Historic steamboat returning to be displayed at Riverside Park - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Historic steamboat returning to be displayed at Riverside Park


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- The Julia Belle Swain steamboat has been sitting idly on French Island for five years.

But John Desmond, chair of the non-profit Save The Julia Belle Swain Foundation, said the vessel will soon be on display at Riverside Park.

Desmond's organization has raised enough money to purchase the Julia Belle, he said, and expects to have the deal finalized in the next couple of weeks.

Desmond said the green light has already been given to move the boat to Riverside Park following the deal.

"It will bring excitement back to the river front," he said.

Although the boat won't stay there forever.

Desmond said the Foundation needs $1-million dollars total to refurbish the vessel.

That number includes the price of buying it.

He hopes that in October, the boat will be removed from the park and the necessary repairs will begin to get it back into working shape.

Desmond said he eventually sees the boat being used for river tours, day trips to towns like Winona and Prairie du Chien and maybe even dinner cruises in conjunction with the La Crosse Community Theater.

"The boat is a piece of our history," he said. "It helps identify La Crosse as a historic river town."

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