The Belle of Louisville's home port is Louisville,
Kentucky. She was built in 1914 in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. Her length is 190 feet and she has three decks to her. Two of the decks are enclosed and the other one is open. The Belle of Louisville is a riveted-steel, steam powered, sternwheel-propelled, day packet and excursion boat. The superstructure of the boat is built of wood, and the hull is supported by a hogging truss system in the traditional manner of Western River Steamboats.
She was built as the "Idlewild" in 1914 by James Rees and Sons, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Belle started out as a ferry, then a day packet along with being an occasional excursion boat. She now only does excursions.
The boiler room occupies the middle half of
the deck behind partitions to port and
starboard of the boilers. Each cylindrical boiler is fired from the front with No. 4 fuel oil atomized by an air blower when starting cold, or by a steam jet when hot. The current boilers are at least the fourth set fitted to the Belle. She was first fitted with three return flue boilers, 44 inches in diameter and 24 feet long. Three types of instruments indicate
the level of water in the boilers. The
oldest form of instrument is a vertical row of
three small spigots, called test cocks, set into
the back of each boiler. The water level is
found by opening each one briefly to see
whether steam or water comes out. The next
oldest type, called a Van Duzen gauge for the
inventor, is a clock face gauge activated by a
float inside the center boiler. The third, and
most modern type of water level indicator,
called a sight glass, is a pipe open at the top
and bottom to the interior of the boiler. Thesight glass is a heavy glass window set into
the pipe through which the water level can
be viewed. The redundancy of water level
indicators assures that the water will not be allowed to drop low enough to damage
The deck above the boilers is traditionally
known as the boiler deck. This deck was mostly open when the Idlewild was built, with an enclosed cabin space running down the
There are stairways to port and starboard aft
and a single large stairway amidships between
the stacks. Men's and Women's restrooms
run along the after bulkhead. Subsequent
alterations removed the cabin from the central
boiler deck and replaced the entire outer railing
by windows and solid metal. A large ballroom
was formed from the enclosed space. The
central portion of the overhead is raised to
provide room for a row of skylights. A band
stand is aft against the lavatories. The purser's office and a gift stand are to
starboard, and a concession stand is to port, opposite the main stairway. In 1968, an additional roof was built over the entire skylight deck. The pilot-house is a small, glass-enclosed, house with a domed roof mounted amidships atop the Texas.
The roof is ornamented by acorn finials on the
four corners, and an elaborate wrought iron
ornament at the peak. The three pipe steam
whistle is mounted above the pilothouse, on
an iron steam pipe. On June of 1952, the
Belle raced against the Delta Queen during the
celebrations surrounding the Kentucky Derby.
She lost to the tune of "Goodbye Little Girl
Goodbye" on the calliope of Delta Queen and
a racing tradition was begun. In 1965 the Belle
was given her new boilers to increase her speed, but they failed her and were soon replaced with traditional boilers. In the years since the races began, the golden elkhorns
have been about evenly awarded to each of
the two boats with tremendous hoopla surrounding the event no matter which boat wins.
The Belle of Louisville will grace Tall Stacks
2003 with her fifth consecutive appearance.
She appeared in the Tall Stacks of 1988, 1992,
1995 and 1999.
This set is not linkware. It is not in the public
domain. The image used to create this set
was provided by Allen Dale and used with
his permission. The background code used
for this set was provided by Liz from
Beyond the Horizon. All backgrounds and
images were created by me Fiddlinsue. All
the information furnished on this page was
compiled by me after reading several stories
from different books.