Louisville Magazine

OCT 2014

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/388156

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Page 51 of 172

LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 10.14 49 F rom Oct. 14 to 19 the Belle of Louisville will take center stage in a Centennial Festival of Riverboats in Louisville. Te event will include fve steamboats, with days of boat rides and races and evenings of freworks and music at Waterfront Park. Te event hits the Belle's 100th birthday right on the mark. Te Idlewild, as the Belle was originally named, slipped into the river for duty at the James Rees and Sons shipbuilding yard in Pittsburgh on Oct. 19, 1914. Te Idlewild wasn't built with luxurious staterooms or adorned with frilly "gingerbread" details. "She was built to haul," Doty says. "People, goats, pigs — you name it. She began in the packet business on the Mississippi River." After World War II, Doty says, the Idlewild was sold and renamed the Avalon, which operated out of Cincinnati and Louisville. "Just tramped the river," Doty says, using a word that means cruising for day excursions. Te boat's calliope would announce the steamboat's arrival. Kind of like the circus coming to town. Today, an excursion on the Belle begins in much the same way, with Martha Gibbs playing lively songs on the steam-powered calliope as passengers board. With just 32 brass keys, the thing isn't easy to play. In 1962, the Avalon went up for sale. Steamboating fans, including Louisville oilman C.W. Stoll, advised Jeferson County Judge/Executive Marlow Cook that the boat was sound and could be bought for cheap and become a tourist attraction. Cook bit, and bid, taking home the Avalon for $34,000. After some refurbishing, the boat took a new name: Belle of Louisville. "One citizen complained to Mayor Char- lie Farnsley that the cost was too high," says Belle CEO Linda Harris. "Mayor Farnsley wrote down on a piece of paper the cost of the boat, divided that by the number of resi- dents, and came up with a individual cost of seven cents per resident. Ten, he fshed into his pocket and gave the disgruntled taxpayer back his seven cents." Harris says the Belle's future is as import- ant as its past. "We have an ongoing 'legacy' program to train future ofcers of the Belle," Harris says. "Tose are licensed maritime positions, with extensive training required. Te Belle is in excellent condition, and if she lives an- other 100 years there will be young people coming along who can operate her." The Belle's steam-powered calliope.

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