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Longtime Mississippi River vessel in Dubuque sold

Sun dogs and the frozen Mississippi River in Pleasant Valley Iowa 1-9-15 photo shared by Lisa Martin via WQAD Facebook page

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — A longtime fixture in Dubuque will leave the Mississippi River for the Ohio as the Spirit of Dubuque paddleboat departs for Cincinnati.

Owner Walt Webster told the Telegraph Herald the dual-paddlewheel boat was expected to leave for its new home in Cincinnati this week.

“We’re at the point in our lives where it is time to move on,” he said. “We have very mixed emotions. You become very attached to (the business) over the years.”

Webster said Dubuque River Rides employed about 25 workers during summer months including employees who work at Ice Harbor Galley, a restaurant he and his wife opened in 2004. Webster said the restaurant will also close this summer but that there has been some outside interest in taking it over.

“These things are floating targets in terms of timing,” he said. “But July 1 is what we are shooting for (to close the restaurant).”

Dubuque Area Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO Keith Rahe said the Spirit of Dubuque has been a great draw throughout its tenure.

“Just the look of it, the fact that it is an authentic paddle-wheeler, people always remarked that going on the Spirit was like going back in time,” Rahe said. “I also think the fact that it was located in the Ice Harbor was a great thing. It was great to have it docked right there, given all the activity going on in the Port of Dubuque.”

In 1977, then-Gov. Robert Ray christened the Spirit of Dubuque and it has been stationed at the Port of Dubuque since. The Websters started Dubuque River Rides in 1994.

Read More: Last call for the Paddle Wheel Bar and Grill