The Belle of Louisville - photo: Bailey Visual LifeTake a cruise aboard a National Historic Landmark, the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the world: Kentucky's own Belle of Louisville!
With a storied history that goes all of the way back to 1914, the Belle of Louisville is living piece of history that you can not only visit and tour but also charter steamboat cruises or enjoy specially themed holiday celebrations upon.
Initially named the Intrepid and built as a ferry and day packet freighter between Memphis, Tennessee and West Memphis, Arkansas, the Belle of Louisville also ran trips to Rose Island and Fontaine Ferry amusement parks here in Louisville and traveled U.S. waterways from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and Montana to Pennsylvania.
During the 1940's the Intrepid came back to Louisville, serving here and there as a Mississippi River, USO nightspot for the war effort but mainly providing moonlight cruises throughout the Big Band era.
In 1948, the Intrepid was renamed "Avalon" as the dying wish of Ben Winters - Idlewild's Master. A year later, the Belle of Louisville - now the Avalon - was sold to a group of Cincinnati investors and spent the next 13 years becoming the most widely-traveled river steamboat in American history.
The Avalon was purchased at auction in 1962 by a Jefferson County Judge Executive who renamed her the Belle of Louisville. The ship was then repaired and rebuilt to a state of glory and began her new life as a contestant in the first Great Steamboat Race against the Delta Queen. She lost that race but, by the Delta Queen's retirement in 2008, had a winning record against her worthy opponent of 22 to 20.
In October of 2014, the Belle of Louisville celebrated her 100th birthday as America's last true Mississippi river steamboat still in operation and the oldest in the world! The Belle of Louisville has carried over 7 million passengers on America's inland waterway since 1914 - wouldn't it be something to add yourself to history and that awe-inspiring number?
You can! Belle of Louisville is available for tours, cruises, and more!