Logs - 2004 - Summer - Grand Excursion Flotilla
NOTE .. for a larger version of the photos on this page .. just click on the photo .. NOTE
Grand Excursion Flotilla – 2004
The Grand Excursion is a sesquicentennial re-creation of the 1854 event that celebrated the Railroad connection of the East Coast to the Mississippi River ..
HEADLINE NEWS (WCCO) TV - Minneapolis MN – “In 1854, the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad became the first railroad to reach from the East Coast to the Mississippi River. To celebrate, Henry Farnam of Sheffield and Farnam, contractors for the railroad, proposed an excursion for a select group of stockholders, friends and family. Word spread quickly about the occasion resulting in a 1,200-person entourage traveling by steamboat from Rock Island, Illinois to Saint Paul, Minnesota, and to the Falls of Saint Anthony .. the event has never been celebrated since 1854 sooo this is a once in a lifetime opportunity .. the yearlong event has been in the planning stage for the past six years and it all culminates this week with the Grand Excursion Flotilla on the Mississippi River .. in 1854 when the flotilla finally reached St. Paul .. it arrived a day early catching the city off guard .. Civic leaders waited until the next day to officially welcome the delegation with a huge celebration .. this time around, the Twin Cities will be prepared with several days of festivities over the 4th of July holiday weekend”
.. the Flotilla is part of Grand Excursion 2004.. it kicked off in Chicago and the Quad Cities on Friday June 25 and will be arriving in the Twin Cities on July 3 .. the Riverboats .. including the Delta Queen, Celebration Belle, Harriet Bishop, Spirit of Peoria and many more departed Friday from Bettendorf Iowa .. the boats will travel 10 days to St. Paul .. more than 50 towns in four states are participating in Grand Excursion festivities ..
HEADLINES - WCCO 4 News - Friday, June 25 - Steam engine passenger trains travel from Chicago to Rock Island, (Quad Cites) Illinois ..
HEADLINES - WCCO 4 News - Sunday, June 27 - Tuesday, June 29 - Flotilla and trains travel from Quad Cities to La Crosse ..
.. the following is our ‘Log’ of our trip North to visit Marv’s Grandson Marcus and to take in part of the ‘Great Excursion Flotilla’ on the Mississippi River ..
Tuesday - June 29 2004
- Centennial Harbour Marina – Fort Myers FL - (239) 461-0775 – Mile 136 .. at 11:30am Pete and Pat ( SYNERGY – Plano TX ) drove us to the Fort Myers Airport .. we had a late start on AirTran as our Plane was late getting into the Fort Myers Airport .. but after a late start and a very short stop in Memphis we arrived at the Minneapolis International Airport at 07:00 pm .. we heard over the News that the Mississippi Queen and the Delta Queen were being held up from heading up the River System due to the high water .. HEADLINES – CNN – “The riverboat flotilla heading up river has run into high water on the Mississippi River delaying the arrival of the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen in the area around Hannibal, Missouri. The delay of the two big paddlewheelers won't affect the other boats involved in the 410-mile cruise. All of the other boats are on schedule to be in the Quad-Cities for the opening weekend” .. apparently they were unable to get under a Bridge near Hannibal Missouri .. UFFFF DA .. the weather up North has been very cold and overcast .. but we brought the sun and warm temps .. it was sunny and 82 when we stepped out of the Airport .. Mike and Carol ( RIVERGIRL ) pick us up at the Airport and we drove to Wabasha Minnesota .. after we had decided to head North for the Grand Excursion Flotilla we found out that a number of the Boaters that we had boated with for a number of years when we were boating up North had decided to take in a day cruise aboard one of the Paddleboats .. the Excursion that they had picked out was going to head out on Wednesday morning .. soooo we knew that it was going to be a very short night and right after Carol served up a great dinner and we all hit the sack ..
Wednesday – June 30 2004
– Mississippi Parkside Marina – Wabasha MN - (651) 565-3809 – Mile 767.2 .. we got up at 03:30 am and along with the other boaters from Wabasha were on the road to La Crosse Wisconsin at 04:30 am .. both the ‘Spirit of Peoria’ and the ‘Celebration Belle’ were docked along the River Levy .. a number of the Paddleboats had a number of different opportunities to get out on the River aboard one of the Paddleboats .. when we were making our plans to head North and take in the Grand Excursion Flotilla we had purchased tickets on-line for a day cruse on the Celebration Belle from La Crosse to Winona Minnesota .. the other boaters that we joined for the day were Gary and Anne ( PAST TENTS ) .. Tom and Sandy ( SHANTY ) .. Kent, Kim, Karsen, Cerica, Matt and his girlfriend ( STEVEN RAY ANN ) .. and Mike and Carol ( RIVERGIRL - Wabasha MN ) ..
.. the Celebration Belle is the largest and fastest Luxury Excursion Boat on the Upper Mississippi River .. this ornamental sternwheeler is 190 feet long .. with three enclosed Decks and Outside Deck space on the Third Deck .. She is motor-driven and has a capacity of 800 passengers. Owned and operated by Celebration River Cruises .. a 19-year-old family owned business .. the Celebration Belle was built in 1986 in Pensacola Florida .. Founder and Captain Joe Schadler purchased the Celebration Belle in 1988 when his business outgrew the Company's first steamboat "Queen of Hearts" (which Joe himself built) .. together with his son and fellow Captain Scott Schadler, Joe runs the Celebration Belle from their home port of Moline Illinois .. there is more information and Floor Plans of the Celebration Belle on the Great Excursions Website ..
.. when we made it to La Crosse the weather was 80 plus and sunny .. just great for our day on the Celebration Belle .. just after we made our way on the Celebration Belle the ‘Delta Queen’ passed by us and docked along the Levy just in front of us joined .. a large crowd of people gathered along the River Banks and watched as we pulled off the Levy and headed up the River .. the Bar on the Celebration Belle was serving Bloody Marys at 07:00 am and did a good job all day .. we had a great breakfast on board and the Crew had arranged to have a local historian give us a dialog all day as we traveled up the River .. all the Towboats and other watercraft gave the Steamboats the top priority on the River so we locked through both Locks 7 and 6 without and delays at all .. the Captain of the Celebration Belle said that he heard over the Marine Radio that the flood waters of the River had lowered enough that the Mississippi Queen could clear the Bridge and was now on her way North up the River System .. many of the Cities along the river are throwing festivals to mark the event .. when we were going thru Lock 6 at Trempealeau Wisconsin the entire city turned out to greet us .. and did they put on a show .. Horse drawn Carriages .. many people in 1850s garb .. Bands .. etc. .. it was quite a show .. after locking thru we headed to Winona and were greeted there in the same fashion .. after getting the cars organized and a pit stop at Betty Jos we had a great lunch / dinner at the Jefferson Pub and Grill we headed back to Wabasha and joined the boaters on the 100 BOOM for the night .. UFF DA what a GREAT day ..
HEADLINE NEWS - Delta Queen Catches Up To Grand Excursion - Dubuque, Iowa (AP) - Jun 30, 2004 6:42 am US/Central – “One Queen is finally on board, the other is on the way. The Grand Excursion's riverboat flotilla is almost at full strength .. the Delta Queen and Mississippi Queen .. the event's two marquee boats .. had been stalled at Hannibal, Mo. because the Mississippi River was too high for them to get under a Railroad Bridge .. but the Delta Queen managed to squeeze under the bridge over the weekend and caught up with the five other boats at Dubuque on Monday .. on Tuesday night the larger Mississippi Queen got under the bridge and began churning upriver to try to catch the others .. The Delta Queen steamed nearly nonstop for 48 hours against a swift current to take its place in the flotilla .. "We're back on schedule," said Capt. Gabe Chengery, one of the Steamboat's Pilots .. The Mississippi Queen probably won't reach the others until late in the week.”
HEADLINES - WCCO 4 News - Wednesday, June 30 - Flotilla and trains arrive in La Crosse .. Minnesota and Wisconsin governors compete in riverboat race ..
Thursday - July 01, 2994
– Mississippi Parkside Marina – Wabasha MN - (651) 565-3809 – Mile 767.2 .. we got up at 05:30 am and after a cup of coffee on the RIVERGIRL we took a walk into town .. the City was just starting to come to life with the excitement of the Flotilla coming through the Wabasha area later in the day .. Wabasha was really trimmed out in anticipation of the big event .. many area Crafters had their wears displayed along with the normal ‘Carnival’ type of Food Booths .. we just had to participate in everything including the Eagles Nest Ice Cream Parlor .. Wabasha is the home for the National Eagle Center as well as the film ‘Grumpy Old Men’ and ‘Grumpier Old Men’ .. we talked with Ron and Kay Fogelson ( Fort Myers Beach and Byron Minnesota ) when they came thru the Marina aboard their Runabout ( FOGIES FOLLIE ) .. they spent part of the day taking in the Flotilla aboard the VANESSA MAE with Bill and Vanessa Furlow .. we talked with Jean Fries ( Wabasha Minnesota ) .. she appeared to be running the Flotilla events going on in Wabasha .. Jean and her husband Walt owned and operated the Wabasha Marina when we first boated in the Wabasha area .. we also crossed wakes with John Ayotte ( A YACHT ) from Fort Myers Florida and Wabasha as well as many other friends from all over .. about noon Mike and Carol loaded up the RIVERGIRL and we headed out to spend the afternoon on the River .. as we headed down the Mississippi River we met segments of the Flotilla as they were heading up the River to Saint Paul .. as we approached Lock 4 a number of boats from the Flotilla were just coming out of the Lock including three Riverboats .. once just above the Lock two of the Riverboats ( JULIA BELLE SWAIN and THE SPIRIT of PEORIA ) entered into a race .. it was a sight that none of us had ever seen on the River before today .. and they were headed right up the River at us .. UFF DA !! .. in addition to the Flotilla the waters were filled with most everything that could float .. Canoes, Large Cruisers, Pontoon Boats, high powered Go-Fast Boats, Row Boats, Law Enforcement Boats from both Minnesota and Wisconsin, Flotilla Committee Boats, US Coast Guard Auxiliary Boats and overhead there were News Media Airplanes and Choppers buzzing all around .. it was a real zoo .. if you had boated on the River for a lifetime you could not have seen what we saw on the River in one afternoon ..
.. ‘in the 1800s and thru the turn of the Century the Riverboats were the Pioneers of the Upper Mississippi River System and they were the Kings of the River .. in the 1930s when the Lock and Dam System was built the Towboats took over the River System and this has been unchanged thru today .. but for a few days in the Summer of 2004 the Upper Mississippi River System once again belonged to the Riverboats .. the Towboat Captains pushed their lead Box into the River Bank and watched as the Flotilla drifted up the River .. it will not belong and once again they will own the Upper Mississippi’ – by Marv .. and us Pleasure Boaters on the River only think that we own the River ..
HEADLINES - WCCO 4 News - Friday, July 2 - Flotilla and trains move to Red Wing and Hastings ..
.. for the last number of Months we have been in contact with Dick and Diane Hanson ( SOUVENIR – Afton Minnesota and Destin Florida ) .. they did the Great Loop last year and we enjoyed spending a lot of time with them .. they are now part of the Flotilla Committee and were planning to be thru the Wabasha area about mid-afternoon .. we enjoyed talking with them as they passed thru .. their two grandchildren were aboard the SOUVENIR for the Flotilla .. they have volunteered their 56 foot Carver to be used as a Media Boat for the Flotilla .. Dick said that he and the Flotilla Committee were having a difficult time trying to contact the Mississippi Queen but the last word that he had heard was that it was heading Mississippi River at a high rate of speed with the hopes of catching up with the Flotilla .. once back to the Dock we enjoyed talking Lowell and Ellie ( ODYSSEY - Wabasha MN ) and with a number of other boaters that we have not seen for tooo long of a time .. Jim and Dorothy ( HIETISAMN ) said that they were going to have a Fireworks Deck Party on the top of their boat .. hundreds of Cyclists also were following the Flotilla during a 400 Mile Bike Ride along the Mississippi River Bluffs .. many of the Cyclists camped out at the parks in Wabasha .. after Docktails and a spontaneous dinner thrown together by the 100 Boom Boaters we also watched the Fireworks right from the SHANTY .. the Fireworks took place at dark and the City of Wabasha had a greatest Fireworks display that anyone of had seen at Wabasha .. and it took place right in front of the Marina ..
Friday - July 02, 2004
– Mississippi Parkside Marina – Wabasha MN - (651) 565-3809 – Mile 767.2 .. we got up at 05:30 am and after a cup of coffee .. Mike and Carol drove us to Alma where we had breakfast at the Pier 3 .. the Milwaukee 261 Steam Locomotive departed last Friday from Chicago to Rock Island Illinois and then on to Minneapolis .. the train is accompanying the Grand Flotilla by Rail .. it has been offering rides along the way .. today after making it to Minneapolis the Train is now on its return trip from Minneapolis to La Crosse ..
The Milwaukee Road 261
.. is a coal-burning steam locomotive that the Smithsonian Institution called one of the finest restored historic locomotives operating anywhere in the world .. Premier and first class coaches include parlor and lounge car seating and food and beverage service .. Coach class has light fare available for purchase .. The Milwaukee Road 261 Steam Locomotive does not have a dining car ..
Across the Generations with the 261 - by Steve Glischinski - On September 14, 1993, Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 became the ninth U.S. locomotive of that wheel arrangement in the past 30 years to be returned to service after years of retirement. Like other such restorations, this one was accomplished by people who love steam. Unlike most, the 261 group is intent on making some money with the project. But more important, the rebirth of Milwaukee 261 has a unique link through three generations of one family .. the people of North Star Rail are working on a full slate of activities for 1994. When asked about the company's future, Mike Adams says he wants more people to enjoy the steam experience. "We want to run safe and credible operations. I hope someday we can generate enough revenue to have our own train, own a facility to work on our equipment, and possibly even have more engines," Adams says. "But we really want people to have fun and be educated at the same time." .. Frank Sandberg will turn 92 on January 3, 1994. Despite his age, his family is optimistic that sometime during the year he will again ascend the steps of an S3, and with his grandson at his side take another run along the River Division to Winona. When this comes to pass, the restoration of Milwaukee Road 261 will be complete.
.. after a great breakfast with Mike and Carol we walked to the Overpass that goes over the Railroad Tracks .. we had front row seats as the Milwaukee 261 Steam Locomotive went roaring directly below us .. we heard that the Mississippi Queen should make it to Red Wing Minnesota tonight .. after seeing the 261 Mike and Carol drove us to Eau Claire Wisconsin to Marv’s Condo that is all but sold at this time ..
.. later Marv had lunch with Bud and then he completed some business around town while Betty did some shopping at the Oakwoods Mall .. on our way to Marv’s Mother’s place we picked up the English Muffin Bread that we had ordered from Great Harvest Bread .. we had a great dinner at Peg’s home and then drove to Jewel ( Marv’s daughter ) and Bob’s place in Barron Wisconsin for the night .. it was late by the time we got there and Marv’s grandson Marcus was in bed but we enjoyed checking in on him ..