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Louisville Council Votes To Surplus 'Spirit Of Jefferson’

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Courtesy Belle of Louisville
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The city of Louisville will sell the Spirit of Jefferson, longtime companion to the Belle of Louisville. Metro Council voted unanimously Tuesday to put the Spirit into surplus, slating it for sale.

“We have no buyer at this point, so it’ll either get brokered or we’ll advertise it for sale,” said Belle of Louisville CEO John Boyle. “It’s not like a used car. We’ve gotten some professional opinions on what the boat would broker for and what they thought we could get it for.”

Waterfront Development Corporation President David Karem said there have been serious talks with potential buyers in Frankfort, but he did not name them.

The 54-year-old diesel-powered Spirit of Jefferson was brought to Louisville in the 90s, ferrying people for tours and events along the Ohio River for decades. But mounting costs for the boat’s cosmetics, engine and generators were estimated at $500,000, prompting officials to retire it earlier this year.

With the boat voted into surplus, Boyle expects it will market to sell for between $150,000 and $200,000. Funds from the sale would go to the city because it is the owner of the boat. Boyle said the company will move on to other boats and projects after the sale.

“It was a good boat, and I know some of the guys are hating to see it leave,” Boyle said. “It served its purposed.”

The Spirit was retired earlier this year, making way for its replacement: the $800,000, 32-year-old Georgia Queen. The Queen, renamed the Mary M. Miller, joined the steam-powered Belle of Louisville, which was built in 1914.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.