(Columbus KY August 29, 2012) – Traveling by steamboat was once the height of fashion and romance. Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, made river travel famous in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Clemens, who piloted boats on the Mississippi, knew well that Old Man River specialized in twisty turns that could change from the trip downriver to the trip back up. Twain recognized that people who traveled the River were interesting folk. That hasn't changed in 150 years.
Travel on the Mississippi River is once again in vogue for those who can afford to book a leisurely passage on a ship such as the lovely American Queen that docked briefly in Columbus today. The American Queen navigated her way around sand bars, tow boats and their barges. One barge she passed today was large enough to have a crane sitting on its deck. The American Queen’s destination is Memphis.
One passenger, Bill Lingo of San Diego, California, proudly reported that he is a member of the Eagle Society – passengers who have traveled on the steamship more than once. Lingo said he has purchased four weeks of travel at $3000 a week. He praised the service, the 24 hour a day bar, the food and the staff. Lingo’s wife died three years ago and the travel has given him a “new lease on life.” He is traveling to New Orleans from Minnesota by way of Nashville.
American Cruise Lines employees shepherded their guests onto buses for a trip to Columbus Belmont Park. There they were scheduled to tour the Park Museum and enjoy entertainment from local musicians. Columbus was once a hub for steamboat travel. Plans are in the works to entertain disembarkening passengers in true Southern style.
The American Queen will accommodate 150 passengers. She doesn’t get where she is going fast – but she gets there in style.