New Julia Belle Swain owner details plans for riverboat’s future

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — A nautical beacon of history will bid farewell to La Crosse next year.

The steam-powered Julia Belle Swain has been docked in the area for about a decade.

A Florida-based yacht cruise company bought the boat from the nonprofit Julia Belle Swain Foundation at the end of last year.

The owner says he grew up with a passion for riverboats. He plans to finish renovating the Belle Swain and use it for year-round river cruises to continue to tell the story of the Mississippi.

Before leaving with the Julia Belle Swain, he says the community will have a chance to give it a proper goodbye.

“We will do plenty of cruises in La Crosse before we leave town,” said new owner Troy Manthey. “We feel very indebted to the City of La Crosse, the passion of the workers here restoring the boats. It’s just incredible.”

Manthey said those cruises in La Crosse will take place in mid to late spring next year. He also thanked the Julia Belle Swain Foundation for its efforts since 2013 to preserve the boat.

By the end of the restoration, Manthey says the boat will have another 50 years of life on the water.