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The River Steamboat Belle Of Louisville

Though we know her today as the Belle of Louisville, she was originally named the Idlewild when she was built in 1914 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She was designed to be a ferry and day packet vessel (for freight work), and she was also outfitted for her later career as an excursion boat.  Completely paddlewheel-driven and with a steel hull that draws only 5’ of water, she was able to travel on virtually every navigable inland waterway from Montana to the East Coast and from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

By the late 1920s, the Idlewild was “tramping”  her way along the country’s major river systems – stopping at towns along the banks, running short trips for a few days, then moving on.  She often carried cargo picked up in one town and delivered to another.  However, by the early 1930s most of her cargo business had been replaced by the growing trucking industry; so she converted to primarily excursion work and led a vagabond’s life.

During the 1940’s when everyone’s help was needed to aid the war effort, though the Idlewild kept her excursion trade during the summer she towed oil barges and occasionally served as a U.S.O. club during the “off season.”  In 1948 she was renamed the Avalon, and she continued tramping for 13 more years, becoming the most widely traveled river steamboat of her size in US history.

Then, in a sadly decrepit state, in 1963 the Avalon was sold at auction in Cincinnati to Jefferson County KY. Her name was changed to the Belle of Louisville, and under the care and restoration skill of a few dedicated volunteers, the boat began a new life on the south shore of the Ohio River.  Today she is recognized as the oldest operating Mississippi River – style steamboat in the world.  She is a National Historic 
Landmark and listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, and she is proud to be a member of a very small  and elite group of only six steam-powered boats still operating on America’s inland rivers today.

(History reported by Kadie Engstrom, Education Coordinator, 2008)
( used with permission)

On April 5th, 2009 , LPI was honored to do an investigation of the Belle.
The weather was not the best of conditions. We had tornado watches, and thunderstorms. But what better way to do an investigation of the paranormal?!
Throughout the night there were many personal experiences. Many of the team witnessed "Shadows".  Some smelled perfume and felt something touch there arm.
Below is some of the evidence captured during this fantastic night.
Thanks to Deanna for being with us, and to the staff of the Belle for allowing us this opportunity.

Belle Of Louisville
We were fortunate to be allowed to reinvestigate this wonderful ship on April 19th.
During this investigation we were accompanied by Lisa, the jail keeper, from the Jailers Inn in Bardstown.
We set up our equipment and began our investigation.
The Lady did not let us down. Our investigators witnessed a shadow figure moving around the bathroom area. We captured some interesting photos and on tape captured someone saying "Hello".
While walking on the main dance floor deck, I was using a compass, the compass continued to point opposite True North. West was East, North was South, until I got around the staircase.
The arrow on the compass continued to point in the direction of the staircase. No matter where I stood. As I walked around the staircase the arrow on the compass continued to point in that direction. But only on this floor. When I went upstairs or Downstairs the arrow began to point True North again. until I got closer to the stair case.
We are planning on doing a follow up of this Beautiful Lady again.
click to view)
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