The William M. Black Steamboat

While visiting Dubuque, I decided to go and explore the Port area, coming across a Museum (The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium) that sat against the Mississippi River.  Two beautiful bridges surrounding the area, the Museum had sea life, along with a full steamboat and other marina vessels to tour.

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The dredge known as the William M. Black, was 277 feet long and 85 feet wide. One of the last steamboats to use steam in the 1930’s before diesel power replaced it. The US Corps used the vessel from 1934 to 1973 for opening important navigation channels. It would burn up to 7,000 gallons of oil a day, making it capable of dredging more than 75,000 cubic yards PER DAY!

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The Steamboat had a machine shop, two boilers with large smokestacks, two paddle areas, and a pump engine. Off the machine side, there were several living quarters, staterooms, storerooms, food prep and kitchen area, and captain and engineer’s rooms.

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A tour guide welcomes you onto the boat and then it’s a free for all on how you would like to tour. Everything was open to look at an explore, but they’d like you to follow the arrows on the ground to keep everyone from gathering together due to Covid.

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I was alone, I didn’t have much of anyone around me at any given time. I wore my mask the entire time, but I also got the chills on this steamboat that I was being watched.  The captains quarters area especially. 

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The view of Dubuque from the outside of the boat was spectacular, as was the other side of the Mississippi. There is signage everywhere so you know what you’re looking at, and it took about 45 minutes to tour the entire boat. I seriously don’t know how people did it back then or even now- I would crawl the walls being on a boat for months on end. Maybe that’s why I have never been on a Cruise yet? Check it out if you’re in the area- admittance is through the Museum. Enjoy!

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