and twin beds. All hardware was solid brass. The Delta Queen and her sister ship were dedicated at the Banner Island shipyard, Stockton, on Friday, May 20, 1927 and entered service about June 1. They did handsomely, weathered the Great Depression, but a modern highway linking San Francisco and Sacramento was too much. The Delta Queen's last trip came on the closing day of the Golden Gate International Exposition, Sunday, September 29, 1940. Both boats were sold. After Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Navy took both boats and used them in the San Francisco Bay area, painted drab gray, designated "Yard Ferry Boats". At war's conclusion, they were turned over to the U.S. Maritime Commission. The Delta Queen was sold at public sale to Greene Line Steamers. She was then transferred to New Orleans, first undergoing repairs and a complete renovation. Changes were extensive. Her two cabin decks were extended forward, dining room placed on the main deck which was formerly the freight area. The air-conditioning was completely renovated; paddlewheel covering was removed; fuel capacity augmented; many new luxury cabins added where the dining room had originally been; new pantries, bar and toilet facilities appended to numerous staterooms. The Delta Queen left the Dravo Corporation yard at Neville Island, Pennsylvania on February 28, 1948 and arrived at Cincinnati March 1 to receive her new furniture, a swinging stage, etc. Since then she has been in tourist service on the Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Following the untimely death of Captain Tom R. Greene on July 10, 1950, the Delta Queen was managed by his widow, Letha Cavendish Greene until advertised for sale. Richard C. Simonton reorganized Greene Line Steamers in 1950 and the Delta Queen became a profitable venture. After Simonton became ill, on November 21, 1969, Greene Line was transferred to Overseas National Airways with operations based at Kennedy International Airport. The Delta Queen ran head-on into Public Law 89-777 prohibiting the operation of wooden superstructured overnight passenger vessels. In 1971, President Richard M. Nixon exempted the Delta Queen from the terms of the law for three years. Subsequent presidential sanction has kept the boat operative. The Delta Queen was brought 5,380 statute miles by sea, the lengthiest salt water transit of record for a flat-bottom sternwheeler. She came through unscathed, a tribute to her builder, James Burns, Oakland, California
  • PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Man standing in the engine room of the Delta Queen
  • Delta Queen (A)