Julia Belle Swain

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Julia Belle Swain at La Crosse, 2007

The Julia Belle Swain is a steam-powered sternwheeler currently operating out of La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA.

Designed and built in 1971 by Capt. Dennis Trone, the Julia Belle was the last boat built by Dubuque Boat & Boiler Works of Dubuque, Iowa. The boat's steam engines were built in 1915 by the Gillett and Eaton Company and originally installed on the central wheel ferryboat City of Baton Rouge. The engines have logged well over a million miles. The steamer was featured prominently in the 1973 movie "Tom Sawyer" (as the "River Queen") as well as the 1974 movie "Huckleberry Finn."

Performed on the steam calliope of the Str. Julia Belle Swain

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The Julia Belle was formerly based in Peoria, Illinois, making short excursions on Peoria Lake and two-day round trip cruises to Starved Rock State Park. Singer-songwriter John Hartford ("Gentle on My Mind") was a frequent guest pilot and often mentioned the Julia Belle in his songs. Later, the boat ran on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The Julia Belle, smaller and nimbler than some of its sisters on America's rivers, has entered the Great Steamboat Race twice, in 1975 and 1976. She won in 1976, beating better-known vessels such as the Delta Queen and the Belle of Louisville.[1]

In 2009, the owners of the Julia Belle Swain canceled their season because of the slow economy, and considered putting the steamboat up for sale.[2] In 2013, the Julia Belle Swain was allowed to dock temporarily at Riverside Park in La Crosse.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ""Great Steamboat Race History"". Kentucky Derby Festival, Inc. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  2. ^ Cahalan, Steve (2009-04-01). "Boat for sale? Owners won’t operate Julia Belle Swain this summer". La Crosse Daily Tribune (La Crosse, Wisconsin: Lee Enterprises). 
  3. ^ Julia Belle Swain to dock in Riverside Park temporarily

External links[edit]