“The African Queen” starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn ranks as 39 in the top 100 movies of the 20th century. And of course, Bogie and Hepburn rank among the top actors of all time in their field.
That’s why a trip to Key Largo Florida is essential for any classic film buff. That’s because the original boat used in the 1951 John Huston film is docked here.
The original African Queen is now a National Historic Landmark.
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The African Queen Used by Bogie & Hepburn
The little diesel powered boat was built in 1912 in the ship building town of Lytham England. It was working under the name Livingstone on Lake Albert in Uganda when John Huston first laid eyes on her. Apparently it sank in shallow water a couple of times during filming. But when it was all over, the Livingstone, unimpressed with its roll in Hollywood history, went back to work, keeping up the pace until 1968.
Eventually, the Livingstone was purchased for $65,000 by a guy named Jimmy Hendrix. Not that Jimi Hendrix! Can you imagine the Woodstock rock legend being a classic movie buff?
Anyway, the other Jimmy Hendrix eventually brought it to Key Largo in 1982 and didn’t do anything with it for nearly 30 years. Now owned by a trust, the African Queen was refurbished in 2012 and since then has been taking classic movie fans on 90 minute cruises along the waterways of Key Largo. It’s docked at the Marina del Mar Marina at Mile Marker 100.
The African Queen Today
As you can imagine from a boat that was built in 1912, it’s taken a beating over the years. Much of the original wood has rotted away, but not all of it. Some of the railing remains, and the tiller is the exact same one that Bogey and Hepburn navigated the rapids and the river.
But the most important part — it sounds the same.
I can assure you, there are a many more comfortable and expensive boats that cruise the waterways of the Florida Keys.
You’ll see a number of them on your short cruise. But there is none that has the story and the fascination of the world as does The African Queen of Key Largo Florida.