47 Tennessee Music Cruise
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Tennessee 2020 Home Passengers  


September 20 - 28, 2020
Aboard American Duchess Riverboat



2020 Tennessee Music Cruise Itinerary

   September 20: Day 0   Sunday Gaylord Opryland Resort, Nashville.
   September 21: Day 02    Monday Nashville to Clarksville, Tennessee
   September 22: Day 03    Tuesday Clarksville, Tennessee
   September 23: Day 04   Wednesday Dover, Tennessee
   September 24: Day 05   Thursday Paducah, Kentucky
   September 25: Day 06   Friday Cape Girardeau, Missouri
   September 26: Day 07    Saturday  New Madrid, Missouri
   September 27: Day 08     Sunday Cruising the Mississippi
   September 28: Day 09    Monday Memphis, Tennessee
A Note from Marla Archer regarding the Tennessee Music Cruise:

I would like to announce our first ever American Music Themed River Cruise.
We sail from Nashville to Memphis in September 2020.  This trip has it ALL!

Lee Greenwood, Country music icon and writer of "God Bless the USA," was be a special guest on this cruise.  His private concert is just one of many exciting guest performances planned for this captivating voyage. Get ready to experience a bluegrass show by Storefront Congregation, a folk performance by Dave Para and an exclusive show with Terry Mike Jeffrey showcasing rock, blues and country. These exclusive artists will bring down the house in The Show Lounge.

Here are the extra perks that are included:
  Special onboard entertainment includes Nashville Country Western & Memphis Blues
  A one-night stay at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville  
    (breakfast/taxes/porter/transfer included)
  Boutique American Ship - The Duchess has only 166 passengers
  All inclusive beverage package - spirits/wine/beer
  Five ports with shore excursions included
  Complimentary gratuities
  $50 per person onboard credit
  Two Nights Complimentary Specialty Dining
  Complimentary cappuccino, espresso, specialty coffees, tea, bottled water and sodas
  Complimentary room service
  Nightly entertainment in The Show Lounge with large dance floor.

We have limited group space in the following categories:
VS-VERANDA STATEROOM: 240 sq. ft. stateroom --$4898 per person double occupancy
SOLD OUT)  180 sq. ft., --$2598 per person double occupancy

We have space for 28 guests in our group due to the special onboard theme.  As of January 2020, we have only have 6 spots left.  A $500 per person deposit is required at time of booking and final payment is due early June, 2020.     Marla@ssqq.com  

A Note from Rick Archer

Back in 2013, Marla and I would watch the Sunday morning news channels.  Unbeknownst to each other, the Viking River Cruise commercials had caught our eye.  One day I couldn't take it anymore.  I looked over and saw Marla was equally hypnotized.

"Hey, Marla, have you ever thought about booking one of these European River Cruises?"

Marla smiled. "You know what?  I was thinking the same thing!"

That was the start of some of best adventures of our life.  In 2014, we took our first river cruise down the Rhone River of France.  In 2015 it was the Rhine River of Germany followed by a river cruise in the Bordeaux wine region of Southern France.  In 2016 we took our first Danube trip from Germany to Budapest, Hungary.  In 2018, we sailed the second half of the Danube from Romania to Budapest.  Next summer 2020 we are headed for the Volga River in Russia. 

We have our eye on future river cruises such as Egypt's Nile River, Portugal's Douro River, Germany's Elbe River, and of course the Seine River in France.  One of these days maybe we will be fortunate enough to visit Asian waterways as well. 

Here is my point... Marla and I have concluded River Cruises are our favorite form of vacation.  We say this for so many reasons. 

First and foremost is the scenery.  The great rivers of Europe are sublime.  Forests, vineyards, mountains, rolling hills, farmland, small villages, castles galore, valleys.  It is all so beautiful.

Second, we make deep friendships.  We take every excursion together as a group.  We eat meals together.  We drink wine at night and dance to rays of moonlight bouncing off the water.  We laugh, we sing, we enjoy each other's company.  Except of course when Tracy and Sherry use their feminine wiles to steal the Trivia Contest from my team.  But we won't go into that.  Let bygones be bygones till they aren't looking.  Then we push. 

Third, we learn things about a part of the world we don't necessarily know much about.  Besides learning the history and culture of each region, we discover that people of every country want the same thing... peace, friendship, security. 

So now the time has come to take a River Cruise here in America.  The way the trip works, we fly into Nashville.  We have an entire evening to explore Music City.  Maybe a trip to the Grand Old Opry??  And definitely take time to explore the giant atrium at the Gaylord Opry Resort.  I cannot wait to see this!  There are nine acres of indoor gardens complete with multiple waterfalls, restaurants, an indoor boat ride, dancing fountains, and winding trails through a tropical forest.  On a personal note, I have long wished our Houston leaders would consider trying something like this with the obsolete Astrodome. 

On the following day, we will be bused to Clarksville 40 miles northwest.  From there, the river experience begins.  I have an amusing trivia note to share.  Our previous river cruises have all been on one river.  For this cruise, we will visit four interconnecting rivers... Cumberland, Tennessee, Ohio, and Mississippi.  Should be interesting. 

From what I gather, the Cumberland River is heavily forested with hills on either side.  Google Earth shows dark green all the way, so I imagine this is a very lovely scenic area to travel in.  I have read the terrain furthest upstream is very rugged with narrow gorges and large boulders that have fallen from cliffs above.  Hopefully the boulders are done falling. 

As it turns out, there is an odd reason this area is so green... we pass right by a National Park known the Land Between the Lakes.  Oddly enough, there is a point at which the Cumberland River and Tennessee River run parallel to one another for about 50 miles as they head towards the Ohio River.  Guess how far apart they are?  Only 7 miles!  Our ship will pass this unusual area on the Cumberland River side. 

In the old days, the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers were not connected.  The Cumberland drained into the Ohio River to the north (in fact it still does).  These days the two rivers are also joined by a canal near the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

In the Forties, Kentucky built a dam across the Tennessee River to create 'Kentucky Lake'.  In the Sixties they dammed the Cumberland River to create 'Barkley Lake', then ran a mile-wide canal through to connect.  After JFK ordered the area between the rivers abandoned, it was converted into a nature reserve.

Once we pass through the canal, our riverboat will now be on the Tennessee River.  However, don't get too attached.  In just 20 miles, we hit yet another confluence.  In the town of Paducah, Kentucky, near the northwest tip of Tennessee, the Tennessee River and the Ohio River connect.  

Don't get too attached to the Ohio River either.  We stay on the Ohio for 50 miles until we get to a city known as Cairo, Egypt.  That is amazing... now we get to travel on one of the great rivers of the world, the mighty Nile River!  Uh oh, wrong trip.  Make that the mighty Mississippi River.  Sometimes I get confused.  So many rivers, so little time. 

Trust me, I am not only person who gets confused.  At the Mississippi River-Ohio River Confluence in Cairo, the steamboat takes a wrong turn and heads north.  This makes no sense because Memphis is to the south.  After careful research, I have determined the ship makes this detour so that we can visit Cape Girardeau, Missouri, a town steeped in Mark Twain tradition.

Considering our rocky current political climate, a few Mark Twainisms might do us all some good. 

  "If Voting made any difference, they wouldn't let us do it."

  "It is easier to Fool people than help them realize they have been Fooled."

  "The person who won't read has no advantage over the person who can't read."

  "Suppose you were an idiot.  And suppose you were a member of Congress.  But then I repeat myself."

  "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."

Mark Twain had a low opinion of politicians, but he had some nice things to say about Travel.

  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

  20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Dream. Discover. Take River Cruises! 

Take River Cruises?  Wow, can you believe he said that!   Or perhaps I embellish.  Here is what I do know... I like Mark Twain.  I would be honored to pay his museum a visit.  I might even gain some wisdom.  I hope it doesn't hurt too much. 

For you History buffs, there were some pretty serious Civil War battles fought along these various rivers.  I counted four different stops that have Civil War stories to tell.  To be honest, I don't know much about the battles fought in this neck of the woods.  That is another advantage of river cruises... you learn the history of the area as you pass through. 

After Cape Girardeau, the plan is change direction and start heading south towards New Madrid.  Oh, so now we're going to Spain?  Such a confusing trip!

And what is New Madrid famous for?  According to the promo, "New Madrid is famous for being the site of a series of over 1,000 earthquakes in 1811 and 1812, caused by what is called the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Today, explore this quaint river town that will surely steal the hearts of all guests."

You know, I've been known to 'embellish' a time or two.  Don't ever let the truth get in the way of a good travel story.  That's what I always say!  But here is what irritates me.  I absolutely hate it when someone else 'embellishes'.  I have a selfish streak that believes only I should be allowed to exaggerate.

So when I read an idiot hyperbole like "this quaint river town that will surely steal the hearts of all guests", I know for a fact that someone hired an English major to write this fatuous copy.  My first clue was the word "quaint".  In the old days, "quaint" stood for "cute, quirky, precious."  Nowadays, when I see "quaint", I know from experience this is code for "This place is so damn boring I can't think of a single nice thing to say." 

Take my advice, if it says 'Quaint', bring a book.  As for me, I would never be caught ever using a dumb word like "Quaint".  I have my pride to consider.  But maybe I am being unfair.  When we visit New Madrid, I will remember what I wrote and be sure to see if this town is "Quaint" worthy.  Do they really believe this town is going to steal my heart?  More likely my wallet. 

After New Madrid, we have a day at sea.  Sounds like Rocker time for me.  As we age, the term 'rock and roll' assumes an entirely new meaning.  "Young man, I am so comfortable here in this rocker.  Would you mind bringing me a glass of wine?"  

Incidentally, did you notice I should have said 'a day on the river'?  You knew what I meant, so cut Grandpa some slack. 

Now it's time for Memphis.  If Nashville is the capital of country music, then Memphis is home of the blues and the birthplace of rock'n roll.  With iconic Beale Street entertainment, Sun Studio, and Elvis, if you love music, you will love Nashville.  No doubt Marla and I will stick around for a couple days to check out the place.  Perhaps a pilgrimage to Graceland. 

If there is one flaw in the River Cruise experience, sometimes things can get a bit tame after dinner.  More often than not, people retire to their room fairly early.  I think that is why Marla's decision to book this Music Cruise intrigues me so much.  After each dinner, there is a show in the Show Lounge, an auditorium with theater seating.  The dance floor is up front.  

When the show ends, the temporary chairs in front are removed to allow dancing for as long as people wish.  Marla says there are small combos that play live music.  However, just in case, I will bring my portable amplifier along.  Rockabilly, anyone?

Considering Nashville and Memphis are two of America's most important music capitols, this promises to be a very entertaining trip.  We start with Country-Western music in Nashville.  Along the way, we will encounter New Orleans-style Jazz, Dixieland, Bluegrass, Delta Blues, and of course some Elvis-style Rock and Roll.  If we don't have an Elvis impersonator on board, I will be very surprised.  If you love live music, I imagine this trip will be right up your alley.  This sounds like Jazz Fest on the water. 

Another interesting feature is the all-inclusive drink package.  In Europe, they serve complimentary wine at lunch and dinner which is nice.  However, on the American Duchess, they go way past that.  They serve whatever drink you wish all day long at no charge.  Hey, I'm waking up the captain if necessary! 

Of course there always the danger that uninhibited libation could lead to excessive revelry.  That would be so quaint!  Hopefully we won't have to fish anyone out of the Mississippi other than Tracy and Sherry after I push them.  Seriously, I imagine our parties will be festive to say the least. 

No need for alcohol packages, no need for expensive long distance flights to Europe, no need for passports and customs.  Nine days on a luxury paddlewheel boat straight out of the days of Riverboat Gamblers and enticing Showgirls. 

Personally, I expect this part of the country will be just as beautiful as any river in Europe.  The catch-line phrase in the promo is that a river cruise is the chance to rediscover America.  You know what?  I completely agree.  Just 166 guests.  Excursions by day, performances by night.  A chance to watch the shoreline from the comfort of your cabin.  History, scenery, music, dancing, and rockers too.  The perfect vacation! 






Day 1: Hotel Stay - Nashville, Tennessee

So our trip begins with a mystery. 

Take a look at this overview using Google Earth.  What do you suppose is hiding under that Astrodome-style roof?

That is a nine acre Rain Forest-Riverwalk!!  And do you think Rick and Marla can't wait to check it out?  We do!  In fact, we are going in a day early just to wander around. 

As part of our river cruise package, we will be staying at the Gaylord Opryland Resort.  In case you wish to visit the Grand Ole Opry, it is a 15-minute walk away.  Just a few blocks.

Enjoy your complimentary stay at the iconic Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville.  The evening is yours to get self-acquainted with all that this legendary "Music City" has to offer.

The Hospitality Desk will be located in the hotel for your convenience between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. It is here that the American Duchess staff can assist with everything from general questions about your upcoming voyage to reserving Premium Shore Excursions.

An American Queen Steamboat Company representative, as well as a local representative, will be readily available to provide you with dining, entertainment, and sight-seeing suggestions so that you may maximize your time in Nashville.

Rick's Note:  I suppose I could write and write and write, but this time I will let the pictures speak for themselves.





Day 2: Nashville and Clarksville, Tennessee

Rick's Note:  Day Two has two purposes.  You have the entire morning to enjoy Nashville.  However, sometime in the early afternoon you will catch a shuttle at the hotel which will transfer you to a town called Clarksville 40 miles to the northwest. 

Here is how it works.  At some point in the morning you will visit the American Queen Steamboat Company Hospitality Desk for ideas about how to spend your day.  The official Voyage Check-In will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. During this time, representatives will arrange for your transfer to the vessel and answer any questions you might have. The process is simple and will have you back to exploring in no time. If you have any additional questions, the Hospitality Desk will be at your service until the complimentary vessel transfers begin.

We are not sure how long we are allowed to stay in Nashville, but the soonest you can get on the boat is supposed to be 3 pm.

Once you board the American Duchess in Clarksville, you will have the entire late afternoon and evening to do whatever you want.  Relax on the boat or wander around Clarksville. 



Day 3: Clarksville, Tennessee

Clarksville is the fifth fastest growing city in the United States while keeping their small town charm.  Founded in 1784 and incorporated as a town in 1785, Clarksville was named for Revolutionary War hero General George Rogers Clark. The town is lined with history ranging for centuries and can be seen through prime examples of Victorian and Roman styles of architecture that are prevalent throughout the city.

The boat will depart from Clarksville sometime around 5 pm. 

Here are the included shore excursions you can choose from. 


·         Smith-Trahern Mansion
Built in 1858 by wealthy tobacconist Christopher Smith, this majestic antebellum home overlooks the Cumberland River. Constructed during the troubled pre Civil War era, the architecture reflects Greek Revival and Italianate styles. The home boasts grand hallways, an exquisite curved staircase and a “widow’s walk” on the roof. This beautiful home overlooks the Cumberland River. It was designed by Adolphus Heiman in 1858 for a wealthy tobacconist by the name Christopher Smith. The home reflects the transition between Greek Revival and Italianate styles, which were very popular at that time. Although not as large as some, the home boasts grand hallways, an exquisite curved staircase and a “widow” walk" on the roof. The original main building consisted of four large rooms on each of the two floors, opening onto both the hallways and the balconies. The kitchen was attached to the back of the house, but there was no connecting door. Of the many outbuildings that must have been on the property at this time, only the slave's quarters remains.

·         Montgomery County Courthouse
Originally constructed in the 1800’s, the Courthouse and Courts Complex is a blend of state of the art technology and historic charm. Restored after the 1999 tornado, this architectural beauty is the symbol of Clarksville’s historic downtown. Adorning the corridors of both buildings are 150 photographs illustrating the history and heritage of Montgomery County.

·         Customs House Museum and Cultural Center
Built in 1898 as a US Post Office and Customs House for the flourishing tobacco trade, this architecturally fascinating structure is among the most photographed buildings in the region. The state’s second largest general museum, the center features rotating shows, galleries and a sculpture garden. This center, located in the center of downtown Clarksville, is the State’s second largest general museum. The 1898 portion of the Museum was originally designed for use as a Federal Post Office and Custom House to handle the large volume of foreign mail created by the city’s international tobacco business. It measures 62 feet, 2 inches by 62 feet, 2 inches overall and is built on a smooth stone foundation. The brick exterior has decorative terra cotta around all openings and on the corners. The hipped roof with flared eaves is made of slate over long leaf pine, with the roof framing being of steel construction. The floor is of Knoxville, Tennessee marble, and the plastered walls feature extensive natural white oak trim. The building contains three vaults. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. With over 35,000 square feet of exhibit space, hands-on activities and special events, this museum can keep everyone busy. Explore the expansive museum visiting galleries displaying fine art, science, and history. Enjoy the museum’s collection of model trains that ride around the tracks each day.

·         Fort Defiance Interpretive Center and Park
in April of 2011, the Fort Defiance Civil War Park opened its doors to the new interpretive center, kicking off the 150th anniversary of the war that defined a century and changed the country. Fort Defiance overlooks the Red and Cumberland Rivers and has a breathtaking view of the Downtown. Visitors are encouraged to walk the trails and enjoy the history that the location represents. Displays, cannons and the occasional re-enactors are just some of things you can enjoy on your visit to Fort Defiance. In November 1861, Confederate troops began to build a defensive fort that would control the river approach to Clarksville. They mounted three guns in the fort.


      On February 19, 1862, Federal gunboats came up the river from Fort Donelson and reported the fort displayed a white flag and was deserted. The Federals took over the fort and enlarged it so that it would control traffic on the Hopkinsville Pike. Clarksville was left with a small garrison of Union Troops. In April 1862, this small garrison was made up of the 71st Ohio Volunteers commanded by Col. Rodney Mason. During July and August 1862, there was an increase in guerrilla activity around Clarksville. On August 18, 1862, Clarksville was recaptured by Confederate Calvary. Union soldiers were sent from Fort Donelson to retake Clarksville in September 1862. Battles were fought at New Providence on September 6, 1862 and at Riggins Hill on September 7, 1862. The town and fort were reoccupied by Federal troops who remained for the rest of the war. Col. Bruce was placed in command at Clarksville and Fort Defiance was renamed Fort Bruce.





Day 4: Dover, Tennessee

Stewart County is a small county enriched with history, picture-perfect scenery, and welcoming citizens. Guests are greeted with nature's beauty and wildlife surrounding the city. Located at the county's heart is Dover, its county seat and the home of Fort Donel­son National Park.

This peaceful, picturesque town is the location of one of the most historic battles of the Civil War - a battle that changed the direction of the war for the North.  Today, bald eagles call this park their home as and soars through the skies; a true symbol of freedom. Although small and rural, Dover has much to offer her visitors who can enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many local restaurants or take in the comforting hometown charm found throughout the city. Dover and Stewart County are the perfect gateway to a simple, cozy, quiet, country experience.


·         Fort Donelson
Explore the battlefield where Union and Confederate soldiers fought in February of 1862. Discover the history of the past displayed inside the Visitor Center or scattered across the battlefield, where monuments, plaques, and canyons portray the battle that ultimately ended with the Union forces capturing Fort Donelson. The construction of the Fort Donelson started in the year 1861 by Daniel S. Donelson and was named after him. During the Civil War of the 1860s, the Union forces were heading south to fight the Confederacy. Fort Donelson was key because of its location on the Cumberland River. When Fort Donelson was captured by the Union in February 1862, it was their first major victory for the Civil War. With the fort under Union control, they now had the door open to the Confederacy, ensuring that Kentucky would stay in the Union and opening up Tennessee for a Northern advance along the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. At Fort Donelson, visitors can learn about the battle, view the earthworks and cannons, and take a walk through the area on one of two trails. There also are areas for picnics, parking, and strolls along the Cumberland River, as well as a Visitor Center, where guests can learn the history of the war leading up to this battle and the events that occurred after it was finished.

·         Fort Donelson National Cemetery
The Fort Donelson National Cemetery in Dover, Tennessee was established in 1867 as a burial ground for Union soldiers killed in a significant early Civil War battle. Today, the cemetery contains the graves of veterans representing the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, and the wars in Korea and Vietnam. Fort Donelson National Cemetery is one of 14 national cemeteries managed by the National Park Service and is a part of the Fort Donelson National Battlefield. In July 1862, Congress passed legislation giving the President of the United States the authority to purchase land for the establishment of cemeteries “for soldiers who shall die in the service of their country.” The legislation effectively began the National Cemetery System. In 1863, the Union Army abandoned the Confederate works and constructed a new fortification on the ground that became the cemetery site. A freedmen's community developed around the new Union fort. Four years later, this same site was selected for the establishment of the Fort Donelson National Cemetery and 670 Union soldiers were reinterred here. These soldiers (including 512 unknowns) had been buried on the battlefield, in local cemeteries, in hospital cemeteries, and in nearby towns. These totals include five known and nine unknown soldiers from the United States Colored Troops. In 1867, Fort Donelson Cemetery was established as the final resting for Union soldiers and sailors initially buried in the Fort Donelson area. Today the national cemetery contains both Civil War veterans and veterans who have served the United States since that time.

·         The Surrender House/Dover Hotel
This 1850s building was originally the Dover Hotel and was a popular stop for travelers of the time. During the Battle at Fort Donelson, General Buckner and his staff used the hotel as their headquarters during the battle. It also served as a Union hospital after the surrender. After Buckner accepted Grant's surrender terms, the two generals met here to work out the details. Today, the building is restored and showcases historical artifacts and galleries. Built between 1851 and 1853, the Dover Hotel accommodated riverboat travelers before and after the Civil War. The Dover Hotel was the site of the "unconditional surrender" of General Buckner to General Grant, on February 16, 1862. Grant's terms of "unconditional and immediate surrender" were described by Buckner as "ungenerous and unchivalrous.” This was the Union Army's first major victory of the Civil War, setting the stage for invasion of the south and eventual capture of the Mississippi River Valley. The structure was originally built in 1851, and still stands in the heart of Dover. The structure had served as General Buckner's headquarters during the battle. The Fort Donelson House Historical Association and the National Park Service restored the house in the 1970s, and today the exterior looks much as it did at the time of the surrender.

·         Stewart County Visitor Center
Explore the Stewart County Visitor Center to learn about the history and future of the city of Dover. Walk through the Gallery located inside to get a visual representation of the city’s culture and history or talk to a resident at the Visitor Information Desk to hear their own piece of Dover history! Stewart County proudly opened its Visitor Center in October 2010. It has been a beautiful addition to the county and serves the community on multiple facets. The Center includes a Visitor Information Desk, where guests can discover the history of the county, hear about how the city is changing and improving through future plans, and even get tips on the best local eateries and stores. Take a tour through the Gallery, where the history and culture of Stewart County is highlighted through interesting articles, incredible art pieces, and rare artifacts, and then relax in the comfort of the fireplace.

·         Stewart County Historical Society Museum
This historical building showcases the history, culture, and customs of the city of Dover. Guests can explore many displays of local art, artifacts, and photographs as local experts recount the stories of this historical county. The museum houses an abundant collection of rich information on the county’s history, culture, and customs. While visiting the Historical Society Museum, guests have the opportunity to explore the county’s one-room schoolhouse and the history found inside, the beautiful Stewart County quilt showcased for all to see, and many more displays that demonstrate the local history. The building is also used to host many local events from charity dinners and dancing nights to educational seminars and talent shows, the Stewart County Historical Society Museum works hard to bring the community together.





Sometime on Day Four, possibly in the evening after our visit to Dover, Tennessee, we have beautiful treat in store when we pass by The Land Between the Lakes.

Starting at Dover, Tennessee, there is a 50 mile stretch where the Tennessee River and the Cumberland River run side by side in their path north to the Ohio River.  The two rivers are only seven miles apart. 

About 12 miles north of Dover is the Kentucky-Tennessee State Line.  Consequently most of the 'Land Between the Lakes' lies in Kentucky. 


There used to be sparse population in this neck of the woods.  Heavily forested, this rugged area has long been isolated from any large cities.  More than likely in olden times this was serious 'Moonshine Country', a sort of no man's land where the law had the sense to leave the Hatfields and McCoys alone.

However, at this point, there is very little population in the area.  The former residents were kicked out in order to create two giant reservoirs.  The first dam was built on the Tennessee River in 1944.  This dam created Lake Kentucky, but did not affect the Cumberland River.  The second dam was built on the Cumberland River in the Sixties.  This created Lake Barkley.  A small one mile wide canal was cut at a town known as Grand Rivers to allow the two adjacent lakes to be accessed by water. 

As one might gather, many farmers lost their lands under the giant lakes and were forced to relocate.  The area residents deeply resented the condemnation of their lands, but there was not much they could do about it.  Today the abandoned area is a national park under the control of the US Forest Service. 

My guess is our chance to see the undisturbed coastline of the 'Land Between the Lakes' will be a visual delight. 

In addition, we will get the chance to see a lock in action when we reach the northern part of Lake Kentucky on our way to Paducah.  If you have never seen a lock in operation before, it is very interesting to watch how it works. 




Day 5: Paducah, Kentucky


Paducah embraces their harmonious history between the European settlers and the Padoucca Indians native to the area. The city is located at the confluence of the Ohio and the Tennessee Rivers.  Because of this, Paducah is called the 'Four-Rivers Area' due to the proximity of the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Mississippi Rivers.

This prime location has played a major role in Paducah’s history, as transportation was easily accessible – the economy was strong and travelers were frequent!


·         National Quilt Museum
Celebrating 25 years in 2016, The National Quilt Museum is the largest of its kind in the world. It is the portal to the contemporary quilt experience - exhibits and workshops by renowned quilters who are implementing creative approaches to fiber art. The 27,000-square-foot contemporary structure features three galleries highlighting a collection of contemporary quilts and changing thematic exhibitions that celebrate the talent and diversity of the global quilting community. Workshops taught by world-class fiber art instructors are offered year-round. The Museum Shop & Book Store offers Kentucky Crafted items and quilt-related instructional and collector books.

·         Lloyd Tilghman House
This historic Greek Revival house was built in 1852 for Lloyd Tilghman, a new member of Paducah’s community at the time. After the house was completed, Tilghman did not purchase the property. Instead, the builder, Robert Woolfolk became the sole owner of the house and grounds. Tilghman, his wife, their seven children, and five slaves resided in the home until 1861. It was then that Woolfolk and his family moved into the home. Their family was pro-South and proudly flew a Confederate flag causing much uproar in the community and with the Federal Troops who located their headquarters just across the street from the home. Eventually Woolfolk and his family were banished from Paducah and the United States, forced to live in Canada on August 1, 1864.

·         Paducah Railroad Museum
The original Freight House (across the parking lot from the Museum) was built in 1925 by the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway. In 1996, the Freight House was sold and the Museum moved to a building one-half block away. Here, learn the history of the railroad and those who used it, explore the authentic train models, and enjoy the memorabilia showcased for guests.

·         River Discovery Center
In 1988 Mayor Gerry Montgomery and her committee pursued the development of a museum to showcase the Four Rivers Region’s maritime heritage. The River Heritage Center was planned in 1992 as the very beginning stages of the mayor’s dream. Years later the museum was relocated by Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and renamed the River Heritage Museum before finally receiving its current name, the River Discovery Center in 2008. Here explore artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that share the history of marine life and the history of the river. 

·         The Moonshine Company
Explore, taste, and purchase traditional and international award-winning Kentucky moonshine and moonshine flavors at The Moonshine Company in historic downtown Paducah. Located only blocks from the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, The Moonshine Company offers complimentary guided museum tours and moonshine samples that are distilled on-site in our 108-year-old building. Get a glimpse into the rich Kentucky moonshine history with their collection of historic moonshine stills and purchase that same moonshine secretly produced and bootlegged by our family over 80 years ago to bring home with you!


The Paducah Song -- Benny Goodman, Carmen Miranda

If you could see a certain town down south
I'll bet you fifteen cents you'd holler "Shut my mouth!"I'm not exaggeratin' when I say
There's not a sweeter town in the U.S.A.
I know an awful lot of people claim
It has a funny name. But brother just the same
They can't frown on my home town

Paducah, Paducah, If you wanna you can rhyme it with bazooka

But you can't pooh-pooh Paducah,
That's another name for Paradise.

Paducah, Paducah,
Just a pretty little city in Kentucky




Day 6: Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Nestled along the western banks of the mighty Mississippi River lies the city of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  It’s a community rich in history and heritage. For more than 250 years, people have been drawn to Cape Girardeau and the river on which it lies. Stroll along the riverfront, where the passion that led Mark Twain to write so eloquently about Cape Girardeau in Life on the Mississippi, the inspiration that Gen. Ulysses S. Grant used to lead with firm conviction as he took command of the Union Army in the historic downtown, and the warmth and hospitality that community founder Louis Lorimier extended to Lewis and Clark while on the journey of a lifetime as they set forth on their Corps of Discovery to explore the Louisiana Purchase will be prominent.

·         Mississippi River Tales Murals
The Mississippi River Tales Mural is the largest and most dramatic of Cape Girardeau’s murals and is located on a portion of the downtown floodwall. Covering nearly 18,000 square feet, this 1,100-foot-long mural features 24 historically-themed panels that vividly portray Cape Girardeau’s rich history and heritage; descriptive markers provide an explanation of each panel. The Missouri Wall of Fame Mural features 47 individuals who were born in Missouri or achieved fame while living in the state.

·         Red House Interpretive Center
The Center commemorates the life of community founder French-Canadian, Louis Lorimier, as well as the visit of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in November, 1803. The Interpretive Center houses an early 1800s exhibit that reflects the lives of the early settlers of the old Cape Girardeau district. In addition, a rendering of Lorimier’s Trading Post displays authentic items that would have been sold at the turn of the 19th century. The gardens on the north side of the house show the types of garden you might have seen in 1803 with flowers, vegetables, cooking herbs, and medicinal herbs.

·         Old St. Vincent’s Church
The Renaissance architecture, referred to as English Gothic Revival style, is not only beautiful but also extremely rare, as very few churches of this style exist in America today. Explore the many artifacts preserved in the church as you admire the arches and woodwork lining the interior of the chapel. Discover this fully restored beauty as it transports you back in time.

·         Glenn House
Completed in 1883, the Glenn house is a fully restored historic museum in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. It is a prime example of the Victorian period lifestyle including the architecture, furnishings, clothing, and décor. The Glenn House was built for David A. Glenn, who was an influential figure in the city’s history. He and his family occupied the home until 1915. Before they vacated the home, it was renovated in 1900 to the Queen Anne Style. The house is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Many of the furnishings and features of the home have been restored to their original beauty and have been kept authentic to the Victorian time interior.

·         Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts River Campus
Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts is composed of departments covering the history and science of art, music, theater, and dance. Visit the beautiful campus and explore the unique styles and subjects taught here. Walk around and discover impressive pieces of art, in many different styles, showcasing the talent and hard work of local students.

·         Crisp Museum
The Crisp Museum collects in three thematic areas: archaeology, history, and fine art. The Archaeology collection has several collections of prehistoric Native American artifacts, which illustrate aspects of the daily and ceremonial lives of the indigenous peoples who lived in southeastern Missouri from 13,500 B.C. to 1400 A.D., highlighting some very rare and exotic artifacts. The museum’s historical collections cover a wide range of artifacts with strengths in the areas of militaria, firearms and their accessories, clothing, and hand tools.

·         Cape River Heritage Museum
Since its founding in 1981, the Cape River Heritage Museum has focused on local history while preserving a historic building at the corner of Frederick and Independence streets. Located in an old fire house, the museum offers events, tours, and exhibits on steamboats, education, commerce, Mark Twain Memorial, the Missouri mule, the state flag, the Show-Me slogan, Native American culture, and fire and police memorabilia. Snap a picture of yourself in the model steamboat or in the cab of a tall-ladder fire truck from the 1950s!






Day 7: New Madrid, Missouri


New Madrid was founded in 1776 by Spanish Governor Esteban Rodríguez Miró who welcomed Anglo-Saxon settlers but required them to become citizens of Spain and live under the guidance of his appointed impresario, Revolutionary War veteran, Colonel William Morgan of New Jersey. Some 2,000 settled in the region. In 1800, Spain traded the territory to France in the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso, who promptly sold it to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase.

The city is remembered as being the nearby location for the Mississippi River military engagement, the Battle of Island Number Ten, during the Civil War. The city is famous for being the site of a series of over 1,000 earthquakes in 1811 and 1812, caused by what is called the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

Today, explore this quaint river town that will surely steal the hearts of all guests.  (Guard your heart everybody!)


·         New Madrid Observation Deck
Stroll off the American Queen and over to the New Madrid Observation Deck. Jutting out across the Mighty Mississippi, guests can get a picture-perfect view of the river.

·         New Madrid Historical Museum
Located on the Mississippi River in the building that was once the Kendall Saloon; the New Madrid Historical Museum reflects the history of New Madrid from as far back as the Native Americans to present-day. Learn about the active New Madrid fault and how it has made an impact on this river town and shop the gift shop for unique treasures to remind you of your trip to New Madrid. Located in the former Kendall Saloon off of Main Street, the New Madrid Historical Museum shares the history of this river town from the Mississippian period through the 20th century. Here, guests can explore the great earthquakes of 1811 and 1812, documented with seismographic recordings, Native American artifacts, Civil War artifacts, early family life in the city of New Madrid during the 19th and 20th centuries, and the gift shop!

·         Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site
The Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site was created to preserve a time of the past. Guests can explore the Bootheel Mansion and learn about the history of the era. Tour this 15-room estate turned museum built in 1860 by William and Amanda Hunter, local store owners. Guests can view the entire historic home and enjoy the beauty of a time gone by. With most of the original furniture still intact this location is a uniquely preserved relic from the late 1880s. Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site preserves a now-vanished part of Missouri: The stately Bootheel mansion. Filled with original pieces and furnished in the style it was in during its heydays of the 1860s-1880s, the ornate mansion provides a history lesson in every corner. Most of the original furnishing purchased by Amanda Hunter, the house's first owner (with her husband William) is still in the house.

·         Higgerson School
This one room school house provides guests with a glimpse into the life of a student attending this historic school. Guests can learn about this 1948 school house and how its practices proved to be essential cornerstones of America’s early 19th century education system. Restored to the one-room school that operated at Higgerson Landing in 1948, the Higgerson School is a window to the educational practices that shaped and served rural America from the early 19th century. Experience the typical school day of children attending all eight grades in one room with one teacher. Relive the days of playing "Wolf Over and River" and “Caterpillars," a trip to the outdoor facility and crossing the fence on the stile. Visit Higgerson Landing Gift Shop before heading to your next stop.

·         Hart-Stepp House Art Gallery
Stop here to tour the oldest house in New Madrid. Currently owned by the New Madrid Historical Museum, the house was built by Abraham Augustine and moved to its current location in an effort to escape the rising rivers of the Mississippi. Today, the Hart-Stepp House is home to an extensive photography and painting collection. The oldest house in New Madrid, owned by the New Madrid Historical Museum, was built by Abraham Augustine and moved to its present location in order to escape the encroaching waters of the Mississippi River is now home to the newest attraction to the community, the Hart-Stepp House Art Gallery. The house is used often as a place to offer workshops and classes. Plans for the future include a photo studio and the establishment of a photography club for area school students.

·         New Madrid County Courthouse
In 1812 New Madrid was a vast county extending south through much of Arkansas. The area was cut roughly in half during the following year, and even further reductions came by 1816. New Madrid County, located by the Mississippi, was one of Missouri’s earliest counties. The town of New Madrid was founded in 1783, and the county was organized in 1812. First courts met in New Madrid, but county records previous to 1816 are missing. After the devastating earthquake of 1811 and repeated flooding of the Mississippi, the court chose an inland site for the county seat. For the 20th century courthouse, New Madrid County purchased a new site north of the original town in March 1915. From architects who presented plans, the court selected those from H. G. Clymer of St. Louis. Clymer's plan was for a brick building 107 by 75 feet with stone trim. Additional funds for finishing the courthouse and jail were authorized early in 1917, but no bids were received. World War I was beginning, and the labor force was reduced. Finally, W. W. Taylor, a master builder from Cape Girardeau, superintended final interior work, which was completed in January 1919. Final costs exceeded $100,000. This courthouse continues in use as New Madrid's seat of justice.






Day 8: Rollin' Down the Mighty Mississippi

American Duchess Copy:

There is always plenty to do between dawn and dusk on the river and today is the perfect day to enjoy the activities that are available to you onboard.  Gaze at the beautiful landscapes and small river towns as you mingle with fellow guests and discuss the unique aspects of river life.


Rick Archer's Note:  May I suggest a visit to the bar? 




Day 9: Memphis, Tennessee

Arrival 8:00 AM

Rick Archer's Note:  Once the riverboat drops you off, you have the choice to be on your own if you wish.  If you prefer the ship offers a Post-Cruise Hotel Transfer and guided tour for $139.

Experience the city that "The King" called home on a guided journey through Memphis! Put on your blue suede shoes and board the luxury river coach as it departs toward Memphis' heart and soul - Beale Street! Here, we will walk the most famous street in Memphis as our local guide leads us through the vibrant city he calls home. The journey continues with Beale Street in our rearview and the home of "The King" himself ahead, Graceland!  An interactive audio tour will guide us through the mansion before we enjoy free time to explore the recently opened Entertainment Complex. Experience the life and legacy of Elvis before departing for the Post-Cruise Hotel.

There is a lot to see in Memphis, so some people may wish to see Memphis on their own.  Marla and I are in no hurry to head home.  We plan to stay an extra day or two and visit this legendary Music capital.  If you choose to do things on your own, here are some of the highlights.


There’s something for everyone at Graceland.  You’ve heard the music, now see the place Elvis called home.  Explore the beautiful mansion, made fit for The King, walk the gardens where he found peace.  Tour the aircraft that he traveled on from show to show.  Encounter Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment complex for an unforgettable experience featuring legendary costumes, artifacts and personal mementos from Elvis and his family.

Graceland is so much more than a Mansion.  It was the private retreat of The King of Rock 'n Roll. It was where his family grew up, spent their time together and enjoyed life.  Explore Elvis Presley’s home and immerse yourself in his life and legacy. In addition to the Mansion, Graceland offers several exhibits that feature honors, accolades, personal items, and historical exhibits that pay tribute to Elvis and his legacy.  A trip to Graceland is to experience the life of Elvis, celebrate his achievements, and witness the glory of all things The King. 

Other elvis-related POSSIBILITIES


Beale Street—Home of the Blues!

Beale Street’s heyday was in the roaring 20′s, when it took on a carnival atmosphere. The booming nightclubs, theaters, restaurants, stores, pawnshops and hot music thrived alongside gambling, drinking, prostitution, murder and voodoo. 
In the early evenings, boxback suits and Stetson hats mingled with overalls.

Young ladies sashayed down Beale Street and inside the bars, gamblers waited for an easy mark to stroll in. If the mark escaped from the dice or the cards, maybe he would fall victim to Little Ora – always ready to prove her reputation as the best pickpocket between New Orleans and St. Louis. Maybe he’d just stop over at PeeWee’s and visit with the musicians, play a little pool, or secure the voodoo protection of Mary the Wonder.

By mid-evening, the street would be packed. A one block walk could mean a detour around the medicine show set up in a little hole in the wall, as much as stopping and listening to the wandering bluesmen playing for pennies and nickels.

One club, The Monarch, was known as The Castle of Missing Men due to the fact that gunshot victims and dead gamblers could be easily disposed of at the undertaker sharing their back alley.

Machine Gun Kelly peddled bottled whiskey from a clothes basket back before moving into the ranks of big-time crime. Numerous gamblers set a box next to the card table and slid a share of the take into it for the church down the street.

There were big vaudeville shows at the Palace and the Daisy, hot snoot sandwiches at the corner café, Memphis jug bands playing down at the park, and one block over on Gayoso, the red-light district rivaled New Orleans’ Storyville.

Today Beale Street is one of the most iconic streets in America.  Three blocks of nightclubs, restaurants and shops in the heart of downtown Memphis. The Beale Street Entertainment District is a melting pot of delta blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll, R&B and gospel saluting the likes of Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Justin Timberlake and so many others.

Stax Museum

Located in Memphis’ Soulsville USA neighborhood in the former Stax Records—which had also been the old Capitol Theater and closed due to bankruptcy in 1975—the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is a recreation of what once was. After the original studio was torn down in 1989, there was a revitalization effort for the area and the institution was rebuilt to its former glory.

Today visitors can peruse over 2,000 photos, films, music clips, costumes, original instruments, artifacts, trivia games and exhibits that tell the story of Stax Records and Memphis music history.

You’ll learn about Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Ike & Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and other soul legends. The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is one of only a very few soul-focused museums in existence anywhere in the world. Some collection highlights include the dance floor from Soul Train, Isaac Hayes’ flashy gold and blue Cadillac El Dorado, a historical film on Stax Records you watch at the beginning of your visit, Studio A, Tina Turner’s gold sequined dress, a brown suede jacket owned by Otis Redding, the Hall of Records with its showcase of 900+ singles and nearly 300 full length albums, and a recreation of the Stax Records Control Room.  

Don’t leave without perusing their gift shop for soul music inspired t-shirts, DVDs, CDs and memorabilia. Best of all, each purchase helps benefit the museum as well as the next door Stax Music Academy, which provides music education and arts opportunities to at-risk youth. Allow about two to three hours to explore the museum.

Sun Studio

It has been said that "If music was a religion, then Memphis would be Jerusalem and Sun Studio its most holy shrine."

In 1954, an unknown Elvis Presley, grabbed a mic and sang his heart out making Sun the most famous recording studio in the world. Take a guided tour through the birthplace of rock 'n' roll where you will experience outtakes from recording sessions, touch Elvis' first microphone and hear the real story of the studio that launched the careers of not only Elvis Presley, but Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, B.B. King, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, and many others that signed with the Sun label.

Sam Phillips opened Sun Studio in 1950 with the goal of capturing the pure, raw energy of Beale Street. It produced the first rock 'n' roll single: Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats' version of "Rocket 88" in 1951 and continues as an active recording business for many notable artists including U2, Def Leppard, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, Paul Simon, Margo Price and many more. 

Tours are given at the bottom half of every hour. While you're waiting, enjoy an old fashioned soda in the café or browse their incredible gift shop for Sun recordings, books, concert posters and other Sun memorabilia. For your convenience, there is a free shuttle to and from Graceland, the Rock 'n' Soul Museum and Sun Studio.

Memphis Rock N' Soul Museum

The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is a music museum located at 191 Beale Street. The museum tells the critical story of the musical pioneers who overcame racial and socio-economic obstacles to create the music that changed the cultural complexion of the world.  
The museum offers a comprehensive Memphis music experience beginning with the rural field hollers and porch music of the sharecroppers in the 30s highlighting the urban influences of Beale Street in the 1940s, radio, Sun Records and Sam Phillips in the 1950s, the heyday of Stax, Hi Records and soul music in the 1960s and 1970s, the impact of the civil rights movement, and the music’s influence and inspiration that continues today.








Rick Archer's Note:  Marla and I have never been on a river cruise here in America, so in some ways we are learning at the same time as our guests what to expect. 

At first glance, it strikes me that a cruise on the American Duchess is an interesting blend of the European River Cruise experience with Ocean Cruise-style nightly entertainment. 

There seems to be plenty of room for us to dance if we wish to.  And the chance to hear different styles of music each night is very intriguing.  When one combines the entertainment with the opportunity to see America the Beautiful from the luxury of this lovely ship, this river cruise strikes me as well worth the gamble.

Our band of 28 will travel the same waterways our forefathers once used to traverse the wilderness.  Granted we aren't Hiawatha in a canoe or Huck Finn on his raft, but the scenery is still pretty much the same in many of the locations we will be visiting.  With a little imagination, maybe we can see ourselves as Davy Crockett dodging arrows on the Tennessee River. 

Yes, this is an expensive trip, but when compared to the price of our European trips, it almost seems like a bargain.  Gone are the long and quite costly trips across the Atlantic.  Gone are the $500 drink packages.  Gone is the need to change dollars into local currency.  Hey, guys, we are right at home!  Let's do something different and travel America for a change.  

Rick Archer
November 2019

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