Fun Facts About the Spirit of Jefferson

A diesel-powered riverboat on the Ohio River

Spirit Jefferson on the Ohio River.
Image © Mali Anderson

Where is the Spirit of Jefferson docked?

Both the Belle of Louisville and the Spirit of Jefferson are docked on the Ohio River, on Louisville’s Fourth Street Wharf. Located downtown, just north of the Galt House Hotel and a short walk from the 2nd street bridge and the KFC Yum! Center, both boats, administrative offices, ticket sales and a gift shop can be found at this central location.

401 W River Rd.
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 574-2992

Who can ride the Spirit of Jefferson?

Anyone! The cruises are an entertaining way to take in Louisville and Indiana from a new perspective. You'll see the Louisville Water Tower, ships launching from Jeffboat, cruise under the Big Four Railroad Bridge and take in the Louisville skyline. A delightful reminder of the steamboat era, passengers can choose between a dinner cruise or simply purchase a ticket to take in the sights.

Lunch and dinner cruises are catered. Along with food and main floor dining room seating, the tickets include music and a DJ adding interesting historic facts. If you opt for a sightseeing ticket, you'll have access to an upstairs room to buy drinks and/or snacks. Both ticket options include access to the outdoor decks, which also offer seating.

Who built the Spirit of Jefferson?

Launched in May, 1963, the Spirit of Jefferson was one of the last vessels built by the Dubuque (Iowa) Boat and Boiler Works for Streckfus Steamers, Inc. The company was based in St. Louis, Missouri.

What rivers has the Spirit of Jefferson traveled?

Originally named the Mark Twain, the riverboat's first cruises operated out of New Orleans, Louisiana. She was a bayou excursion boat and ran along that path from 1963 to 1966. Then, the Mark Twain was brought to St. Louis. In 1970 her name was changed to the Huck Finn. As a sightseeing boat, she ran daily on the mighty Mississippi River. On the Huck Finn, guests could see the sights or take dinner boat outings on the Mississippi River. Her course was just beneath the St. Louis Arch. Until December of 1995, the Huck Finn stayed in St.


When was she renamed the Spirit of Jefferson?

In 1995, the boat was purchased by Jefferson County Judge/Executive, David L. Armstrong. Armstrong bought the riverboat for $395,000 with the intention of using her as a dinner cruise and sightseeing boat along the Ohio River.

Deciding the community should have a say in naming the riverboat, Judge Armstrong’s office conducted launched a community-wide contest. What to rename the boat? Interest swelled, over 3,000 entries were submitted. The winner, as we now know, was the Spirit of Jefferson. The Huck Finn officially became the Spirit of Jefferson in April, 1996.

Who owns the Spirit of Jefferson?

The Spirit of Jefferson is owned by the Louisville Metro government. The riverboat and is managed by the Waterfront Development Corporation, the same organization in charge of the river steamer the Belle of Louisville. Both boats are a great attraction in Louisville. Residents book cruises for anniversaries and celebrations while visitors join in on the fun at all times of year.

What are some fun statistics about the Spirit of Jefferson?

What is the size of the boat? - 118' x 30'
What is the weight of the boat? - 87 gross tons
Is there a top speed she can cruise? - 15 MPH
What type of fuel does she use? - Diesel
How many passengers can fit on the boat? - 250 passengers (maximum)

If you are interested in learning more, visit the website.

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