A big visitor in the Quad Cities this week drew in big crowds. The largest tow boat in the country docked at Heritage Park for the 150th anniversary of the Army Corps of Engineers in Rock Island.
“We only get this boat here once every three years or so,” said Phillip Fleming, Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
At 241 feet long and 58 feet wide, the Motor Vessel Mississippi is the largest diesel towboat in the United States.
“This is an opportunity, not only for us to demonstrate the vessel to our own employees, but also to bring this vessel to the Quad Cities so the public can have an opportunity to see some the historic events of the district itself,” said Lt. Col. Fleming.
As folks line up to learn the history of the Rock Island District inside the Motor Vessel Mississippi, the towboat itself is quite fascinating. It’s only the fifth vessel to take the name Mississippi. It weighs more than 2,800 tons, and uses more than 6,000 gallons of fuel each day.
“This year it happens to be in our area just as our district is celebrating its 150th anniversary serving the nation,” said Allen Marshall, Public Affairs Officer for the Army Corps of Engineers.
90% of the year, the Mississippi serves as a working towboat, pulling as many as 30 barges at a time. The other 10% of the year, it transports the Mississippi River Commission.
“A seven-person panel, presidentially-appointed to go out and inspect Corps of Engineer projects on the Mississippi River,” said Marshall.
This week it served as a sort of museuem filled with history of the Rock Island District and the many roles of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“We’re the largest provider of recreation in the United States, but then it’s also flood control, recreation, environmental stewardship. We’re involved with all of those things,” said Hugh Howe, U.S Army Corps of Engineers Park Ranger.
The tow boat has 24 staterooms and can carry as many as 40 passengers and 38 crew members at a time.