The Spirit of Dubuque.

A riverboat that helped spark a new wave of tourism along Iowa’s eastern coast is leaving for Ohio.

The “Spirit of Dubuque” riverboat has been paddling on the Mississippi River for 40 years. It has been sold and will be docking on the Ohio River soon.

According to a website that tracks the history of steamboats, the “Spirit of Dubuque” was designed by Robert Kehl  of Dubuque. The “Spirit of Dubuque” was christened by Governor Robert Ray in 1977. In 1990, Kehl got the state’s first riverboat gambling license for cruises out of Dubuque, but on a different boat. Kehl sold the “Spirit of Dubuque” in 1994. It has operated sightseeing and dining cruises since then.

Kehl died in 2013. HIs family’s “Kehl Management” company now operates land-based casinos in Riverside and Larchwood.

The “Spirit of Dubuque” was designed to look like the riverboats that cruised the Mississippi in the 18-hundreds (1800s). It was built in Louisiana and has two paddle wheels. It has two decks as well. The open upper deck was for sightseeing as the vessel cruised the Mississippi.

According to advertisements for the riverboat, it was “the only Iowa-based, sightseeing paddle-wheeler on the Mississippi.”