Visitors from every state in the U.S. rode the Belle last year. As expected, a large number of passengers came from Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee; other states that were well represented include Illinois, California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Georgia. The Belle’s outreach spreads throughout the world – the passenger list includes a solid representation of visitors from Canada and the United Kingdom, but also a surprising number of passengers from Australia, South Africa, and Denmark. Other countries represented include New Zealand, Barbados, Brazil, Poland, Sweden, and Taiwan.
One surprising finding is that passengers from outside Jefferson County made up 62% of the Belle’s ridership in FY2010/2011.
The Belle, recognized as the most traveled and oldest Mississippi-style steamboat in the world still in operation, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989. She will celebrate her 100th birthday in 2014, a notable accomplishment, as the average lifespan of a steamer during the heyday of steamboating was four to five years.
A week’s worth of special events are planned to commemorate the Belle 100thbirthday celebration in 2014, including visits from a number of sister riverboats, parties, cruises, and much more.