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NRHS 2017 Convention Nashville General Jackson Showboat Lunch Cruise 6/23/2017

by Chris Guenzler

We arrived at the General Jackson Showboat and I went to the ticket office who had 87 tickets for the show. We had lined everyone up while I was doing that and they waited for me to give each one a ticket. Each ticket had a table number where they would sit it. I made sure Elizabeth and I had a seat at the same table. The only small problem we had is when one gentleman got a ticket at one table and his wife, who was not with him at the time, received a ticket for another table. On the boat the waiting staff fixed that problem and everyone was happy. When I had a few extra tickets left, I sent Elizabeth to find the bus drivers who had done an excellent job all week and she presented them with two tickets. They were very appreciative. One of them had never seen the show and I thought it was high time that she did.

General Jackson Boat History

General Jackson is a riverboat-more specifically, a showboat-based on the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. General Jackson was named after another riverboat of the same name that was built in 1817; that boat was in turn named for Andrew Jackson. The modern boat was originally an attraction at the Opryland USA theme park. The park closed in 1997, but the boat remains in service, docking at Pennington Bend near the Opry Mills shopping center that replaced the park. In addition to Opry Mills, the dock is located near the Grand Ole Opry House and the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

The original captains were Captain E.A. Poe and Captain William Howell.


General Jackson was built by Jeffboat in Jeffersonville, Indiana and launched in 1985. Though built to resemble a vintage steam-powered riverboat, it is actually powered by diesel generators which power two 600 horsepower electric motors, which in turn propel a 24-foot-diameter, 36-ton sternwheel. The boat has a capacity of 1,200 passengers and 157 crew members. She is 274 feet long {300 feet with gangway extended}, has a 63-foot-6-inch beam (width), is 77 feet tall with her folding smokestacks fully extended (the folding stacks are necessary because of low bridge clearances), and has a draft of 7 feet.


General Jackson is designed to recreate the showboats that plied the waters of American rivers in the 19th century. Several different shows are presented during the primary March-December season, with two cruises usually taken each day. Evening cruises normally feature dining as well. Most cruises feature the country music for which the Opry is known, though variety musicals and gospel music are also featured.

The boat occasionally ventures from its home port of Nashville. In October 2006, General Jackson took part in the Tall Stacks riverboat heritage festival in Cincinnati, Ohio.

My trip

Since we were the last two people to board the boat, there was no hurry, so I could take a few pictures along the way there.

My first picture of the General Jackson Showboat.

As we neared the gang plank, a second picture giving you a better idea of the immense size of this vessel.

The view looking down the river but our trip today would be up the river. We went in and found our table, put the stuff down and visited the buffet where I got fried chicken, mashed potatoes, a dinner roll and then I asked for some water since I do not like iced tea.

Our group at table 34. After my meal I decided, after Alex Mayes had told me the balcony is a far better place to take pictures of the show, I went up there to watch.

Looking down on our group from the balcony. The show is called A Taste of Tennessee. It would feature music from all over the State of Tennessee. It should be an interesting show.

First the band played an opening number.

Jimmy Miller performed the song Tennessee River.

Perry Danos then performed another song.

Bob Fortner and Katie Kerkhover did a piece of music involving duelling violins.

Next the band did songs from Carl Perkins.

Next the songs of Elvis Presley were performed.

This was followed by a duet of two male singers.

Dolly Parton's music was performed next.

Another duet team sang a song.

Another couple sang a duet. At this point, I needed a bathroom break so I went in search of one. That took me to the outside of the boat where I found the paddle wheel.

The paddle wheel of the General Jackson Showboat. After those pictures, I found the bathroom and was quite proud of myself that I did. Following my performance, I returned to the show to watch the end of it.

Another song was shared with the audience.

The whole cast performed another song from the Smoky Mountains.

The final song had a patriotic flavor to it. This performance was extremely well done as I really enjoyed the violin-playing musicians and all the singers who made for an unforgettable afternoon. A big thank you to them for an excellent show that I will never forget. I then walked out of the theatre and went up one level where I found Elizabeth and we enjoyed the Cumberland River together.

Views of us going up the Cumberland River. It was about at this point that the boat would have to turn aruond to head back to the dock, which it did.

The ship made the 180 degree turn with ease and almost no effort, and now we would head down the Cumberland River back to the dock.

We were enjoying the views until our un-favorite Tropical Storm Cindy decided to send monsoonal rains that made everything, even under the covered decks, wet. Elizabeth and I ended up in an unused lounge and sat at a table, then talked and she discovered that I wanted a Tshirt of the Showboat experience and she offered to get me one. While she was off doing that, a gentleman was bringing in tables who told me they were having a bigger crowd tonight and they would be using this room but we were allowed to stay. All too soon, the boat was returning to the dock and we went out with umbrellas to fend Cindy's wrath to be ready to disembark.

The dock that we returned to, ending a most interesting and educational cruise aboard the General Jackson Showboat. A special thank you to the General Jackson Showboat for having our group here today. We returned to the Nashville Airport Hotel where we dropped the people off and returned to the Days Inn. We then were able to get nine stories uploaded from the previous few days using the British Spy's (Elizabeth's name at her office) hot spot. After this, Bob, Elizabeth and I drove back to the Nashville Airport Hotel for the social hour and banquet.

The NRHS Banquet 6/23/2017

We went to the social hour where I paid four dollars for a Coca-Cola. After that stupid move of mine, I remembered there was a vending machine on the second floor so I would not make that mistake again. At 7:00 PM, the doors were opened and we went into the banquet room. We were greeted by John Goodman, the convention chairman, but this year for some reason, there was no invocation at the beginning which I found very strange as we were in the Bible Belt of America. For my dinner, I had the chicken which I have to admit was not as good as the Showboat's. After the recognition and introduction of guests, the Rail Heritage Grant collection was announced and $3,168 was raised by all of us in attendance. Following that Al Weber, the NRHS President, spoke to us. Once he was finished, John Goodman then introduced Mr. Robert D. Tuke whose speech included a Powerpoint presentation on saving Nashville's Union Station from demolition, but not the trainshed, which was the largest in America. Once that was done, the banquet was over and we returned to the Days Inn where we continued working on stories.