I haven't been on the Columbia in years. It's a little bit too quiet and motionless for me. I love the deck and how enormously themed it is, but I prefer the steam-powered Mark Twain. There's something about steam power, even if diesel underlies it, that makes a moving vehicle magical. I love cars and boats and just about anything made of steel that moves, but nothing can match the character of steam boats and trains.
Electric power just doesn't do it for me. Even as much as I love and look forward to the electric car, it will NEVER replace the beautiful 5-liter Mustang I owned for so many years. Electric cars have the potential for far more torque and pulling power, but it's the package (sound, progressive-pulling feel, feeling the vibration and power running through the stick shift, and having a physical cable connection to the engine) that made the experience.
So as much as I like the Columbia for its incredible theming, its method of propulsion just doesn't thrill me like the Mark Twain. I love standing under the Twain's steam exhaust and listening to it.
Nice article, two questions - where can you ride the Lady Washington? And were the coins on the mast in a position where you could see them, or were they hidden under the wooden mast? I also tend to agree that the Columbia is kind of boring to ride, it's nice to look at and provides great atmosphere, but the Mark Twain is a better ride.