Wenstrup hopeful Delta Queeen will return to river

By Frank Lewis

September 27, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

For many years Portsmouth residents could count on seeing Cincinnati’s Delta Queen pass through by way of the Ohio River. The Delta Queen is an American sternwheel steamboat that is a U.S. National Historic Landmark, which has been docked since 2008.

Now it may once again navigate the Ohio River if Wednesday’s House of Representatives passed bill becomes law. Representative Brad Wenstrup, an early cosponsor of H.R. 1691, said he supports reinstating a longstanding grandfather clause for the historic boat from regulations passed after it was built. The exemption expired in 2008 and has kept the boat docked in Chattanooga in recent years.

“This vote is a crucial step to get the Delta Queen back on America’s rivers,” A lifelong Cincinnatian, Wenstrup said. “The boat represents an iconic part of Cincinnati’s history on the Ohio River, and I look forward to the day it will once again dock in the Queen City. I appreciate Steve Chabot’s leadership on this important effort.”

Rep. Steve Chabot, who also represents Cincinnati, sponsored the bill.

“This is something I’ve worked on with Senator Sherrod Brown over the last year,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said in a news conference Thursday morning. “In fact, in May we introduced companion legislation in the United States Senate. I’m delighted that the House has now passed that legislation to save the Delta Queen. This is a Cincinnati treasure that I went on as a kid, and I’m really hopeful that the Senate will be able to take swift action. I’m working to do everything that we can to try to move this quickly in the Senate so that we can take the House-passed legislation, get it passed by the Senate and have it signed into law by the president.”

The Delta Queen began operations in Cincinnati in 1948 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989. The bill passed the House by a vote of 280 to 89 and next heads to the Senate.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.