Fort Madison business owners see steep increase in foot traffic with return of river cruise ships


FORT MADISON (WGEM) – An American Cruise Lines riverboat stopped at Fort Madison on Sunday and drew more than 100 tourists to town.

Patricia Hyde is a resident of Massachusetts. She hopped on the American Cruise Line riverboat in St. Louis, enjoyed the drive to Fort Madison, and cruised around town for a few hours.

“The most interesting thing is the barges. Here you have beautiful scenery and a lovely little town. I wish we could stop further away, but we only have one weekend,” he said. Hyde said.

Sandy Ayers and her husband traveled from Ohio for the riverboat and said they wished they could see more and shop more as well.

“We got to go to the Fort and see demos there and there’s a teacher there who is very interesting. He knows a lot about this whole area,” Ayers said.

Old Fort Madison is one of the historical sites they visited. Site manager Eugene Watkins said tourism more than doubled its activity over the weekend.

“Usually it’s not that busy so it’s been, you know, very positive for us,” Watkins said.

Watkins said business is starting to slow at this time of year. He said that on average 60 people spend a normal weekend. He said that this weekend 120 people came.

“This has been very helpful for our results, I guess you could say, and for us to know about us pretty much across the country. These tours are from people all over the United States.”

Ayers said Fort Madison is a great sight to see.

“Well that has been great. I wish we were here on a day other than Sunday when everything is closed, but it looks like a great little river town and I love seeing all the houses we passed through. “said Ayers.

The riverboat departed Fort Madison at 2:00 p.m. Sunday to complete the remainder of its tour through the Midwest.

Watkins said Old Fort Madison, located in Riverview Park, is open for tours on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until the end of October.

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