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Clinton Showboat

    City of Clinton Showboat    
303 Riverview Road -


  Omar Showboat     Showboat Close Up    Showboat Interior
She was built in 1935 and named "The Omar".  The Omar was designed as a working boat with a two-deck tug for the Ohio River Company.  Mainly made of steel, she ia 207 feet long, 36 feet wide and 37 1/2 feet high.
Her oaken paddlewheel, rebuilt in 1980, is approximately 32 feet in diameter.  Originally powered by two Marietta compound stem wheel engines, required 25 to 75 tons of coal a day, produced 1,000 horsepower.
For 25 years, the Omar pushed barges up and down the Ohio River.  Then in 1962, the Ohio River Company presented her to the state of West Virginia for use in its centennial celebration.  That marked the end of her working days and the beginning of her stage career.
She was converted from a tug to a showboat without losing her charming riverboat features.  The main deck, lounge and second deck captain's quarters were preserved.  The original gallery area and crew's quarters became the theatre.
By raising the pilothouse, a new third deck was created, providing theatre balcony and museu echibition space.  Crowing the "Rhododentron", renamed for the state flower, was the pilothouse with its captain's control wheel and a bird's eye view of the river.
The City of Clinton purchased the showboat "Rhododentron", from the state of West Virginia on September 15, 1966, at a public bid price of $21,165.  A week later, she began her 1,600 mile journery from Morgantown, West Virginia.  She was towed down the Monongahela River to Pittsburgh, on the Ohio River to Cairo, Illinois and then up the Mississippi River to her new home.  The Rhododentron was moored at Riverfront Park, entertaining the public with plays in the summertime, providing an appropriate focal point for the handsome park.
Late in 1983, the Clinton Park Board and the Showboat Advisory decided it was time to keep the moneys, paid the summer theatre companies, in Clinton.  An artistic director was hired and the Showboat Players were founded.  The first group of Showboat Players performed, in the Lillian Russell Theatre, during the summer of 1984.
The fall of 1988 saw the incorporation of a new nonprofit group - Clinton Area Showboat Theatre.  The CAST started running the theatre in the summer of 1989.  Also the City of Clinton received a grant, from the state of Iowa, to remove the boilers and convert the front portion of the main deck to a large open-room waiting area.
With the spring of 1991, riverboat gambling arrived to the Clinton area.  The first deck of the Showboat was completely rebuilt.  All small motors, generators and pumps were removed.  The Mississippi Belle ll built their new ticket office in the forward portion of the first deck, while the City of Clinton built a new box office for CAST and a concession stand.  Also the first deck theatre and dressing rooms received air conditioning and heat.
In 1999 with the opening of the Wild Rose Casino, the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation and the Iowa Gaming Commisssion moved out of the Showboat to 777 Wild Rose Drive.  The CAST has complete use of the Showboat moving the box office to the area occupied by the Gaming Commission and Artistic Director.  The Production Stage Manager's office is moved to the location vacated by the Department of Criminal Investigation.
With the help from the Vision Iowa Fund, some greatly needed changes and upgrades were made to the current facilities.  The entire Showboat received a new fire and security system.  Old theatre air conditioners were replaced with the installation two new roof units.  The Showboat exterior and paddle wheel were given a facelift with fresh paint.
The theatre interior saw some dramatic changes during the spring.  With help from local businessess and volunteers, the theatre received new carpeting, wood flooring and seats.  The seats were purchased from the DeWitt Opera House and installed by Floors-To-Go.