President (steamboat)

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For the 19th century transatlantic steamboat, see SS President. For the English narrowboat, see President (narrowboat). For several Royal Navy screw steamers, see HMS President.
PRESIDENT (Steamboat)
Location St. Elmo, Illinois
Coordinates 39°00′28″N 88°51′28″W / 39.00778°N 88.857915°W / 39.00778; -88.857915Coordinates: 39°00′28″N 88°51′28″W / 39.00778°N 88.857915°W / 39.00778; -88.857915
Built 1924
Architect Midland Barge Co
NRHP Reference # 89002460
Significant dates
Added to NRHP December 20, 1989[1]
Designated NHL December 20, 1989[2]
Removed from NRHP July 13, 2011

President was a steamboat that currently lies dismantled in St. Elmo, Illinois.[3] Originally named Cincinnati, it was built in 1924[4] and is the only remaining "Western Rivers" style sidewheel river excursion steamboat in the United States.[2] She was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989, although these designations were revoked in 2011.[2] Her home ports have been Cincinnati, Ohio; New Orleans, Louisiana; Vicksburg, Mississippi; St. Louis, Missouri; and Davenport, Iowa.


Built in 1924 and then known as Cincinnati, she was originally an overnight packet boat which carried passengers and freight from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Louisville, Kentucky. Her first trip was to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

In 1929, she was acquired by the Streckfus Company which briefly continued her use as a packet boat but then laid her up, until 1932. Streckfus moved her to her new home port of St. Louis, Missouri; over the next two years, the ship was converted to become the largest excursion boat in America. The entire superstructure was rebuilt in steel; and a two-deck-high ballroom was added, as well as a bandstand. It was at this time that she received her new name, President.

Newly converted and newly named, she opened for business in 1934. Streckfus advertised her as "the New 5 Deck Luxury Super Steamer, Biggest and Finest On The Upper Mississippi". She continued tramping (having no fixed schedule or published ports of call)[1] until 1941. (In 1940, she was displaced from her position as flagship of the Streckfus line by the S.S. Admiral.)

In 1941, she switched her home port to New Orleans. Because fuel oil was restricted and many of the young crewmen joined the armed forces with the nation's entry into World War II, tramping was discontinued, and the cruises stayed close to home. After the war, President remained in New Orleans for many years as a popular music venue, featuring concerts by national acts such as U2, Cyndi Lauper, Men at Work, The Little River Band, and The Producers, and performances by New Orleans artists like Dr. John, The Neville Brothers, and The Cold.[5]

Because the wind made maneuvering the big boat difficult, she had her two side wheels removed and replaced by 1,000 horsepower (750 kW) diesel engines in 1978.

She was sold in 1985 and returned to St. Louis as her home port. While there, she was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark on Dec. 20, 1989.

On July 27, 2011, the Department of the Interior issued a press release that included the following line; "Finally, President, a steamboat in St. Elmo, Illinois, had its designation as a National Historic Landmark withdrawn because of a loss of historic integrity."[6][7] The ship was also removed from the National Register entirely.[8]


In 1990, President sailed her last dinner and dancing cruise before undergoing a ten million dollar renovation and conversion into a floating casino. She was purchased by what is now known as Isle of Capri Casinos. In 1991, Iowa legalized riverboat gambling and the President opened in Davenport, Iowa, with 27,000 square feet (2,500 m2) of gaming space.[9] She was the second riverboat casino in the United States in modern times (opening 30 minutes after the first riverboat casino the M/V Diamond Lady opened in Bettendorf, Iowa, which was owned by Bernie Goldstein).[10]

Current status[edit]

President retired from service in 1999 and was reported, in 2004, to be located on the Yazoo River in Mississippi. At that time, she was for sale by Isle of Capri Casinos.[11] She was also located for a time at Treasure Island in Lake McKellar at Memphis, Tennessee.

In January 2009, President was located in Alton, Illinois, where she had been listed by the National Park Service as of November 2007. She was disassembled and moved in pieces to St. Elmo, Illinois, near Effingham.[12][13][14] Although local businesspeople hope to re-assemble her as a non-floating tourist attraction and hotel,[3][15] financing has yet to be secured while the vessel rusts as a heap of scrap metal.[16][dead link]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c "PRESIDENT (Steamboat)". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  3. ^ a b Leisa Zigman (July 21, 2009). "Historic St. Louis riverboat now rusted scrap". KSDK. Retrieved 25 December 2010. 
  4. ^ Maritime NHL History
  5. ^ Doug McCash,"Remembering the Riverboat President music club", Times-Picayune, November 15, 2009.
  6. ^ Adam, Fetcher. "AMERICA’S GREAT OUTDOORS: Secretary Salazar Designates Four National Historic Landmarks". U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  7. ^ "NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK DE-DESIGNATION REPORT" (PDF). U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Gambit Weekly's October 20, 2003 article
  10. ^ Bill Wundram; Linda Cook (6 July 2009). "Riverboat gambling mogul Bernie Goldstein dies". The Quad-City Times. Retrieved 25 December 2010. 
  11. ^ Blake Pontchartrain (26 October 2004). "Gambit Weekly". BestofNewOrleans. Archived from the original on 18 June 2008. Retrieved 25 December 2010. 
  12. ^ Bill Wundram (April 26, 2009). "Putting the President back together again". The Quad-City Times. Retrieved 25 December 2010. 
  13. ^ Monster Moves: President River Boat. Retrieved 25 December 2010. 
  14. ^ "the Pride of the Mississippi". Monster Moves. National Geographic Channel. Retrieved 25 December 2010. 
  15. ^ Tony Reid (13 April 2009). "A $10 million Project Will See the President, a Former Mississippi River Cruise Ship, Morphed into a Floating Hotel and Conference Center on a Lake in St Elmo, Illinois". Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill. McClatchy-Tribune Regional News. Retrieved 25 December 2010. 
  16. ^ Leisa Zigman (June 2009). "Historic St. Louis riverboat now rusted scrap". KSDK. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 

External links[edit]