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11 November 2018
Introduction to Popular Culture
The Belle of Louisville
This locally famous steamboat is predominantly white with three vertical red trimmed rails
separating the boat into thirds, this same red is seen in the stern wheel. Other main features of
this boat are the black smoke stacks that sit tall upon the boats head almost like two stretched out
top hats. The name of the steamboat is proudly displayed on the boat in old gold lettering that
mimics the idea of old English font with black drop shadow behind it. A patriotic essence is
radiated through the four American flags waving on the four main corners of the boat.
Built in 1914 by the James Rees and Sons Company, in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia this steamboat’s
journey has been a rich, dynamic story. Originally named the ?Idlewild ?which was the passenger
ferry between Memphis, Tennessee and West Memphis, Arkansas. This hauled many goods like
cotton, lumber, and grain. In the year 1931, it arrived in Louisville running its route between the
Fontaine Ferry amusement park near Downtown Louisville and Rose Island which was a resort
approximately 14 miles upriver from the city of Louisville. It continued to run through the
second World War. The boat also served as a USO nightclub for troops stationed at military
bases scattered across the Mississippi River. In 1947 the Idlewild was sold to J. Herod Gorsage
who renamed the boat to ?Avalon ? in honor of the former longtime captain Master Ben Winters.
The boat had fallen into technical troubles in the year 1963, presumably to be the end of her
days, during this time Jefferson County Judge Marlow Cook bought the boat in efforts of
restoration. Cook had hoped this would rekindle the relationship between the city’s waterfront
and the citizens of Louisville that had fizzled out due to the progression of the automobile. The
renaming of the ?Avalon ? to the ?The ? ?Belle of Louisville ? was a part of this plan. This strategy came
with multiple other developments such as the creation of the Belvedere which is essentially an
enormous lawn that outlooks the Ohio River.
Creation of the viewing area along with the nationally known Waterfront Park, helped with the
positive interaction between the city’s people. Success was very much evident in regards to the
platform of rebuilding that bond between Louisville and its waterfront, it was listed on the
National Register of Historic Places, ?The Belle of Louisville ? was also designated as a National
Historic Landmark in 1989. ?The Steamer Belle of Louisville ? is the only fully operating steamboat
today which still is used for excursion trade as it was before. ?The Steamer Belle of Louisville ? is
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significant, to the people of Louisville, but is recognized by many on a national level. Regardless
of the age, gender, or sex ?The Belle ? can be recognized by many and resonate with plenty. ?The
Bell ?e is often a go to for school and camp field trips so it's rare that someone who lives in that
area does not have a memory attached to the boat. It may be something that the upper class/
upper middle class gravitate towards because of its many soirees that it hosts.
The selling point of this famous steamboat is the old classic charm it seems to have maintained
throughout time as well as its family value. When you have something exist over a hundred years
as ?The Belle of Louisville ? has, its almost impossible to shake that old time feeling that today's
society deems as classic. The magical power it is seemed to be given is the power of time
traveling as you glide across the Ohio River.
In conclusion, while going the through the multi-layered history of ?The Belle of Louisville ? I can
tell it means something to a lot of people. Even though it still serves a functional purpose to the
economy essentially by transporting goods, it still provides for the public. This once plain
steamboat has become a staple of Louisville by implementing itself into many memories and
milestones such as weddings, graduation parties, coming of age parties, and many more. To this
day, it is a great source of entertainment for the locals but also a beautiful new experience for the
tourist that come through.
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“Belle of Louisville.” ?Louisville Waterfront Park ?, louisvillewaterfront.com/explore-the-
Brandt, Jenn, and Callier Clare. ?An Introduction to Popular Culture in the US: People, Politics,
and Power ?. Bloomsbury Academic, an Imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Inc, 2018.
Nevitt, Ervin. “A Look Back at the Belle of Louisville's 100 Year History.” ?Louisville.com ?,
Louisville Magazine, 25 Feb. 2014, 8:00 AM, www.louisville.com/content/look-back-belle-
“See Louisville | Steamboat Tours.” ?Belle of Louisville ?,
“Two Iconic Louisville Attractions Named Best of the Best •.” ?Leisure Group Travel ?, 6 Oct.