MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Low water levels on the Mississippi River are taking a toll on the tourism industry. The American Queen docked in Memphis on Wednesday due to low water levels. For the past five days, passengers have had to take charter buses to their destinations instead of traveling by boat.
Some places along the lower Mississippi River are only 9 feet deep. Narrowing channels pose a heightened safety risk. Coast Guard and the captain of the American Queen made the decision to stay in the Memphis port instead of traveling farther south. The Mississippi River between Vicksburg and Greenville has been shut down three times in the last two days.
Employees on the American Queen have not been impacted by the change in itinerary. Business is normal as the ship is still functioning properly. Passengers are making the best of the situation and have still been able to see all of the attractions they were promised. The American Queen will set sail this evening and will head north to Chattanooga.
Tim Rubacky, Vice President of the American Queen Steamboat Company, says, “Once you go north of Memphis, the challenges get less and less with every mile.”
The Mississippi River level is currently at minus 7.7 feet. River engineers expect the river to drop another 2 or 3 feet this weekend, the lowest it has been since 1988.