Click for 27 pics in Picasa. Steamboating up the Mississippi River on the American Queen with stops at the ports of St Francisville, Natchez, Vicksburg and Helena. There were shore excursions at every port but we are not interested in great depth about the civil war, Southern gardens and so forth, so we walked and used their hop on hop off buses to explore independently. Again, nothing like Europe and it appears rural towns in America are struggling and run down. Helena for example was once a town of 45,000 people, now about 13,000 due to the closure of factories. A lot of shops in the port areas boarded up in the 1980s. A familiar story of young people having to leave small towns to get work. In Helena the local guide that came onto American Queen’s hop-on hop-off bus was excited that two youngish teachers had moved into town. They were able to buy a great looking two storey family home on a big block right in town for $60,000. A large Southern Mansion that we saw had recently sold for $160,000, but there is expensive upkeep particularly in complying with the historic preservation requirements.