Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mississippi River where the Illinois River joins - and a tow.

Smaller tow boat

CHICAGO by Carl Sandburg

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders . . .

This is the beginning of Sandburg's poem that I have been reminded of the past few days as I've traveled from Chicago to the terminus of the Illinois River where it joins the Mississippi. The entire poem is one of my favorites. From the harbor south of Chicago to here in Grafton, Ill, a picture of industry in America emerges including agriculture with grain being loaded onto barges for shipping to New Orleans and the small towns where people go about everyday life living perhaps an entire lifetime within 25 miles. Despite the barges, power companies, grain elevators and small towns engaged in whatever they do, much of the river is long stretches of solitude and trees along the river bank.

As I said in the previous posting, tomorrow I travel to the famous Hoppie’s Marina, 50 miles below St. Louis and prepare for the final 240 miles. Increased chance of thunderstorms from tomorrow night through Friday. Why are there no boat services in that distance other than some public ramps here and there for the locals? Many of the towns along the Mississippi have continuously moved their river facilities and towns farther inland after each major flood prompting them to forgo river services entirely. Supposedly Paducah, along the stretch of the Ohio I must travel, has applied to build a public marina near town. This would be a plus for boaters traveling from the Mississippi up the Ohio 30 miles, then the Tennessee River a short way up to Kentucky Lake. I may have to "anchor out" Friday night along the river in a storm hole to complete the trip on Saturday. The SPOT may be my only communication. We'll see.


  1. Finding a SPOT to "anchor out" sounds comparable to finding a BLIND to wait for pheasants during hunting season. A good BLIND was the difference between a successful hunt and a photography experience. I hope you find a nice, grassy habitat in which to "anchor out" until it's time to move on.

  2. With a trip to Chicago this weekend, I will not experience the interest of the outskirt industries & farmland you saw, but the arts and shopping areas of the Magnificent Mile. A city to visit but not one I would trade for KC.
    Your last leg may be one of your more challenging ones with the flood stage of the Miss. and the sparsely placed marinas. No fear - you will persevere!!!

  3. In the homestretch Lyn! The final 240 miles sound like a long 2 days (and night). We are excited to welcome you back to Colorado and wildflowers in bloom! -Tina, Vardo, the girls, and Cooper