ACL Purchases Historic Steam Calliope

Press Release
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Queen of the Mississippi

Original calliope from 1880-built paddlewheel steamboat to be placed aboard Queen of the Mississippi.


American Cruise Lines, operator of the newest riverboats and small cruise ships in the United States, is pleased to announce it has just acquired a 132-year-old Nichol steam calliope to be placed aboard  its brand new 150-guest paddlewheeler, Queen of the Mississippi. The historic instrument, which originated from the Washington, a paddlewheel steamboat which operated on the Mississippi and Ohio River from 1880 to 1938, is being meticulously and beautifully restored to full operation, and will then be installed aboard the Queen of the Mississippi. The calliope will not only serve as a delightful reminder of the golden era of steamboating and the grandeur of the historic steamboats of the late 1880s, but also as a fully-functioning steam-powered instrument, which will play familiar melodies and sounds as Queen of the Mississippi makes her way up and down the Mississippi River.

Once owned by St. Louis-based Streekfus Line, the Washington was built in Wheeling, W. Virginia, in 1880. Originally named Sidney, the historic steamboat was renamed the Washington, the name it operated under until it was dismantled in 1938. The purchase of its calliope includes all its original brass whistles and valves, keyboard, recordings and books, which have all been preserved, and will soon be aboard Queen of the Mississippi. Unique to this steam calliope only, is one elevated whistle which sits above the rest, an uncommon feature not known to be on any other existing calliope.

The calliope tells a truly unique part of American history and will bring a glorious piece of the past to guests aboard Queen of the Mississippi. More than just a historic artifact, it represents a time of great American expansion and innovation, and the very foundation upon which modern-day America was built.

“The instrument perfectly suits our new paddlewheeler,” said Timothy Beebe, Vice President, American Cruise Lines. “Blending both old and new, Queen of the Mississippi provides a truly authentic and nostalgic cruise experience, while offering the best and most comfortable accommodations ever available on the Mississippi River. Guests will be truly delighted with the addition of this impressive piece history.”

During the eight-day journeys, guests aboard Queen of the Mississippi enjoy numerous and distinct amenities, including the most spacious staterooms and private balconies with sliding glass doors. Seasoned cruise passengers especially appreciate American Cruise Lines’ exclusive, open seating dining plan, which allows guests to enjoy meals in a single seating or at the time of their choice, while surrounded by panoramic views of the River.  For the duration of each cruise, an all-American crew caters to passengers’ every need, while daily educational events and themed entertainment help paint a picture of what life on the Mississippi was like in days gone by.

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