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Belle of Louisville

Louisville’s “Legendary Lady” turned 92 in 2006 but is still looking great. An historic landmark and local treasure, the Belle of Louisville is the oldest river steamboat still operating in the U.S.

Built in 1914 by James Rees & Sons of Pittsburgh for the West Memphis Packet Company, the steamboat first launched as the Idlewild on October 8, 1914. She first arrived at Louisville in 1931, providing seasonal passage between a local amusement park and a resort about 14 miles upriver. Later, as the Avalon, the steamer became the most widely traveled in the country.

By the 1960s, the Avalon was in disrepair and headed for the scrap heap. Luckily, it was auctioned and rescued by Jefferson County for only $34,000. The steamer was rechristened the Belle of Louisville in 1963.

Following extensive restoration, the Belle has become one of Louisville’s most endearing tourist attractions. A recent safety inspection indicated that the Belle is in excellent shape and, with TLC, should continue to operate for many years to come.

To learn more about the boat’s history or find out how to take a cruise, visit the Belle of Louisville web site.