SPIRIT OF ALABAMA: BAMA BELLE OFFERS A LOOK AT THE PAST

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By WVUA 23 Student Reporter Molly Catherine Walsh

Time travel doesn’t exist, so you can’t exactly go back in time. But you can imagine what things might have been like back in the days of steam engines and paddle boats with a trip down the Black Warrior River on the Bama Belle.

After years of disrepair, the paddle boat docked is ready to welcome customers aboard once more thanks to new owner Craig Dodson.

Owning the boat is like living a dream, Dodson said.

“I worked on tow boats like these you see down the river as a teenager on the Mississippi River,” he said. “I’ve had boats all my life, and I’ve just always liked being on the water.”

Docked on the Black Warrior River off Jack Warner Parkway next to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, the Bama Belle riverboat is a double decker vessel powered by two engines Dodson said he dreamed of buying for more than 10 years.

The boat features a fully stocked bar, a parlor room and a top deck perfect for sightseeing and entertaining.

Potential passengers have plenty of options, such as the barbecue cruise featuring live music and Full Moon Barbecue on Fridays. Sightseeing cruises are available on Saturdays and Sundays, or you can book your own private event.

“Anything you can do in a building you can do on a boat,” Dodson said.

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