ELKHART — The pride of the upper St. Joe River is back on the water. Repairs have been completed on Elkhart's River Queen.
With that, the River Queen was christened to return to action. This, after being dry docked to make a series of repairs to its leaking hull.
An Elkhart company did the heavy lifting, with a 275 ton crane.
"When we took it out of the water, it was a little damaged and it was a little bit scary, because the hull wasn't as strong," said Roger Taylor.
Three years ago, the River Queen was no longer sea worthy and was dry docked. Six months ago it was pulled out of the water.
A group of concerned citizens raised $75,000 to make needed repairs.
"The biggest problem was the hull had rusted through in many places, so basically had to replace three quarters of her hull," said Project Manager Tom Shoff.
Once completed they put a special sealant on the bottom and a fresh coat of paint on the inside and the decks.
One of those looking on was 62-year-old Tom Atkinson. When he was 10, he helped build the river queen.
"To see a little bit of nostalgia actually saved, its means a lot to me, very moving to me because all of the memories come back when I was a child," said Atkinson.
Over the last couple of months there has been a lot of behind the scenes activity and countless man hours, in efforts to bring the boat back to its former glory.
"We have a huge amount of tourism we need to get people back, being able to see the river," said Chief Fundraiser, Marly Roydson.
They still need to make engine repairs and put on new deck roofing.
If all goes according to plan, the River Queen will make its maiden voyage for the annual 4th of July Flotilla.