Delta Queen could return to St. Louis region in 2018

KIMMSWICK, MO (KPLR) – Legislation from U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill to return the historic Delta Queen steamboat to Missouri passed the Senate and now appears ready for a 2018 debut.

The passenger steamboat hasn't operated in Missouri since 2008, but after Monday’s Senate passage, a return with a stop in Kimmswick could be set for next year. The bill heads to the House of Representatives, where it’s expected to pass.

“Our Facebook pages and Twitter accounts were exploding; it was a cool night,” said Dana Jones, director of operations for the Delta Steamboat Company.

Comments came in from past employees, supporters, and future passengers. The City of Kimmswick will have a landing area, allowing customers to begin and end their cruises there.

“The economic development it will bring to tiny Kimmswick is incredible,” said Kimmswick Mayor Phil Stang.

Patrick Lamping of the Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation said relocating the Delta Queen will create 170 local jobs and bring more than $36.4 million to the St. Louis region.

“She'll have clean burn boilers put on her, a lot HVAC systems, brand new galley, lots of work done, a lot of good weatherproofing,” Jones said.

The Delta Queen, which is listed on the National Registry, has 180 rooms and a crew of 80. She has been sitting in New Orleans this past year, but could be getting a makeover in as early as two months.

The steamer is just one way the community is using the Mississippi River for an economic impact.

“This is the single most important economic highway in (the) U.S. Jefferson County is understanding they can participate in that,” Mayor Stang said.