Delta Queen makes last trip through Memphis

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Delta Queen Riverboat is taking its last night trip on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and dozens of passengers have jumped at the chance to ride down the river into history.

Over the years, the Delta Queen has taken thousands of people up and down the Mississippi River. So as you can imagine, there is a lot of emotion surrounding the last voyage.

"Partly sentimental. Partly being a part of history. You know, to see a grand lady kind of go ch-ch-ch go down and rest shall we say," Marion Nusecabel on Cincinnati, Ohio said.

Long time delta queen riders from Ohio, to Iowa to Tennessee jumped at the chance to make the last trip.

In 82 years the delta queen has been the favorite for a lot of people.

"Its a natural treasure. It really is. And it's a shame to have that boat put out of service for political purposes," former barge captain Doyle Rowton said.

Supporters of the Delta Queen said a government transportation committee's concerns about the wooden boat catching fire is the reason the coast guard did not re-certify the boat to travel with overnight guests.

It is a tough break for 150 crew members and passengers who began riding on the boat when they were just kids.

A number of the farewell riders are part of the Save Our Delta Queen group that has been fighting to keep the boat afloat.

Many promise to keep up the fight even though the vessels days are numbered.

A concert and other activities honoring the Delta Queen got underway Thursday afternoon at the river dock right in front of Harbortown. Thursday evening, the boat will continue its journey toward New Orleans and into retirement.

Click here to e-mail Ben Watson.