American Queen - Paducah, Kentucky
Located at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers, Paducah, Kentucky, officially got its name in 1827[end] when William Clark (Lewis and Clark) built a new town on the land to which he held title. The city's location made it a crossroads for steamboat traffic until the Civil War. Today, Paducah is one of the interesting stops on our American Queen sailing from Memphis to St. Louis.

American Queen in Paducah, KY

We landed at Paducah at around 10:30am. The hot, humid weather continues to plague us as we step off the gangway and walk up the steep incline to Broadway Street. The inside (facing the town) levee wall in Paducah is richly decorated with painted murals depicting historical events in the city's past. Murals like this are common to many towns along the rivers.

Rickee enjoys the murals on the levee wall

As with all stops along the river, American Queen's Steamcoaches are on hand to shuttle guests to various points of interest around town. Convenient markers are placed around town to identify the drop-off/pick-up spots.

Sign shows Steamcoach stop

Our first stop in town was the River Discovery Center, which we decided to make on foot. This modern museum is filled with impressive displays showing the history of Paducah's relationship with the two rivers. A large theater offers a  video presentation and there is even a full-scale riverboat simulator where you can step behind the wheel of a tow boat or speed boat.

River Discovery Center

Rather than walk back to the boat for lunch, we decided to contribute to the local economy and enjoy lunch in town. Shandies on Broadway came highly recommended, so we stopped in for a bite to eat. It was a good choice.

Shandies Restaurant on Broadway

After lunch, we decided to walk a few blocks to one of the other recommended stops on the Steamcoach tour, the National Quilt Museum.

I should emphasize that walking is not required; that is why American Queen offers the Steamcoaches. However, Rickee and I like to walk whenever possible just to get the exercise.

Who knew there even was a quilt museum, much less a "national" quilt museum? Not only does the museum exist, it is quite impressive! The museum is host to more than 40,000 visitors annually. The modern building is filled with an amazing display of quilts of every shape, size and design. Each one is truly a work of art, some representing more than a year of labor. This is one of those places that, were it not for being on American Queen, I would never have visited on my own. However, I am glad I did because it was very interesting. And, isn't that what travel is all about?

National Quilt Museum

After about an hour of exploring the hundreds of quilts on display at the museum, we decided to board the Steamcoach and take a ride around town. The Steamcoach concept is unique to American Queen and it is huge value, in our opinion. The system could not be more user-friendly. Each day you select a "boarding pass" from the Purser's office for the next day's Steamcoach tour. Boarding passes determine the departure time for your coach. Coaches depart approximately every 15 minutes. Once you board your Steamcoach, you turn in your boarding pass to the driver. From then on, the system works like a "hop on/hop off" bus. When you get off the coach, you do so with the knowledge that every 10 to 15 minutes another coach will be coming by to drop off/pick up guests. It is a great system, it works flawlessly and everyone seems to love it.

Lewis and Clark Sculpture at National Quilt Museum

After riding around the complete Paducah circuit on the Steamcoach, we decided to head back to American Queen. Once we returned, we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on The Front Porch of America until time for American Queen to depart. You know the boat is departing when you hear the unmistakable sound of the calliope blaring out tunes from the back of the boat.

Tomorrow, we will be in Cape Girardeau, Missouri!