Christening ceremony open to the public; tickets still available for inaugural cruise
Louisville, Kentucky – The Belle of Louisville’s new riverboat will be christened the Mary M. Miller on Thursday, July 20th at 6:00 p.m. The new vessel is being named in honor of the first woman in the United States to receive a steamboat master’s license. The christening ceremony is open to the public and will take place at the Belle of Louisville Landing, 401 West River Road. A limited number of tickets are still available for the Mary M. Miller’s inaugural cruise that will board at 6:30 p.m. and cruise from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
The 30-minute christening ceremony will include remarks by Mayor Greg Fischer; Waterfront Development Corporation President David Karem; Rev. John B. Fritschner and Rev. David Guilfoyle of the Seamen’s Church Institute; and Fran Thornton, the boat’s Godmother, who will perform the actual christening. Ms. Thornton is the wife of Matt Thornton, who chairs the WDC Board of Directors. The Billy Goat Strut Revue will play before the christening ceremony and during the inaugural cruise that will follow.
Captain Mary Millicent Miller, who paved the way for women to become masters and pilots in the steamboat industry, was born in Louisville in 1846.
The Steamboat Inspection Service (SIS) in New Orleans, unable to deal with this unprecedented situation, referred the matter to SIS Headquarters in Washington, DC, which brought national attention to the issue. In February 1884, The Secretary of the Treasury ruled that if Mary M. Miller was fit to perform the duties, she should be awarded her license regardless of gender. She was named a captain on February 16, 1884, and on the same day an editorial and cartoon ran in the national publication Harper’s Weekly that championed women’s rights and supported the commissioning of women as steamboat captains.
Mary and George went on to operate the Saline until 1891, when they retired to the house they had maintained in the Portland neighborhood of Louisville. Mary Millicent Miller died in 1894, and is buried in the Portland Cemetery, Bank Street at North 35th.
The Mary M. Miller will begin her regular cruise schedule on Friday, July 21. For more information about Belle of Louisville and Mary M. Miller cruises, visit theBelle of Louisville website.