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Mississippi River paddleboat could be giving tours again next year

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LA CROSSE - One of the last cruise-boats on the Mississippi River could be paddling tourists again in western Wisconsin as early as next year.

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A group called “Save the Julia Belle Swain” says it has raised enough to buy the boat, and put it on display in La Crosse while it raises a million-dollars to refurbish it. John Desmond, who chairs the non-profit group, expects the boat to be upgraded this winter, and go back on the water next year.

The Julia Belle Swain was built in 1971, and it carried tourists in Iowa and Illinois before Bob Kallhagen purchased it in 1994. He ran tours between Prairie du Chien and Winona from 1995-2008, when the Great Recession did his business in. The new group says it could include the previous boundaries in its new tours. The Julia Belle Swain is designed like the stern-wheel paddle boats that ran on the Mississippi River over 130 years ago. 

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Sean Scallon
Sean Scallon has been a reporter and Sports Editor at the Pierce County Herald newspaper in Ellsworth since 1998. He holds a bachelors degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He's also worked at newspapers in Glenwood City, Wisconsin; Marion, Illinois and Shawano, Wisconsin. Sean also works as a sports reporter for other newspapers and websites in RiverTown Multimedia from River Falls to Hudson to New Richmond and Red Wing.
(715) 273-4334
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