CRESTVIEW — More than a century before megaships with populations the size of an average town plied the Caribbean, Americans’ cruise vacations were aboard elegant paddlewheel steamboats.

CRESTVIEW — More than a century before megaships with populations the size of an average town plied the Caribbean, Americans’ cruise vacations were aboard elegant paddlewheel steamboats. 

“Steamboatin’: The Original All-American Vacation,” an exhibit through July 5 in the Crestview Public Library lobby, recalls those days of Victorian opulence. 

Artifacts from private archives include pieces from the now-defunct Delta Queen Steamboat Company and New Orleans steamboat historian Paul Nelson. 

Patrons may view dinnerware from the National Historic Landmark “Delta Queen” and learn about the grandest of all steamboats, the 1878 “J.M. White,” also known as “the mistress of the Mississippi.” 

Shipyard trim scraps hint at the graciousness of the “American Queen,” today operated on America’s western rivers by new owners in Memphis. 

A pewter goblet and a stateroom door placard are among the few artifacts that remain from the “Mississippi Queen,” sold for scrap in 2009 to cover New Orleans wharfage fees. 

Materials on display include signage, boat models, a bottle of Steamboatin’ Amber beer brewed exclusively for the Delta Queen boats, Great Steamboat Race buttons and 19th-century steamboat photos from the Natchez, Miss., Gandy collection.


“Steamboatin’: The Original All-American Vacation” is on display through July 5 in the Crestview Public Library lobby.