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American Queen to dock in Vicksburg

American Queen

VICKSBURG — For the first time in three years, the sounds of an authentic Mississippi River steamboat calliope will be heard when the American Queen docks at City Front in Vicksburg.

The Queen was to arrive at 8 a.m. Tuesday and dock until 4 p.m. on its maiden journey since being acquired last year by Great American Steamboat Company of Memphis. Passengers will disembark for day visits to downtown Vicksburg, including tours of the Old Court House Museum and Vicksburg National Military Park.

The riverboat left New Orleans Friday and will head back there following Tuesday’s stop. On Thursday, the boat will return upriver on its second cruise, stop again in Vicksburg April 23 en route to its home port of Memphis.

The Queen was a fixture at the Vicksburg waterfront for many years along with sister ships the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen. Its previous owner ceased operations in 2008, but the American Queen was purchased in August and is being recommissioned by Great American Steamboat Company.

The American Queen was built in 1994. It is 418 feet long and about 89 feet high and fitted with 222 staterooms capable of housing 436 passengers.

Its old-time calliope is fitted with 37 gold-plated brass pipes, according to the website Steamboats.org.

Great American acquired the boat from the U.S. Maritime Administration, an office of the Department of Transportation, for $15.5 million.

About $5 million was spent to ready the ship for the 2012 season.

Other lower-Mississippi River cruises this year will feature day stops in Vicksburg, and in the summer, the city will be a featured city for several Civil War-themed cruises that will originate or terminate here.

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