JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. — Tourists are nothing new to the Jefferson County town of Kimmswick, but those tourists normally arrive by Interstate 55 or Missouri Highway 67.
About 225 tourists are arriving by boat on Sunday, where the flag is raised and the Port of Kimmswick is open for business.
Their first customer will be the American Duchess riverboat with about 145 passengers and 80 crew members.
Mayor Phil Stang said the passengers will be able to leave the luxury steamboat and shop and tour Kimmswick.
The new port was a $1.3 million investment.
Neal Breitweiser is executive director of the Jefferson County Port Authority.
“It was constructed with the thought of the largest riverboat vessel in existence today, the American Queen, should be able to dock here,” said Breitweiser. “And we can go down from there as different size vessels come in, but we wanted to be able to accommodate the largest.”
The arrival of a steamboat on a Sunday in July is a date for merchants that’s not already on the tourism calendar.
Cindy Huckstep is the owner of The Dough Depot Restaurant.
“Well, we’re all very excited,” said Huckstep. “We’ve anticipated this for a long time. I feel like it’s going to bring in a lot of additional revenue.”
This is not just a one-time deal. Stang and others are hoping to make the town a regular stop once again, along the Mississippi River cruise circuit.
“This will be the first of many, and the first of many from the American Queen Steamboat Company," Stang said. "We look forward to our historic Delta Queen coming to Kimmswick in about 2023. And there are several other riverboat companies that have expressed interest in coming to Kimmswick.”
Everybody associated with the project is hoping Kimmswick can avoid severe weather this weekend. That’s because floodwaters have recently covered the road between the new port and the town.