I like to take pictures of sunrises, so I left for work a little early Thursday morning in case I found a nice one. As I crossed O’Neal Bridge, there she was, this huge riverboat called the American Queen 436 passenger boat built in 1995. Since I already had pictures of the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen parked from the bluff in Sheffield, I had to have one of this riverboat. I crossed back over the bridge, got my pictures and was a little late for work. Oh course my boss caught me sneaking in.
Formerly owned by Majestic America Line, the Queen sat in a government impound yard for four years before being sold to the Great American Steamboat Co. for $15 million. After six million in improvements she is sailing the seas again. A sad fate befell her sister ship, the Mississippi Queen, another large riverboat was sold as scrap to a company in China. Another sister riverboat the Delta Queen is a floating hotel in Chattanooga.
After work I went back down to McFarland and back up to the bluff to get some more pictures in better light. The American Queen had made stops in Chattanooga, Huntsville/Decatur area and Wednesday night pulled into McFarland Park in Florence. Passengers had several options of trips to take around the Shoals among them the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Florence and the Helen Keller home in Tuscumbia among other trips. I counted four buses bringing passengers back to the boat while I was in the park. Professor Emeritus Kristina Rice Nugent from Mira Costa College in Carlsbad, CA decided to stay with the boat and was sitting on the bank painting a picture of the American Queen. She was just finishing up as the last of the passengers arrived.
The American Queen left Florence sharply at 5 PM and headed down river for a stop in Savannah Tennessee. I got some quick shots while she was turning around in the river and drove over to the Riverside Park in Sheffield as she paddled by. A visit by the 150 passenger Queen of the Mississippi is being planned in the future.