Tahoe Queen scrapped due to fire damage; replacement to come
ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. — The decision was made this month to scrap the Tahoe Queen — which for 33 years as cruised Lake Tahoe’s waters — due to extensive damage from this summer’s fire.
On Aug. 16, the 144-foot paddle wheeler caught fire while moored in Zephyr Cove for renovations. It took U.S. Coast Guard and Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District officials about an hour to put out the flames, but not before the boat incurred significant damage.
The U.S. Coast Guard is still investigating the cause of the fire, but at the time of the blaze, sections of the hull were being replaced with metal and welded to the boat. Painting contractors were also on board.
“Unfortunately, the Tahoe Queen was damaged beyond repair … and we decided to remove the vessel from the water, so it can be safely dismantled,” said David Freireich of Aramark, the company that operates Lake Tahoe Cruises.
The boat had three decks and, according to Tahoe Douglas fire marshal Eric Guevin, all but one had “substantial” damage.
The process of dismantling the boat began on Jan. 9.
Known for her daily Emerald Bay sightseeing and dinner cruises, the Tahoe Queen was designed to reflect the elegance of boat travel in the early 1900s.
The paddle wheeler was built by the La Crosse River Boat Company in La Crosse, Wisconsin then hauled across the county in 16 truckloads. On Aug. 11, 1983, the Tahoe Queen was assembled and launched from the Tahoe Keys Marina for the first time.
Freireich said Aramark intends to eventually replace the Tahoe Queen with another boat.
“A timetable has not yet been established for doing so,” he added.
Two other boats still remain in the Lake Tahoe Cruises fleet — the larger paddle wheeler M.S. Dixie II and the 82-foot luxury yacht Tahoe Paradise.
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Through the final week of August and into September, Nevada County saw a surge of 488 confirmed COVID-19 cases, marking the highest number since early in the pandemic.