The Original African Queen, from the movie The African Queen, staring the legendary Humphrey Bogart and enchanting Kathrine Hepburn, is on Public display behind the Key Largo Princess glass bottom boat at the Holiday Inn dock in Key Largo, Florida.
The Queen was built in Lytham England in 1912 for service on the Victoria Nile and Lake Albert where the movie was to be filmed. John Hoesil (art director) discovered the little steam engine on the shores of Lake Albert where he gave her a makeover for her big screen debut. Then, she went to work for British East Africa Company from 1912 to 1968. Then, she was auctioned off by the Kampala Lions club in San Francisco.
On June 29, 1968, the African Queen made her American debut at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce with Joe Dimaggio and the Mayor made her a member of the Bay City’s Golden Fleet. Sadly the love affair was only short lived.
In 1970, a man named Hal Bailey saw a picture and an article about the Queen in an Oregon newspaper with a for sale sign on her. Bailey rescued the Queen and cleaned her up and started running her up and down the Deschutes River in Organ. Bailey wanted to be able to the run the Queen year round so strapped her onto her trailer and began the trip down south.
Once Bailey got to Florida he only found disappointment the U.S. Coast Guard would not let him launch The African Queen in any waters they had jurisdiction because she was foreign built vessel. So Bailey started looking for a good home for the Queen.
In 1982, a retired lawyer name James W. Hendricks bought the boat from Bailey and transported the boat south to Key Largo Florida. She was then taking touring all around the world, from the Queen of England to Ireland, and held her own in a couple of boat races. Now, she is home in Key Largo where to this day she still gives rides to people who want to capture a piece of movie history.