Historic Delta Queen Headed for Final Big River Voyage

MEMPHIS, TN - Wooden paddle-wheeler Delta Queen will make her last overnight cruise next year unless the federal government extends the riverboat's exemption from modern fire codes.

The ship built in 1926 has carried three presidents and a princess on the Mississippi River, among other notables.

A group organized by a riverboat enthusiast, savethedeltaqueen.org, is campaigning to renew the exemption.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently declined to extend the 10-year exemption, citing fears that the ship could become a fire hazard.

Under the terms of the 1960 Safety of Lives at Sea Act, ships with more than 50 staterooms must be constructed of inflammable materials.  The Delta Queen accomodates 176 passengers.

The company that owns the Delta Queen, the Seattle-based Majestic America Line, said it is planning a special send-off for next year's last cruises.

The Delta Queen was en route from Memphis to Little Rock on a seven-day cruise yesterday.  It's final voyage is set for October 31, 2008.

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