The American Queen is scheduled for a stop Wednesday in Davenport, and the hope is that the grand lady of the Mississippi River will have its paddlewheel reattached and in working order.
When the riverboat passed through Lock and Dam 15 on Tuesday en route to St. Paul, Minn., a tugboat helped it through the lock and the paddlewheel was missing.
“On an earlier voyage our chief engineer noticed that a stress fracture had developed on the paddlewheel shaft,” Ted Sykes, president and chief operating officer of the American Queen Steamboat Co., said in a recent news release. “We decided to remove the shaft and send it to a shipyard and have it rebuilt. The paddlewheel was disassembled and the shaft sent to Bollinger Shipyard in New Orleans. The shaft has now been rebuilt and is in Alton, Ill., getting reassembled with its spokes and bucket boards.”
Michael Hicks of the Miami office of Lou Hammond & Associates, which handles media inquiries for the American Queen Steamboat Co., said the 40-ton paddlewheel is using its Z-drives to propel it, while the tugboat is alongside as a precaution. The Z-drives act as outboard motors below the boat.
The riverboat was given permission to continue on to Red Wing, Minn., on Friday, where it spent the day.
At 418 feet long, the American Queen is the world’s largest authentic paddlewheel steamboat. It has room for 436 passengers. It was built and entered service in 1995.
The American Queen’s home port is the Beale Street Landing in Memphis.