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May

05

2014

Step Back in Time on the Tunica Queen

April showers are known to bring May flowers, but April is also known in the Delta as the month that the Tunica Queen becomes available on both Fridays and Saturdays.

Aboard the 250-seat ship, friends and family can take daytime or sunset excursions offering a breathtaking backdrop for any special getaway. That backdrop being the mighty Mississippi River we Deltans know all too well. Either imaging themselves floating leisurely down the river like Huckleberry Finn or envisioning themselves taming the wild beast of the muddy Mississip’, relaxation seekers and adventure lovers alike will enjoy their time aboard the Tunica Queen.

The Mississippi River winds through this country’s history as a valuable natural resource, existing as a means of transportation, as water for crops and irrigation, and as inspiration for literature, music and cultural art. Although it has changed somewhat since the time that Mark Twain traveled down its muddy waters, the river still represents what Twain witnessed. His muse existed as the regional culture, which reflected a place where people of numerous backgrounds collided and evoked feelings of independence, escape, freedom and adventure. Many of Twain’s stories drew humor from the innocent newcomers and longstanding rascals that populated the riverbanks. Along with other writers, painters and artists of all forms, he attempted to represent a frontier experience etching its way into the Mississippi’s history. Our muddy Mississip’ continues to be a muse and a setting for ideas and culture.

The source of our state’s name inspires people from all over the world to explore, write and sing. Lyrics and rhythm reflect the river’s influence in every genre of music – from country, blues and musicals, to rock and roll. For example, the song “When the Levee Breaks,” first composed by Memphis Minnie after the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, later became famous in the version performed by Led Zeppelin. Johnny Cash also penned the song “Big River” about drifting the length of the Mississippi River, while Charley Pride created two classics, “Roll on Mississippi” and “Mississippi Cotton Pickin’ Delta Town.” While refreshing yourself on classic literature or mellowing out to some Delta blues, a ride while aboard the Tunica Queen fulfills your every need.

The more adventurous of the visitors may instead wish to imagine the sound of the waves rapidly rushing against the boat. There is a reason that Ol’ Man River is also known as the Mighty Mississippi. The Mississippi River remains notorious as a bold and tenacious element, one moment the cool water ebbing gently with a slow rise and fall; yet, a curve in his course can send him into a fury of frothy waves and chaotic currents. It is well documented that his temperament is guided only by Mother Nature and has eluded man in every attempt to tame him. History lovers may recall that during the spring and summer of 1927, the Mississippi Valley experienced some of the worst flooding in its history. The bloated river overtook the levees, causing an area of weakened walls – Mounds Landing – to break, with more than double the water volume of Niagara Falls. In total, the Mississippi River exceeded its banks in 145 places and flooded 27,000 square miles. The Great Flood of 1927 exists as a pivotal event in the South and marked the first great natural disaster faced by the country. The challenge of facing and surviving flood after flood existed as but one of the experiences that created a bond among residents of the Delta. Deltans understand and accept that no matter how many levees become completed, the danger of living beside such a turbulent neighbor remains. And once completing a voyage on the Tunica Queen, visitors may boast on weathering the river that causes these floods (and experiencing the second-largest river in the United States).

So, whether in hopes of a romantic getaway or an exciting adventure, the Tunica Queen exists as a ride not to be missed. As the song “Ol’ Man River” soulfully put,

“Ol’ Man River

Dat Ol’ Man River,

He mus’ know sumpin’

But don’t say nuthin’

He jes’ keeps rollin’

He keeps on rollin’ on

Long ol’ river forever keeps rollin’ on….”

Make sure to have the Tunica Queen as your guide, as you roll along with the mighty Mississippi River.

Visit the Tunica Queen at TunicaTravel.com for more information about sightseeing and dinner tours.


Fawn Horton is a graduate student who studies Mississippi Delta history at Delta State University.

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