|| Steamboats once were the way to travel
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More than 170 years ago, when settlers first began arriving in what is now the Quad-Cities, there were no roads, only rough trails.
There was one good way to travel: on the broad Mississippi River, which was like an interstate highway for pioneers and Native Americans.
Many kinds of boats have been used on the river. Before the first steamboats, about 175 years ago, Indians were paddling canoes made of logs or bark.
When the pioneers came, they floated downriver on flatboats or pushed their boats along with poles. Early farmers and businessmen would put items they wanted to sell on these boats, then float down the river for hundreds of miles. When they got where they were going, they would sell their flour or corn. Sometimes they'd sell the boat, too.
The invention of the steamboat made travel on the river a lot easier. Many of the old steamboats were huge; one was longer than a football field and higher than a four-story building,
But steamboats were dangerous as well. Hundreds blew up or sank, and parts of them still lie on the bottom of the Mississippi.
Steamboats survived the incursion of railroads, but the riverboat era ended in the early 20th century as highways and bridges took over much of the nation's commerce.
Excursion boats began reappearing in the Quad-Cities in the 1980s as the area turned its eyes toward recreation on the Mississippi riverfronts; and the big boats returned with the legalization of riverboat gambling in the 1990s.
Want to watch the scenery float by this spring or summer?The Quad-Cities area features three seasonal non-gaming excursion boats.
This 800-passenger luxury excursion boat, operated by Celebration River Cruises, made its maiden voyage in 1998. The four-deck riverboat is the largest non-gaming luxury excursion vessel on the Upper Mississippi River.
The Celebration Belle offers lunch, dinner, prime-rib dinner, and specialty cruises featuring live entertainment; this year's cruising season starts April 5. It is also available for private banquets, proms, and business events. Day cruises are offered, including bus transportation back to Moline. The boat also is available for holiday and private parties year-round.
The boat is docked at 2501 River Drive, Moline. For more information, call (309) 764-1952 or (800) 297-0034 or visit www.celebrationbelle.com.
(For a story on the Celebration Belle, turn to page 11)
Channel Cat Water Taxis
The two Channel Cats, 48-passenger ferries, connect the Moline, Bettendorf, Davenport, and East Moline riverfronts. All-day passes are available for $6 for adults, $3 for children ages 2 to 10, and free for those younger than 2 accompanied by an adult.
Service is offered from 11 a.m. to 7:40 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 7:50 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 9 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Memorial Day through Labor Day.
For more information, call(309) 788-3360 or visit www.qcchannelcat.com.
(For a story on the Channel Cat, turn to page 10)
The Twilight cruise offers a two-day, round-trip cruise from LeClaire, Iowa, up the Mississippi River to Dubuque. Round-trip cruises leave every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Rates include all meals, accommodations, sightseeing and activities.
Advance reservations are required. Cruising will be offered this year from May 31 through Oct. 2. For more information, call (800) 331-1467 or visit www.riverboattwilight.com.