Steamboat to come to Winona once again - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Steph Anderson

Steamboat to come to Winona once again

WINONA, Minn. (KTTC-DT)-- It was a part of Winona's landscape for a long time, until 2008. That's when cranes demolished the Julius C. Wilke steamboat, ending an era that had helped to define the river city. Now, rumor is circulating that something big is headed Winona's way.

Riverboats were once a tradition, sauntering up and down the Mississippi River. These giant beauties were workhorses, lugging materials and people. But they would eventually begin to vanish.

For Winona, a city that relied heavily on the boat tourism, the demolition of the city's own Julius Wilke was what silenced an iconic era.

Aside from the barges, the Mississippi river has been much quieter since showboats and paddleboats have left. But here in a Winona, in a couple of years, that could be changing.

A showboat much like the Queen City is currently being built by a Connecticut-based business. It's scheduled to begin running the Mississippi and making stops in Winona in 2012.

Marriane Mastenbrook, an archivist at the Winona County Historical Center, is happy with the news.

Marianne says, "We would love to have something on the levee again that depicts the steamboat days like the Wilke that was taken down."

Railroads, safety concerns, and other reasons would eventually pull many of the boats that visited Winona, such as the Delta Queen, off the River. Those boats brought people from all over the world to river cities like Winona. It was an economic plus, as well.

Marianne says, "Most of them had money. Let's put it that way, and they spent it. And they enjoyed being able to see it because Winona is a very pretty city."

It won't be like the old times when the new boat arrives, but it will at least offer a sample of a simpler time.  A time that built up towns along the powerful Mississippi River to what they are today.

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