The Belle of Louisville is the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the world. Though we know her today as the Belle of Louisville, she was originally named the Idlewild when she was built in 1914 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was designed to be a ferry and day packet vessel (for freight work), and was also outfitted for her later career as an excursion boat. Completely paddlewheel-driven with a steel hull that draws only 5′ of water, she was able to travel on virtually every navigable inland waterway, earning her the distinction of being the most widely traveled river steamboat in the nation. The Belle was named a National Historic Landmark on June 30, 1989.
The other two important components of the Belle operation are the The Spirit of Jefferson and Life-Saving Station #10, the Belle’s office boat that is also known as the Mayor Andrew Broaddus.
Since her berth in 1914, the Belle of Louisville has taken over 7 million people for a cruise on America’s inland waterways. The Belle is America’s last true Mississippi river steamboat still in operation, and she is preparing to celebrate her 100th birthday in October 2014. To learn more about her big birthday celebration visit festivalofriverboats.com.