If you happen to see the American Queen cruising along one of America’s rivers, take a close look at that name beneath the big red paddlewheel.
Proudly posted on the back of the riverboat is the American Queen’s new homeport – Memphis, Tennessee.
“We are very happy to be the new home of the American Queen,” said Jonathan Lyons, public relation manager for the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our city officials worked hard to get that honor.”
The newly formed Great American Steamboat Company, which owns and operates the boat, is expected to add 300 jobs to Memphis. And those little candy treats that are placed on steamboat beds for a goodnight sweet are by Dinstulh’s, making fine chocolates in Memphis since 1902.
Memphis is responding by constructing Beale Street Landing, an ambitious docking facility that can accommodate 50-foot shifts in the Mississippi River’s height.
Before it stopped cruising four years ago, the previous home of the American Queen was New Orleans. Prior to that, the Delta Queen Company that once owned the American Queen and her sisters, the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen, had Cincinnati as homeport.
Sitting at the widest point along the Mississippi River, Memphis was founded in 1818 and named after the Nile River’s ancient capital of Egypt. Today, Memphis has a wealth of attractions and is a mecca for music lovers.
With the historic Peabody Hotel as my home base, I visited as many of those attractions as I could in the two days before I boarded the American Queen for an eight-day cruise to St. Louis.
A longtime Elvis fan, I couldn’t come to Memphis without visiting Graceland and Sun Studio. The city is gearing up for the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ death on Aug. 16. It is also the 30th anniversary of the opening of Graceland to the public. Check out the Memphis and Graceland websites to see what is being planned for that special week.
I also watched the Peabody ducks make their famous march to the lobby fountain and back to their rooftop condo twice a day. And I was lucky enough to be on Beale Street when the Flaming Lips tried to set a Guinness World Record for most live concerts in different cities in a 24-hour span. The band kicked off its eight-city barnstorming effort at Handy Park on Beale Street. Then hundreds of motorcycles came roaring in for Bike Night on Beale Street.
For the next few blogs, I’ll share some of the joys I discovered in the river city. Then we’ll board the American Queen and see what we find there. Come along for the ride. Mighty Memphis sand the beautiful American Queen are sure to make a great team.