Brazos Belle

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The Brazos Belle.JPG
Brazos Belle as seen from I-35 in 2008
History
Name: Brazos Belle
Namesake: the Brazos River
Cost: $1,000,000
Out of service: 1997
Struck: 2008
Homeport: Waco, Texas  United States
Fate: Scrapped
General characteristics
Type: Sternwheel riverboat
Length: 160 feet (49 m)

Brazos Belle was a 160-foot (49 m) American riverboat constructed for use on the Brazos River in Texas. Permanently docked in Waco, Texas as a restaurant in 1997, the Belle often hosted dinner parties, receptions, and functions for local Greek organizations. Flooding in 2007 badly damaged the boat; although the Belle was refloated, repairs proved uneconomical, and the Brazos Belle was scrapped late in 2008.

History[edit]

Brazos Belle, originally named Brazos Queen II,[1] was constructed by F.M. Young at a cost of $1 million,[2] the vessel being permanently berthed on Lake Brazos, near Interstate 35 in Waco in 1997 as a result of fluctuating water levels in the Brazos River.[3][4] Young sold the riverboat to Tony Cain, president of Brazos Leisure, Inc.,[5] in 2006.[2] The Belle was a popular restaurant and tourist attraction in Waco, being used for banquets and wedding receptions,[5] although it proved too large to be operated effectively on the river.[1]

In 2006, low water levels on the Brazos River grounded the vessel, leading to it having to temporarily close and lose as much as $70,000 in revenue;[6] in 2007, vandals broke into the boat four times in under two months.[7]

Flooding[edit]

On the morning of March 30, 2007, after heavy rains and flooding of the Brazos River,[3] the bottom floor of the Belle filled up with eight feet of water, and the boat sunk at its moorings.[5] The river, which a year before the flooding was so low it had the Belle sitting on dry ground,[7] rose 26 feet in the week leading up to the flooding.[citation needed] Afterwards, the boat sat underwater until the city began cleanup in the spring of 2008.[8] Several efforts by the city to contact the owners proved unsuccessful, with Cain first being unable to be found for comment for several weeks,[9] then claiming to have returned title of the boat to Young,[2] then declaring bankruptcy, assessing the damage to the Belle at $105,000.[7]

Attempted cleanup and scrapping[edit]

In order to recoup unpaid taxes, the city sold the Belle for $10,000 to local businessmen.[10] The Belle's new owners raised the boat from the riverbottom and planned to move the vessel upstream for repairs.[11] However, a lack of engines and expensive repairs that proved necessary before the vessel could be moved[12] meant that the restoration of the vessel was economically unfeasible, and the Brazos Belle was sold for scrap,[10] being broken up in late 2008.[13]

New Belle[edit]

As of 2011, a different riverboat named Brazos Belle operates from Belle's Landing in East Columbia, Texas, providing dinner tours on the Brazos River. It is claimed to be the first riverboat to sail the Brazos River in 150 years.[citation needed] It made its first voyage on July 31, 2011.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Poehl, Mindy (May 20, 2004). "Brazos River comes alive aboard genuine sternwheeler cruise". Country World News. Sulphur Springs, TX. Retrieved 2011-10-25. 
  2. ^ a b c Associated Press (December 24, 2007). "Riverboat restaurant sinking into Brazos River". Houston, TX: KTRK-TV. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  3. ^ a b "Rising Water Swamps Brazos Belle". Waco, TX: KWTX-TV News 10. March 30, 2007. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  4. ^ Qourzal, Amine (March 3, 2005). "The Spirit of the Rivers in Waco since 2002". The Lariat. Waco, TX: Baylor University. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  5. ^ a b c Mgbenema, Victoria (February 14, 2008). "Belle of the ball asked to leave". The Lariat. Waco, TX: Baylor University. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  6. ^ Copeland, Mike (March 27, 2006). "Low Brazos River Affects Some Businesses". Waco Tribune-Herald. Waco, TX. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  7. ^ a b c Copeland, Mike (September 21, 2007). "Cry me a river: Brazos-based ventures have often hit rough waters". Waco Tribune-Herald. Waco, TX. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  8. ^ Cleanup begins on Brazos Belle after flooding
  9. ^ Copeland, Mike (September 20, 2007). "Riverboat restaurant proprietor's disappearance leaves customers high and dry". Waco Tribune-Herald. Waco, TX. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  10. ^ a b "Water-Logged Brazos Belle Riverboat Being Scrapped". NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. October 29, 2008. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  11. ^ Smith, J.B. (May 15, 2008). "Brazos Belle: The Boat Also Rises". Waco Tribune-Herald. Waco, TX. Archived from the original on February 5, 2013. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  12. ^ Fox, Adam (July 7, 2008). "All Is Not Well For New Owner Of Brazos Belle". Waco, TX: KWTX-TV News 10. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  13. ^ "It's The Death Knell For Waco's Brazos Belle". Bryant/College Station, TX: KBTX-TV. October 29, 2008. Retrieved 2011-10-19. [permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Brazoria County Historical Commission Agenda, September 8, 2011" (PDF). August 30, 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 15, 2012. Retrieved 2011-10-25. 

External links[edit]