Kimmswick, Missouri |
314 Market Street
This historic riverfront town of Kimmswick, Missouri, is nestled among tall trees and rolling hills along the Mississippi River, just 22 miles south of St. Louis. Take I-55 south to Exit 186, east to Hwy. 61-67, south to Hwy. K.
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by Betty Moore, SLFP.com
KIMMSWICK, MO, (SLFP.com), September 10, 2015 - Residents, merchants and local officials from the historic community of Kimmswick gathered, Thursday afternoon, September 10, on the grounds of the Anheuser Estate for the long awaited announcement that their town was to be the new homeport for the legendary Delta Queen riverboat.
Following a drenching rain storm that blew through Jefferson County, Delta Queen Steamboat Company officials proudly announced that its new corporate headquarters will be located just south of St. Louis.
"We are thrilled to designate the port of Kimmswick as the new homeport for the Delta Queen and look forward to returning the city to the important American riverboat town it once was," said Cornel Martin, President and CEO of Delta Queen Steamboat Company, as the crowd cheered and clapped loudly. Many residents were dressed in period costumes for the special occasion.
Martin stated that their search for a new homeport began nearly three years ago. "We said early on that we were going to embark on a search for a partner community who wanted the Delta Queen and who wanted us to be part of their community and who we would want to be part of our family."
When asked why he was so passionate about the riverboat, Martin told his friends that The Delta Queen has a personality all her own. "When you look at her, you say, 'We can't let this go because of what she represents and what she has done for her country.'"
Martin related that Delta Queen began service as an overnight passenger vessel in 1927, carrying passengers, cargo and automobiles between Sacramento, Calif. and San Francisco, Calif.
"She was enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II and painted battleship grey," he continued. "It's said that the Delta Queen actually carried the first wounded soldiers coming home from Pearl Harbor from hospitals ships anchored in San Francisco Bay to waiting ambulances which took them to hospitals in San Francisco and Sacramento," Martin stated.
He proudly noted that at the end of the war, the Delta Queen hosted the meeting of international leaders of what later became the United Nations.
The vessel was sold as war surplus to Captain Tom Greene, owner of the Greene Line Steamers of Cincinnati, Ohio. From 1946 to 2008, the Delta Queen operated as an overnight cruise vessel along many of the prominent rivers and waterways running through America's heartland and deep South, including the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Arkansas Rivers. The vessel operated as a dockside hotel in Chattanooga, Tenn. from 2009 until 2014.
In an interview pior to the announcement, Ken Walker, county executive, Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation, said the development is projected to bring in about $18 million annually. In addition to creating jobs locally, he stated that with people coming in and staying in local hotels and coming down to ride the Delta Queen, it's an exciting time for Jefferson County.
Walker added that there are still issues that need to be resolved from a legislative perspective, funding and matching grants. "They still have to get an exemption from the federal government to be able to take the riverboat out with more than 50 people. With the exemption, the Delta Queen will be able to take out about 175 people," he stated.
Almost on cue, the sun broke through the massive clouds and the festivities concluded with the high school band playing loudly. As tug boats pushed barges along the Mississippi River, folks spoke excitedly about Kimmswick's bright future, thanks to the hard work and determination of residents and the hospitality of local merchants.
"If it wasn't for Mary Hostetter, owner of The Blue Owl Restaurant, and her levy-high, apple pie, we wouldn't have the Delta Queen here in Kimmswick," laughed Pat Lamping, executive director, Economic Development Corporation of Jefferson County.
Lamping added with a big smile, "For the first time that I'm aware of, she actually gave one to the Delta Queen and that's something that never happens."
Perhaps, dreams really do come true in Kimmswick.
Anyone interested in seeing the iconic Delta Queen cruise again should contact their U.S. representative and senators and urge them to support House Bill 1248 and Senate Bill 1717.
KIMMSWICK, MO, (SLFP.com) - In 1859, a German dry goods merchant, Theodore Kimms, purchased about 160 acres of land from the widow of Captain George Waters. Kimms laid out the small town and named it after himself. The early German community was settled by wealthy families from St. Louis and immigrant stonecutters.
The town prospered early on due to easy access to railroad and river transportation. According to Nadine Garland, past President of the Kimmswick Historical Society, the early community of 1,500 was served by a post office, 4 schools, 2 train stations, a dentist and several doctors. "The town boasted a bank, hotel, flouring mill, iron works foundry, lumber mill and brewery. Many who settled in Kimmswick were stonemasons. They cut the limestones to build the Old Courthouse in St. Louis from the quarries surrounding Kimmswick," said Garland. She noted that at one time there were 14 mineral springs in the area which were the source of salt used by the early American Indians.
After the turn of the century, the town was bypassed and almost forgotten with the coming of automobiles, Garland explained. Many historic buildings fell into decay and were torn down. The loss of boat and train traffic and the building of nearby Hwy 55 almost sealed the fate of Kimmswick.
However, in 1969, Lucianna Gladney Ross, led an energetic movement to save the town. An active Kimmswick Historical Society continues the effort of restoration and now has a museum in what was once the Kimmswick Bible Church at 3rd and Vine Streets.
During the "Great Flood of '93", the town of Kimmswick was saved through the efforts of thousands of volunteers and the National Guard who sandbagged and built the earthen levee. Today, the little town has a population of about 150 people who live and work in many original buildings that have been lovingly restored. Several "saved" historic log buildings have been moved from other areas and re-assembled to preserve history.
Visitors to Kimmswick can step back in time to spend a delightful afternoon browsing through numerous antique, artisans and collectibles shops.
Just west of Kimmswick, the 425-acre Mastodon State Historic Site preserves an important archaeological site containing the bones of American mastodons. A museum tells the natural and cultural story of the area. Visitors can enjoy the picnic grounds and hiking the Tom Stockwell Wildflower Trail. The museum hours are Monday thru Saturday, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and Sunday, noon - 4:30 p.m. During winter months, November - March, please call (636) 464-2976 to verify hours.
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