LOUISVILLE, KY – Louisville’s historic steamboat is receiving an award from a national engineering group. The New York-based American Society of Mechanical Engineers is designating the Belle of Louisville as their 2010 Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark at a special ceremony on the Belle of Louisville, Friday, April 23, beginning at 6:30 PM. Congressman John Yarmuth and Waterfront Development, President, David Karem, will be present to acknowledge the Belle’s contributions to history.
The ceremony will be from 6:30-7:00 PM in the Belle of Louisville’s ballroom. After visitor’s and media depart, the invited engineer’s and guests will enjoy dinner and a two-hour cruise.
The Great Steamboat Race is an annual event, taking place the Wednesday before the first Saturday of May, three days before the Kentucky Derby as part of the Kentucky Derby Festival. It takes place on the Ohio River as it runs between Louisville, Kentucky and Jeffersonville, Indiana. The race is normally between the Belle of Louisville and the Delta Queen, although other steamboats have participated. The first race was in 1963.
The race begins underneath the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge. Both steamboats race to Six Mile Island, where they turn around to return to the bridge, which is also the finish line. The distance is 14 miles, with an average speed of seven miles per hour (11.27 km/h) for each boat.
The Delta Queen won the first four races, after which its owners refused to race again until the Belle became more competitive. The Queen is a larger boat, with more powerful engines.
As of 2007, where the Belle of Louisville won in a controversial decision by the judges, the Belle has had 22 wins over 19 wins for the Delta Queen.
The winner each year gets to have the “Golden Antlers” until the next race.
Julia Belle Swain in 1975 and 1976 (the latter of which it won)
Natchez IX of the New Orleans Steamboat Company in 1982 (which it won).
Spirit of Jefferson raced in 1999 in the Belle’s stead while the Belle was recovering from sabotage.
Belle of Cincinnati was a contestant in 2002, and followed as an observation boat in latter years.
The previous two are not actually steamboats, as they run by diesel power instead of steam, and now go along with the actual steamboats as a venue for spectators.
Popular viewing areas for the race are the old Water Tower in Louisville, and along Utica Pike in Jeffersonville, especially at Duffy’s Landing.
Now that the Delta Queen is permanently docked at Chattanooga, TN, it is still a great steamboat race.
This year’s race puts the Belle of Louisville up against the Belle of Cincinnati. The Belle of Cincinnati is looking to win this year’s re-match after a loss last year. The boats begin boarding for the race from 4:45 to 5:40 p.m. on April 28, with the vessels shoving off at 5:45, followed by the race at 6 p.m. The event is always popular during the Kentucky Derby Festival.
For more info on the Belle of Louisville or her little sister, the spirit of Jefferson, please visit The Belle of Louisville and Spirit of Jefferson – http://www.belleoflouisville.org
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