CINCINNATI -- In 1951, the African Queen steamed to film glory down an East African river. Last week the Queen was en route from Key Largo, Fla., to Cincinnati via interstate highway.
The 30-by-8-foot boat, for which the 1951 movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn was named, spends a lot of time these days at boat shows.
Owner Jim Hendricks of Key Largo bought the boat for $65,000.
"I don't want to sound noble, but I do feel an obligation to keep the boat in good shape," says Hendricks, 63, a retired lawyer who owns a motel. "I've always reported to Katharine Hepburn about her status, and Ms. Hepburn has written me a dozen letters and called me a half dozen times."
Originally owned by the British East Africa Railroad Co., the boat was used, starting in 1912, to take hunting parties and tourists up the Victorian Nile River to Victoria Falls.
In 1951, it was chartered by director John Huston.
"The movie people muddied her up a bit," said Hendricks. "They wanted her to look a little worse for wear than she really was."
In the film, the Queen helped Bogart and Hepburn elude World War I Germans. In one of the movie's most memorable scenes, Bogart pulls the boat through a shallow, leech-infested swamp.
After the film, the Queen was used by the British railroad firm until 1968, and the boat was sold to Fred Reeves of San Francisco for $700.
It was later sold to an engineer, Hal Bailey, and in 1982, he sold it to Hendricks.