Skip to main content

The world's biggest steamboat will dock in Winona Saturday

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Steamboat power built Winona, so in a way the town will be getting back to its roots on Saturday when the ship billed as the biggest steamboat ever pulls up to the levee.

Rather than cargo, the American Queen carries tourists on a river cruise.

The company offers six different Upper Mississippi River cruises but the Winona Daily News says the American Queen has not docked at Winona since August of last year.

It will be at Levee Park from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, the Daily News says, giving locals a chance to gawk at the boat while its passengers get an eyeful of Winona.

Riverboat cruises on the rise

Earlier this month the company that operates the American Queen announced plans to add a third steamboat to its fleet, which will be its second on the Mississippi (the American Empress operates in the Pacific Northwest).

"We're turning people away, so we have to get more capacity," President and CEO Ted Sykes told the website

Skift says river cruises have been more common in Europe but the U.S. market is beginning to grow.

And we can expect to see more of them in Minnesota. Last year Viking River Cruises said it plans to expand its New Orleans-based fleet and start traveling as far north as St. Paul.

Winona's steamboat legacy

Winona was founded by a steamboat captain named Orrin Smith who hopped off his boat with a carpenter and started building a town in 1851, the Winona County Historical Society says.

As the Daily News recounts, a restored steamboat based in Winona sailed the Mississippi from 1938 until it was pulled ashore and turned into a museum in 1956. By then it was the only wooden-hulled steamboat on the river and its rotting wood finally led to the demise of the Julius Wilkie 10 years ago.

Winona's annual summer festival is Steamboat Days and it is home to the Minnesota Maritime Art Museum.

Next Up


Ringo Starr's late cancellation of MN show was because he has COVID-19

The Beatles drummer was due to perform in Minnesota Sunday.

Screen Shot 2022-10-03 at 4.32.58 PM

Fire destroys cafe, two other business properties in downtown Fairfax

A former pizza joint was also destroyed, while two other properties were damaged.

Hennepin County Medical Center, HCMC

Woman dies from injuries in crash that killed her husband, another man

The couple in their 80s died in the collision near Lake Lillian.

CPAP masks

2 Park Nicollet employees convicted of embezzling $500,000

The pair worked at a CPAP clinic in St. Louis Park.


No Jingle Ball this year? Twin Cities left off iHeartRadio holiday tour

The annual touring event usually visits the Xcel Energy Center.

Target store

Target gives first look at some of its Deal Days discounts

The Minneapolis retailer is holding its Deal Days event earlier than ever, in an attempt to drive sales after a turbulent year.

Screen Shot 2022-10-03 at 11.03.12 AM

Man dies after crashing truck into western Wisconsin lake

The victim was unable to make it to shore despite being able to get out of his truck.

ATV, all-terrain vehicle

Sheriff: Man who didn't return to campsite died in ATV crash

It happened at the Foothills State Forest and Spider Lake ATV Recreation Area

Richard Liu, aka Liu Qiangdong

Chinese billionaire settles lawsuit over alleged rape in Minneapolis

The tech billionaire was accused of sexually assaulting a University of Minnesota student in 2018.

US Navy Flickr - COVID hospital PPE nurse

Frontline worker payments: Over a million Minnesotans to get $487.45

Gov. Tim Walz says the payments will start going out on Wednesday.


Ed Sheeran to bring North America stadium tour to Minneapolis

It's the second show announced for the Vikings stadium in 2023.


"Baby Angel" will be laid to rest next month in Winona

Sheriff Dave Brand told Daily News a Christian burial will be held Saturday April 7. The baby girl was found with several items, including porcelain angels, in the Mississippi River south of Winona last September. Investigators are still looking for the person responsible for the infant's death.