The riverboat, shown in this photo and named the Belle of Louisville, is having a 100-year birthday party, and YOU are invited! I took this photo of the beautiful piece of history, when it was participating in "Tall Stacks", held in Cincinnati, Ohio, a while back. Just as the street cars in San Francisco have been declared a National Historic Landmark, likewise the Belle of Louisville was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989. It is completely paddlewheel-driven, and draws only 5 feet of water. It is the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the world!
For six days in October, along a beautiful waterfront park on the Ohio River, there will be a huge celebration of riverboat heritage, with live performances from a wide genre of musicians. The Louisville, Kentucky, event is called the Centennial Festival of Riverboats, and is being held October 14 - 19, 2014. Besides the gathering of nine riverboats from across the United States. The Centennial Festival of Riverboats has been rated as one of the Top 100 events in North America in 2014.
The great thing about going to live musical performances in a riverfront park location, is the "backdrop" of cruising riverboats, as one enjoys the sounds of the music.
And, if the performance stage is away from the river's edge, local artists can display their talent with a make-believe stage background!
Just as the Spirit of Cincinnati is shown lining up for a special race on the day I took this photo, so there will be steamboat races in Louisville.
Often at these big riverboat festivals in the USA, there are so many big boats participating, that they cannot all have direct access to the dock. In that case, the boats "raft up" together, and guests must cross the bow of one boat, to gain access to the boat on the far side.
Of course, being so close to another boat's passenger deck, filled with folks like yourself who are there to have a good time, leads to some interesting banter back and forth!
The Spirit of Peoria was at the Cincinnati event, and will also be at the Louisville festival. This boat captain has at his command, two Caterpillar 3412 diesel engine generator sets that will take him up and down the river with ease, even when the boat is loaded down with passengers!
This beautiful floating palace is said to be one of the last true paddle wheelers. At the website, you can buy tickets to take a ride on a variety of different paddle wheelers in attendance. Besides buying a ticket to be on board for the Parade of Boats or the Opening Ceremonies, you can also buy tickets for an actual race!
When you read that there will be races at the event, and you see how big the boats are, and the limited width of the river, you may ask yourself, "How is that going to work?" The answer is, all of the boats do not line up all at once, and go full power at the sound of the starting gun. Rather, the competition is divided into segments, with two boats racing against each other, and the winner progressing forward, like in a basketball tournament.
When you see how low these riverboats sit down in the water, you can understand their widespread appeal back in the "olden days" of North America's history.
The General Jackson is shown in this photo, and it, too, is scheduled to be in Louisville for the festival. It is a 300 foot paddle wheeler and claims to be one of the largest showboats in the country. It has 4 decks, with a two-story Victorian theater, where live music shows perform.
I took this photo of a storyteller in period costume, at the Cincinnati event, and news releases about the Festival of Riverboats in Louisville, indicate that there will also be storytellers stationed in waterfront park around the boats, to entertain visitors with tales of yesteryear.
Steam cannot only power a boat up and down a river, but it can also be harnessed to play a melody. Getting to hear the sounds from the gleaming brass pipes on the Calliope of one of the boats, was a first for me!
If you are a small boat owner and think you will just drive your motorboat up to the event, and access it from the water, you may want to do some further investigation. When I have attended big river festivals such as this, there is a strictly-enforced perimeter of restricted water surrounding the official site of the festival. You can still enjoy boating on the river, but perhaps not as close to the action as what you would like. I took a photo of these private boats on the Ohio River, quite a ways down stream from the festival boat headquarters.
In October, one starts to see advertisements for "haunted house adventures" or a "spook house", and water festivals adjust the theme slightly and have a "haunted boat" tour.
Although this bridge over the Ohio River is plenty high enough to avoid touching the tall stacks of this riverboat, most of the original steamboats had stacks that were hinged, so they could be lowered when passing under bridges.
There will be a variety of cruises offered, such as meal cruises, sightseeing cruises, fireworks cruises, and dance cruises. I took this photo of a band performing on the upper deck of the General Jackson, to a very appreciative audience, during one of the evening sunset cruises!
I took this photo of a riverside church on one of the afternoon sightseeing cruises. Just as boats may have the word "spirit" in their name, this church is also associated with the word "spirit". In fact, it was the Holy Spirit that got me to remembering the photos I had taken at the Cincinnati Tall Stacks festival. I was trying to think of a visual aid that would help me with one of the memory verses for the current session of First Place 4 Health ( www.firstplace4health.com ) that I am leading at church ( www.myfbcmh.com ). The verse says "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17
In the USA, we not only have freedom in the Lord, but we have the freedom to travel! So get out there and enjoy this big beautiful country we have! Feel the spirit of exploration as you learn about riverboat history, by actually taking a ride on one! Just log on to www.festivalofriverboats.com to get your tickets. You can check out other activities in the Louisville area by visiting www.gotolouisville.com . This rollin'-on-the-river adventure will give you many "nautical" MILES OF SMILES! Tricia