It is currently Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:59 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 23 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 1:35 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 1:33 pm
Posts: 424
Location: Oroville, CA
The Belle of Louisville, the oldest operating sternwheel stream riverboat in the USA (1914) may no longer operate after this year. From a posting over on Steamboats.org, and a little background, the COI mentioned is the "Certificate Of Inspection" granted by the coast guard. Unlike steam locomotives, which can be "resurrected from the dead" with new form 4s and lots of work, boats do not have such a "Grandfathered clause" in their licensing, except for one with a continuous COI status. You think Railroad preservation is tough--try marine preservation; very few, if any success stories there. Oh and a little more information, last year the engines were completely rebuilt with mostly donations from a local machine shop.

"In today's Courier Journal the management of the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE say the boat needs $700,000 to go through it's 5 year inspection later this year. They don't have to money. If the drydocking is not done on schedule the boat will loose it's COI which means, like what happened to the Delta Queen, all of the old grandfathered regulations would end and the boat would have to be brought up to all the latest regulations. This would be impossible. The City of Louisville is facing, according to the mayor, a 46 million dollar shortfall this year with no funding for the BELLE. The city council is luke warm on trying to fund the BELLE because they already facing cutting essential city services such as fire dept, EMS, police and sanitation. I would say the situation looks dire."
Attachment:
belle-of-louisville.jpg
belle-of-louisville.jpg [ 36.16 KiB | Viewed 2274 times ]

_________________
Steamcerely,
David Dewey
Hoping for the return to the American Rivers of the last overnight steamboat, Delta Queen!


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 1:41 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 662
Owned by the City of Louisville. If the owners don’t want to pay for it, who else is going to?


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 2:23 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 399
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Would be a shame.

I remember the Belle's calliope being audible throughout downtown Louisville.

Did the Belle's stacks set the height for the PRR's "CLAGG" movable bridge?

Phil Mulligan


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 5:49 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:51 pm
Posts: 173
Location: Ipswich, Mass., Phoenix, AZ
Threats of closing the FD, police, etc. always come first to panic the public into accepting higher taxes. The BS favorites rarely get chopped.
Unfortunately, owning a steamboat, no matter how neat, seems like something that probably should be extraneous to the city. Governments can get sucked into things that seem like winners and end up as losers. If it can't support itself then maybe it's time is up.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 6:29 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 1:33 pm
Posts: 424
Location: Oroville, CA
To hear that kind of argument "if it can't support itself, maybe its time is up" here on a preservation site really concerns me, as that argument could be made for most all of preservation. not only preservation, but most all parks and performing art centers too. Most preservation survives by having a "Sugar Daddy" whether it be an amazing endowment, or a successful fund raising/membership campaign-some infusion of outside capital. The Belle of Louisville has been a part of the community for at least a half-century. There is, or was, long term support of having Louisville's own operating steamboat. I hope something can be done to at least get the inspection done; all the recent work on the boat would be for naught, and a real loss of a living bit of our American Heritage.

_________________
Steamcerely,
David Dewey
Hoping for the return to the American Rivers of the last overnight steamboat, Delta Queen!


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 7:01 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 662
In the preservation world there may be a lot of tough pills to swallow in the coming years. I love the old steamboats but the question has to be asked, just like in rail preservation “is it worth it” - the city could keep it docked and rent it out for events possibly? How often does it usually operate?


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 8:27 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 5814
David Dewey wrote:
To hear that kind of argument "if it can't support itself, maybe its time is up" here on a preservation site really concerns me, as that argument could be made for most all of preservation. not only preservation, but most all parks and performing art centers too. Most preservation survives by having a "Sugar Daddy" whether it be an amazing endowment, or a successful fund raising/membership campaign-some infusion of outside capital. The Belle of Louisville has been a part of the community for at least a half-century. There is, or was, long term support of having Louisville's own operating steamboat. I hope something can be done to at least get the inspection done; all the recent work on the boat would be for naught, and a real loss of a living bit of our American Heritage.


David -

That argument of "maybe its time is up" concerns me too. It applies to most preservation (rail, boat or whatever). Preservationists have been butting up against that argument for years. Hopefully, we'll continue to persevere.

As for how often the "Belle" operated, I know that a few years ago when my daughter and her family lived in the Louisville area, we took one of the weekend lunch cruises down (up?) the Ohio. I seem to recall that the posted schedule had quite a few different cruises scheduled. Maybe someone has a recent schedule.

Les


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 2:35 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 1:33 pm
Posts: 424
Location: Oroville, CA
Well, to compare the BOL to a steam locomotive, it would be a Mainline locomotive, the likes of 4449, 611, 844 etc. Now if frequency of operation is of any consequence, the Belle during "season" operates most days, with multiple trips on the weekends, so far more operation times than any of the mainline steamers.
In the past few years a lot of work has been done on the Belle to make it more comfortable for the riders and to restore and upgrade the machinery. As for uniqueness, it is the oldest operational steam sternwheel boat in the world (from their website). In the USA there are about 4 real steam powered sternwheel boat operating, the nearest operation similar to the Belle is the Natchez in New Orleans; a modern (well 1970s, I believe) boat with historical engines.
As for leaving it docked, there is still all the maintenance required to keep it afloat. And what is the attraction to eat on a docked boat, when you can have the same experience in a riverside land-based restaurant--which doesn't have the expense of being kept afloat.
In preservation, docked riverboats have a bad record of survival--most all haven't.
Society is changing, and I don't know how much value it will have in remembering and caring for its past. Scary times ahead. I know of a few locomotive restoration projects that have been sidelined because there is no longer a place on the mainline railroads for them to run.
And why do we even debate about the Belle??? Because if enough people contact the City fathers about the importance of keeping the Belle operational, there might be a chance.

_________________
Steamcerely,
David Dewey
Hoping for the return to the American Rivers of the last overnight steamboat, Delta Queen!


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 8:16 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1450
Location: Youngstown, OH
If people who are involved in preservation and who frequent a preservation forum cannot find it within themselves to support preservation, why would it be expected that anyone else should give a damn?

_________________
Rick Rowlands
J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
"The shortest and narrowest Railroad in Ohio"


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 9:47 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:43 am
Posts: 630
It will die if it's not kept operational. First goes the boilers, then the engines, the running gear, things that won't ever be needed. Who cares if there is a water leak into the wheelhouse, destroyed the radios and instruments and the charts went moldy?

The wheelhouse tours end, the engine room tours end....the boat looks worn and the money slows down and down.

I give it at most 20 years post operation before it's closed for good, most of those last years kept open by a skeleton crew of old fart volunteers who escort wayward tourists and boat nerds around.

It's only chance is if it was dragged onto dry land, preferably with a building over it. It's a big boat but not an ocean liner, it could be indoors. It would cost millions but at least it's lifespan is now extended considerably.

The FRA has expressed willingness to be flexible due to the coronavirus, maybe the USCG might help too? Maybe keep the inspection open while they are down for extended repairs or something.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 11:10 am 

Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:51 pm
Posts: 173
Location: Ipswich, Mass., Phoenix, AZ
Agree with Rick above. Disagree that the USCG will "give them a break" as when and if disaster happens, they will get blamed and heads will roll. Who in Louisville wants their taxes raised to pay for this? Too bad but if no wealthy God father happens along, it's probably over.

Probable future is as follows:
http://www.howardsteamboatmuseum.org/a- ... the-becky/


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 11:53 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
Posts: 1289
Location: Back in NE Ohio
Sounds like interested locals in Louisville should start looking into creating a non-profit agency, separate from municipal ownership for the boat. Might be easier to find larger corporate donors in the community to fund it under those circumstances, and that method of ownership would not preclude municipal participation when times are better for the city. A lot of cities have such agencies to own and operate museums and historic attractions that get mixed private/public funding.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 12:19 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9594
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
Here's a fundamental problem:
It's owned by a government entity (or so it's being presented).

Sadly, any time a government entity is involved with the operation or preservation of a historical site. building, collection, etc., the general public views itself as "off the hook" for it. It doesn't even matter if the site is leased to or completely operated and administered by a non-profit. If it's "the city/state's," there goes the popular public support for it. And in some cases, public support has waned for places MISTAKENLY assumed to be suckling at the public teat--places such as the B&O Railroad Museum or the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, as but two examples. (It seems not to matter how many times you put "independent, 501(c)3 non-profit" in the brochure or on the website--the voters who presume this government support/ownership will probably never see either.)

Further, we have long seen that the maintenance and storage of such large water craft is among the biggest "money sucks" possible, even more than a large, mainline steamer. It's very likely that only government ownership for the sake of history and heritage can justify keeping such a massive operation afloat or even intact--the same scenario we see with Steamtown, the Queen Mary, and the SS United States. And a sloppily-administered operation or management will quickly cause the taxpayers to question the wisdom and feasibility of such preservation.

You can lament all you want that "you folks don't seem preservation-minded on a preservation forum!", but I for one refuse to let emotions sway the hardened realism necessary to properly examine the options available. Too often, we get pushed deeper into trouble or debt by people wailing "Won't SOMEONE think of the children?!?" or the like.
Honestly, I can't see a realistic, practical solution to this quagmire, and I challenge someone else to come up with one. (With the proviso, of course that simply "throwing other people's money" at a problem is NOT realistic or practical.)


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2020 10:21 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2386
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
As long as there is a plan to repair the Belle, I believe it is possible to keep the certificate valid. The steamer Virginia V in Seattle kept its COI through a 6 year rebuild in 1995-2002.

The Belle is the most important, and really only, link to riverboats. It is the only original "Western Rivers" boat in operation. All the others are replicas with salvaged engines, and the Delta Queen is from California, and a different design.

The Belle is the only operational, shallow draft, sternwheeler with authentic non-condensing, drop valve engines. It still uses steam auxiliaries such as steering and captstan.

The Belle has operated longer in Louisville preservation than it has in commercial life. It is a major emblem of Louisville.

_________________
Steven Harrod
Lektor
Danmarks Tekniske Universitet


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: OT Marine Steam: Belle of Louisville in dire need
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2020 11:04 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:06 pm
Posts: 16
Steven Harrod has it right. The Belle of Louisville is the last authentic link to the Mississippi River style steamboat era made famous by Mark Twain. She is incredibly original and operates very frequently on sightseeing and dinner cruises. I'm not a big boat fan but I will say that sailing on the Belle's deck listing to her literally chug up river is one of the more relaxing experiences I've ever had.

This is really something to rally behind folks. I don't know what the solution is but if you can envision a day where the last original steam locomotive could be retired and all we have left are 2-3 replicas and some diesels in steam engine disguise, that is what we are talking about here in the world of riverboat preservation.


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 23 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


 Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], steamfan765 and 26 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: