Memphis Riverboats, formerly Memphis Queen Line, was a family business owned primarily by Capt. Jake Meanley and his sister Capt. Dale Lozier. Originally, the business started as the Memphis Queen Line, with the Memphis Queen II, a two-decked sternwheeler, that was built for Capt. Ed Langford in 1955 by the Dubuque Boat and Boiler Works. Due to failing health, Capt. Ed sold the vessel in 1960 to Capt. Tom Meanley, a reporter-photographer for the Memphis Press-Scimitar. Capt. Tom believed he had bought a summer job as Mississippi River Paddlewheeler pilot. A few years later, a decision was made to expand the company, his summer job became a full-time endeavor, and he decided to leave his position with the newspaper.
His wife Carol, daughter Dale age 13 and, son Jake age 12, all were involved in the family business. Dale’s soon to be husband John Lozier, a student at Memphis State University, was hired in the spring of 1961. The business grew with the completion of the 600 passenger party barge Memphis Showboat in 1964. Followed by the addition of the true sternwheeler Belle Carol (named after Mrs. Meanley, of course), a 65 passenger vessel in 1967. Then Capt. Tom designed and built a tug, the Capt. Jake, in his own backyard. He went on to bigger and better when he designed the 65-foot yacht LORAC (“Carol” backwards) with a dream of sailing around the world. Unfortunately Carol Meanley was diagnosed with cancer soon after the boat’s launching in 1975, and passed away before she and Capt. Tom could realize their dream of sailing around the world on the Lorac.
Meanwhile, Capt. Tom decided that the backyard was ready for an even larger boat. This time he designed and built the 300 passenger Memphis Queen III which was completed in 1978. The current fleet was not quite satisfying for Capt. Tom, and with Mud IsIand, a Mississippi River theme park in the works, the Island Queen was born. Construction began (again in the -backyard) on the Island Queen, a 300 passenger triple-decked sternwheeler, which was completed in 1984. Capt. Tom retired and lived where he was born in San Diego, California, until his return to Memphis where he passed away in 1996. Having sold most of his company to Jake, John and Dale Lozier (married 19 1/2 years).
John passed away in 1988 and Jake and Dale operated the company with the assistance of friend Jimmy Ogle, whom they knew from his earlier days at Mud Island. Capt. Jake and Capt. Dale had great plans for the business since Memphis had become a tourist destination. Capt. Dale’s sons John, and William Lozier became third generation captains and confirmed river rats having worked on ol’ Man River. John completed his law degree at Tulane University and became a maritime lawyer in Greenville, MS. In 2005, William bought out the family business and began to update and refurbish the fleet, now known as Memphis Riverboats.