Tag Archives: rivers

Power and Responsibility

For a good share of my life, I’ve lived close enough to the Mississippi River to be able to watch the barges with only a short drive to a viewing point.

It takes skill and attention to detail to control fifteen large floating containers (more on the Lower Mississippi) from a position of center rear. Other vessels, as small as canoes, share the same river. Pilots are also responsible for a crew. The men who ensure the barges remain cabled together, assist in all sort of ways when locking on the Upper Mississippi (or other rivers), and maintaining the equipment. It’s not an easy life. Perhaps an adventure for a strong, young person.

Not long ago, I happened upon the place on the Ohio River where many of these river pilots are trained.  Across the street from their training center a talented artist gives his interpretation of their “view.”

Watch your Step

Today our title is good general advice. And it comes to the forefront in special situations.

Walking across an uneven pasture –keep an eye out for “gifts” from large animals. Climbing up or down steps –even familiar ones can be tricky. Along a hiking path — is that a stick or a snake?

Recently I was a tourist. I enjoy exploring the riverfront in various cities I visit. It’s spring. The American Midwest. (Did I mention it was a rainy spring?) It was good to step careful and keep my feet dry.

The Ohio River showing a town along her route that she’s in charge.

One Year Ago

While getting ready to write this post I decided to browse through some photos and see what I could find on this date.

Exactly one year ago yesterday, I vacationed in Wisconsin. These vacations always include lots of time, laughter, and food with college and high school friends. (That’s what happens when you move away and they stay in the general area you grew up in.) It makes for a great vacation filled with familiar sights — yet things change. For example: trees grow. (Sadly, cemeteries also fill with familiar names.)

So in that spirit I give you a view of the St. Croix River taken from a park in Hudson, WI.

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Now complete the scene by imagining yourself sitting on a bench beside a friend and eating an ice cream cone. A touch of heaven!

Wet Highway

The Mississippi River is an active highway. Find a viewing spot from St. Paul, MN to New Orleans, LA and it won’t take long until a tow of barges comes past.

One small, powerful boat controls nine, twelve, or even fifteen barges at a time on the upper portions of the river. Below the entrance of the Ohio, you may find larger tows, depending on the shipping company and the expertise of the individual boat skipper.

While grain and coal are the most common barged items you’ll find on the river they are not the only ones present. Water is an efficient method to transport all sorts of heavy, bulky goods from one river port to another.

Pleasure craft abound on the river in the summer — wise fishermen stay out of the marked shipping channel. And all craft, from full barges to a single canoeist use the locks at the frequent dams north of St. Louis.

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Four barges carrying enough sand for thousands of backyard sandboxes.