HomeCruise BoatsAmerican Cruise Lines Purchases Historic 1880s Steam Calliope

American Cruise Lines has acquired a 132-year-old Nichol steam calliope for its new 150-guest paddlewheeler, Queen of the Mississippi.

The historic instrument was originally on the Washington, a paddlewheel steamboat which operated on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers from 1880 to 1938.

American Cruise Lines is restoring the calliope to full operation so it can be installed aboard the Queen of the Mississippi.

Once owned by St. Louis-based Streekfus Line, the Washington was built in Wheeling, W.V., in 1880. Originally named Sidney, the steamboat was renamed the Washington, the name it operated under until it was dismantled in 1938.

The purchase of its calliope includes all its original brass whistles and valves, keyboard, recordings and books, which have all been preserved, and will soon be aboard Queen of the Mississippi.

Unique to this steam calliope is one elevated whistle that sits above the rest, an uncommon feature not known to be on any other existing calliope.

“The instrument perfectly suits our new paddlewheeler,” said Timothy Beebe, vice president for American Cruise Lines. “Blending both old and new, Queen of the Mississippi provides a truly authentic and nostalgic cruise experience, while offering the best and most comfortable accommodations ever available on the Mississippi River. Guests will be truly delighted with the addition of this impressive piece history.”

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