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Riverboat Operator Holds Out Hope For Revival

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Visitors move in to get a closer look at whats left of the Lewis and Clark statue as the Mississippi River overtakes on the St. Louis Riverfront in St. Louis on April 19, 2013. Officials predict the Mississippi River to crest at 39.4 feet on the St. Louis riverfront on April 23. That is more than nine feet over flood stage. The record crest set back in 1993 was more than 49 feet.  UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Visitors move in to get a closer look at whats left of the Lewis and Clark statue as the Mississippi River overtakes on the St. Louis Riverfront in St. Louis on April 19, 2013. Officials predict the Mississippi River to crest at 39.4 feet on the St. Louis riverfront on April 23. That is more than nine feet over flood stage. The record crest set back in 1993 was more than 49 feet. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - While the Chesterfield Valley has become a shopper’s paradise and Valmeyer has a new home on the bluff, one area still has not recovered from the Flood of 1993, two decades later: the downtown St. Louis riverfront.

When the Burger King Boat slammed into the Poplar Street Bridge and the minesweeper Inaugural sank, it marked the beginning of the end for a riverfront lined with restaurants and other attractions.

“The Flood of ’93 was kind of a wake-up call to a lot of folks who had facilities on the riverfront,” says Tom Dunn, operator of the Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher excursion boats.

Dunn says our riverfront faces a unique challenge because the Mississippi River at St. Louis isn’t controlled by locks and dams.

“It’s a naturally flowing river and when Old Man River makes up his mind to do something, there’s no stopping him,” he says.

That uncertainty makes it more difficult for Dunn to do business in the shadow of the Arch but he’s hoping the planned Archgrounds improvements will lead to a riverfront revival.

“There’s been a lot of very successful operations on the riverfront in the past and there’s no reason why it can’t be in the future.”

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