Low water level prevents excursions on Missouri River

Monday, July 29, 2002

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Low water levels on the Missouri River have prompted a New Orleans company to cancel four excursions up the river, costing cities along the river tourism dollars.

RiverBarge Excursion Lines, a New Orleans company, announced Friday it would cancel the trips up the river because of current water levels.

One of the canceled trips was expected to stop overnight in St. Joseph Aug. 9, with about 180 people aboard the company's 730-foot barge.

The barge needs 8 feet of water to maneuver up the river and some areas have only 6 feet, said Jeff Kindl, vice president of RiverBarge Excursion Lines.

"We're concerned about some spots where we couldn't turn a corner, and we are concerned about some depth issues," Kindl said.

The cancellation of this year's trip to St. Joseph is expected to cost the company almost $1 million in revenue, he said.

'Siginificant cut'

Several St. Joseph organizations and businesses will also feel the loss. The tourists were scheduled to visit five St. Joseph museums.

"Admissions alone would have been $700 and then there would have been sales, too," said Gary Chilcote, Patee House Museum curator. "The impact on our museum would have been about $1,000.

"You multiply $1,000 by all the cities up and down the river, and I would say it's a real big impact," Chilcote said. "It's a pretty significant cut in business."

St. Joseph's overall tourism revenue likely will not be hurt, said Marci Bennett, St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau executive director. The guests would have stayed in rooms on the river barge, rather than in the community's hotels.

"It's too bad because this was a way for people all over the country, who were interested in seeing the heartland, to see St. Joseph," Bennett said.

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