Fort Madison IA (Iowa)

Cruise Port schedule, live map, terminals, news

Fort Madison IA cruise port

Canada and USA Rivers

Local Time
2024-06-22 03:53

min: 70 °F (21 °C) / max: 86 °F (30 °C) 71°F
Wind: 199°/ 5 m/s  Gust: 14 m/sWind: 199°/ 5 m/s  Gust: 14 m/sGentle breeze
5 m/s
Min / Max Temperature86 °F / 30 °C
70 °F / 22 °C
  Port Map

Fort Madison is a Mississippi River cruise port and city in Iowa USA's Lee County, with population around 10,000. Another "Madison" cruise port is Madison in Indiana (on Ohio River).

As cruise port, Fort Madison IA is included in the schedule of the USA's largest cruise line company ACL-American Cruise Lines.

Next is listed ACL's "Upper Mississippi River Cruise" itinerary that visits Fort Madison.

Date / TimePort
DAY 1Departing from St Louis Missouri/Alton Illinois
DAY 2Hannibal, Missouri
DAY 3Fort Madison, Iowa
DAY 4Davenport, Iowa
DAY 5Dubuque, Iowa
DAY 6Winona, Minnesota
DAY 7Red Wing, Minnesota
DAY 8Arriving in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota

The 7-night/8-day voyage (from St Louis MO/Alton IL to St Paul MN) is operated by the paddlewheeler American Heritage and the Modern Riverboats American Melody, American Serenade, American Symphony.

ACL offers two complimentary excursions in Fort Madison - the "Lee County Agritourism Excursion" (bus tour visiting two working farms - Hinterland Dairy Farmstead Cheese Farm, and Harvestville Farm) and "Historic Fort Madison Exploration" (bus tour to the military outpost site/1808-1813, and to the Iowa Territorial Prison/1839-2015).

In May 2019, city officials announced they are considering the construction of a new dock to serve river cruise ships. In April the city came to terms to fund and complete the Depot Project (including the new cruise platform) in the renovated historic depot. The new cruise facility will allow Viking River Cruises USA to include Fort Madison as a port of call in the company's Mississippi schedule thus annually bringing thousands of tourists to the city.

In the USD 1,5 million project, Viking invested $0,5 million. Fort Madison was included in the Viking Mississippi ship's schedule/the boat's inaugural season in 2022. However, for now, the city is visited via an optional bus tour (from Burlington Iowa) which also visits Nauvoo (Illinois).

In 2022 was initiated the USD 12 million "Fort Madison Marina Improvement Project" for increasing public access to the waterfront for economic and recreational and tourism purposes.


Most of Fort Madison's tourist attractions are in the Downtown Commercial Historic District and in the Park-to-Park Residential Historic District, both having well-preserved buildings representing various architectural styles. Annual activities that attract numerous domestic visitors to Fort Madison IA are the Tri-State Rodeo, Balloons Over the Mississippi, RiverFest, Mexican Fiesta, Central Park Art, the Parade of Lights (with lighted floats).

The settlement (as Fort Belleview) was established by the Army in the early-19th-century (1808) as Upper Mississippi's first permanent military post. It was constructed to control the region's trade and pacify the Sauks and other Indian tribes after the Louisiana Purchase (Louisiana Territory's acquisition in 1803) from the Revolutionary France/French Republic (1792-1804). The post was abandoned in 1813 and the reconstructed fort site is now a historic landmark (1973-listed in the US National Register of Historic Places). Fort Madison as a town was founded in 1835. It is named after James Madison Jr (1751-1836) who was the USA's fourth President (in office between 1809-1817).

The city is famous for the Fort Madison Toll Bridge (1927-opened) which is 2-deck/on 2 levels - the upper carries a 2-lane road (for vehicles) while the lower deck carries a 2-track railway (for trains). The bridge connects with Niota (Illinois) and is the Mississippi's last operational as well as the world's largest double swing-span/movable bridge (length 1 mi / 1,6 km, swing span 525 ft / 160 m).

The Bridge is owned and maintained by BNSF Railway and according to the USCG's regulations, the river traffic (cargo barges and cruise ships) has the right-of-way over the land-based traffic (vehicles and trains). Curiously, the bridge annually opens 2000+ times (or ~5 times daily) with openings lasting for ~15-20 min.

Amtrak's train station in Fort Madison is the only one in Iowa and is approx 2 mi / 3,2 km to the west of the bridge.

Fort Madison is Mississippi's crossing for Amtrak's long-distance railway service Southwest Chief (1974-established) linking the Great Lakes with California (Chicago-Los Angeles/route length 2265 mi / 3645 km).

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