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9 Day American Queen Steamboat Company River Cruise from St. Louis to Memphis (Quilting) 2022
River Cruise DescriptionFrom the legacies that line the Mississippi River to the corners of creative genius along the Ohio, your riverboat journey promises a wealth of eye-opening experiences and memories. Explore the seismic wonders of New Madrid and the iconic gateway arch of St. Louis, with tales of Paducah’s artisans and the creator of Popeye the Sailor Man peppered in between.
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River Cruise Itinerary
Day 1 St. Louis, MO (Hotel Stay)Enjoy your complimentary stay at the pre-cruise hotel. The evening is yours to become acquainted with the city. Our Hospitality Desk will be located in the hotel, and our friendly staff can assist with everything from general questions about your upcoming voyage to reserving premium experiences. Both American Queen Steamboat Company and local representatives will be readily available to provide you with dining, entertainment and sightseeing options to maximize your time here.
Day 2 St. Louis, MONo city wants to be known as a “fly-over” city. St. Louis, nestled about 300 miles from its more popular cousin, Chicago, has long had that unfortunate designation. But there’s the case to be made for “St. Louie,” as it’s affectionately called, as America’s most hidden gem. The city is typically associated with the Gateway Arch, which stands on the banks of the Mississippi River. At 630 feet, “The Arch” is an architectural marvel that is more than twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty. The stainless-steel-faced landmark pays homage to Thomas Jefferson and St. Louis’ position as the gateway to the West. The city is a vibrant destination that also boasts a wide array of museums, music and theatre venues, and is known for its diverse neighborhoods and the different cultural traditions each one brings forth. Forest Park – almost 50 percent bigger than Central Park – is the crown jewel of St. Louis. offering nearly 1,293 acres of land for biking, walking, golf, tennis, and other sports activities. The park is home to: the St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, the Missouri History Museum, and the Muny amphitheatre. Also worth visiting is the Missouri Botanical Garden, a National Historic Landmark and one of the oldest botanical gardens in the United States. “Botan,” as it’s called by locals, features 79 breathtaking acres of horticultural display from around the world. City Museum, designed by internationally acclaimed sculptor Bob Cassilly, is a 600,000 square-foot interactive museum that appeals to all ages.
Day 3 Chester, ILSamuel Smith is considered the town’s “official” founder because he built the first home here, started a ferry system, and began construction of a mill in 1829. The town was named after Chester, the city in England where his wife Jane Smith was from. The first business in Chester was a general store that opened in 1830 along with a castor oil press established by R. B. Servant. The H.C. Cole Milling Company was founded by Nathan Cole in 1839. It started out as a small sawmill with a corn-grinding attachment which encouraged the townspeople to plant grains, and in a short time the first Cole flour mill was built. In 1916, four investors developed the International Shoe Company in the center of town. At its peak it had more than 1000 employees and was producing thousands of children’s shoes. In 1925, the Prim Hosiery Mill began operations with 50 employees and grew to employ more than 275 people with annual payroll exceeding $700,000. The mill closed in the late 1960s. Elzie C. Segar might as well be Chester’s “unofficial” founder. The Chester native is the brains behind the Popeye the Sailor Man cartoon. Today, Chester is known as the “Home of Popeye” and a 6-foot, 900-pound bronze statue of Popeye stands in a park that bears Segar’s name. Chester not only groomed Segar’s creative talent, but also acted as a muse, providing character inspiration in the form of its own residents. So, enjoy the origin of this childhood classic.
Day 4 Cape Girardeau, MONestled along the western banks of the mighty Mississippi River, you’ll find Cape Girardeau, Missouri – a community rich in history and heritage. For more than 250 years, people have been drawn to Cape Girardeau and the river on which it lies. As you stroll along the riverfront, pause for a moment... you’ll feel the passion that led Mark Twain to write so eloquently about Cape Girardeau in Life on the Mississippi, the inspiration that Gen. Ulysses S. Grant used to lead with firm conviction as he took command of the Union Army in the historic downtown and the warmth and hospitality that community founder Louis Lorimier extended to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, while on the journey of a lifetime as they set forth to explore the Louisiana Purchase on their Corps of Discovery. Cape Girardeau, which has shown hospitality to the likes of Twain, Lewis and Clark, and General Grant, greets today’s guests in the same vein. Whether pedaling along the bike lanes that strip along the city streets, hiking through a state park, walking across one of many covered bridges, shopping for antiques, visiting area wineries, viewing murals that stretch the entire length of the downtown area, or stepping back in time at any number of historic sites, the Show Me State does not disappoint. Peeking through the long-standing architecture and handsome panoramas are moments that will mature into golden memories. Take time to embrace legends, discover a simpler time and relive the wonders of the past.
Day 5 Paducah, KYPaducah’s significant American heritage can be traced to the city’s strategic location at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers. Paducah, originally known as Pekin, was settled around 1815 in McCracken County. The community was inhabited by a mix of Native Americans and Europeans who lived harmoniously, trading goods and services. In 1827, William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame, arrived in Pekin with a title deed to the land he now owned. The town was platted out and named in honor of the largest nation of Native Americans that ever roamed North America, the Padouca Indians. Lewis and Clark had made acquaintance with many of them on their trek west. Discover how Paducah played a pivotal role in American history from rivers to railroad transportation, the Civil War to civil rights. Museums and riverfront “Wall to Wall” murals by the Dafford Murals Team weave the story of Paducah’s past and guide viewers to experiences and landmarks throughout the town, where historical markers detail the significance and cultural heritage. In the hands of artists, modern Paducah was thrown into form. Fingertips muddied with passion and eased by the vision of river water glided along the surface to pull up the community and create the National Quilt Museum. Residents backstitch past into present, then bind appreciation for culture – ensuring that the seams of history will not soon come undone. The people of Paducah have taken great care to orchestrate every crevice of its community into a symphony of craft and color.
Day 6 Columbus, KYColumbus, the oldest town in Kentucky’s Jackson Purchase, was first settled in 1804 on the Mississippi floodplain. Initially it was known as Iron Banks after the site’s French name “les rivages de fer.” The name was changed to Columbus in honor of the Italian explorer in 1820, the year the town received its first post office and was formally established. It was the original Hickman County seat before the transfer of the court to the more central location of Clinton. In 1861, after the Civil War broke out, the town was seized by Confederate forces, who fortified the site building Fort de Russey, overlooking the Mississippi. Confederate general Leonidas Polk attempted to string and maintain a large anchor chain across the entire river at Columbus to block Union traffic downriver. Columbus was also the northernmost spur on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. The Union responded by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant engaging the Confederates at Belmont on the Missouri shore. This was Grant’s first direct combat during the war. These actions are today commemorated at Columbus-Belmont State Park near Columbus. The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 deluged the town, as well as many areas downriver in the Mississippi Delta, where hundreds of thousands of acres were flooded. Survivors moved the town of Columbus, rebuilding it on higher ground above the flood plain. Some of the original houses were saved and moved inland. Given its isolated location in a rural area and the decline in river traffic, the town has lost population for years.
Day 7 New Madrid, MONew Madrid is famous for being the site of a series of more than 1,000 earthquakes in 1811 and 1812, caused by the New Madrid Seismic Zone. During your visit to this port, explore the history of earthquakes in addition to Native American artifacts and Civil War artifacts. Located on the river in the former Kendall Saloon at the foot of Main Street, the New Madrid Historical Museum reflects the history of the town from the Mississippian period up through the early 20th century. The Native American culture known as The Mississippian rose in the Mississippi Valley around 700 AD and lasted until approximately 1400 AD. The primary site of the Mississippians was near present-day St. Louis. The main settlement in the New Madrid area has come to be known as the Lilburn Fortified Village Site. The Museum is fortunate to have hundreds of items from this period from pottery to jewelry to stone tools and points. The Great Quakes of 1811-12 are also well documented in the Museum’s collections as is the potential for future seismic activity. The Great New Madrid earthquakes began on December 16th, 1811. On that day three quakes estimated to have been anywhere from 6.5 to 7.7 in magnitude struck the region in a natural disaster that would impact a huge chunk of North America. Almost 2,000 earthquakes hit in a three-month period and caused upheaval that lasted for years. The New Madrid area still experiences regular shakes and is at risk for large quakes in the future.
Day 8 Ashport Landing, TNAshport Landing is situated southwest of Golddust and northeast of Ashport Revetment, a levee with an elevation of 223 feet. Ripley, the county seat, lies 14 miles to the east and Memphis is 40 miles north. Strategically placed above our boat’s docking area on the Chickasaw Bluffs is Fort Pillow, built by Confederate Brigadier General Gideon Johnson Pillow in early 1862 and used by both sides during the war. Fort Pillow is rich in both historic and archaeological significance. One of the most controversial battles of the Civil War occurred here. The Battle of Fort Pillow – also known as the Fort Pillow massacre – was fought on April 12, 1864. The battle ended with a massacre of 221 Union soldiers (many of them blacks) attempting to surrender. Military historian David Eicher concluded: “Fort Pillow marked one of the bleakest, saddest events of American military history.” Today, at Fort Pillow State Historic Park, among the restored fortifications, you can study cannons and other artifacts along the 20 miles of trails.
Day 9 Memphis, TN (Disembark)As the journey concludes, there are other opportunities for you to take in the town. Enjoy the city at your leisure, or consider an airport transfer.
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