Thank you, Greg Koelker for detailed report on Mississippi River Railroad Trespass Hearings. This is a significant issue for all of us along the Upper Mississippi River. If folks are not allowed to cross the railroad tracks. the trains which rattle our countryside constantly will also become a FENCE to separate us from the recreational resources we ALL love most about the river. It is worth paying attention to the discussions. ~Pat
Railroad Trespass Hearings by Greg Koelker
Some 200 hunters, fishermen, trappers, birders, snowmobilers, business owners, community leaders, government employees and other concerned Mississippi River recreation enthusiasts showed up to be heard by State Senator Jennifer Shilling, Tim Yager from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Railroad Commissioner of Wisconsin, Yash Wadhwa at the De Soto Community Center and Stoddard Legion on April 22.
After introductions, Tim Yager informed the group that there has been investigation into 17 to 18 additional rail crossings along the Mississippi with good line of sight. He added that these could cost between $15,000 and $250,000 each. He said that the position of the USFW is that they want safe and adequate access to the over 240,000 acres of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge. The river is bordered by railroad tracks on both shores.
Dan Knapek of De Soto asked what percent of the railroad’s profit would it take to create the needed rail crossings. Commissioner Wadwa said there were already 26 possible crossings being investigated. They are looking to define all options and look into shared cost.
Long time member of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Bill Howe of Prairie du Chien said, “The railroad’s desire to limit access entirely impacts the entire rail system in this country.” Howe called the railroad’s position, “…a great threat.” He added that 15 to 20% of railroads are not on their own lands.
Dan Trawicke of Waukesha, representing the Safari Club, said, “This is not just a Western Wisconsin problem.” He said that safety is a number one concern, but he added that it takes common sense. “Additional crossings are not the answer,” said Trawicke, “we have a constitutional right” to access those lands.
Greg Koelker of Stoddard said, “Safely crossing a railroad track is no different that safely crossing a highway. Look both ways and listen. Then cross if it is safe. Every first grader knows that.” He added, “. . . no amount of legislation will change the minds of suicidal people, drunks, idiots trying to beat a train, protesters of whatever, and especially not terrorists.” Koelker brought up the long tradition of using the tracks to access the river. “I grew up near Cassville and my dad and I would walk the tracks to access ice fishing sports on Bertram Lake. For years, our family members crossed the tracks to trap and hunt ducks and deer and even morel mushrooms. I used to cross the tracks at Shady Maple to ice fish with my family. I have friends who cross the tracks to hunt ducks out on peninsulas along the river. There is no other way to get to those waters for much of the year.” Koelker said he hears from legitimate sources that at least 50% of our legislators already support the change. He added that, “I understand that the Railroad Commissioner has the power to order placement of railroad crossings. I urge you to consider directing more pedestrian railroad crossings and to support changing the trespass law to allow direct crossing of the tracks.”
Birders! Mississippi Valley Conservancy needs your HELP! We are seeking volunteers to look and listen for birds to help determine presence or absence of declining bird species on different sites throughout southwest Wisconsin. Volunteers essentially would go to a site in early morning and make a list of any birds seen and/or heard. Sites vary between MVC nature preserves or private lands MVC is working to protect. These bird lists provide invaluable information will help to guide our restoration activities and prioritize sites with breeding populations of declining birds. If interested, email Abbie Church, MVC Conservation Director at email@example.com with your preference for habitat (forest, wetland, grassland); geographical interest (La Crosse County, Monroe County, anywhere, etc) and availability. We’re hoping to schedule site visits throughout May. Sites include woodlands, grasslands, and pastures in Trempealeau, La Crosse, Jackson, Monroe, Crawford, and Vernon Counties.
Some 2-3 weeks ago we were are out along the Mississippi and marveled at the number of fishing boats clustered below the dams. I’m starting to see pix that explain the boats! Apparently at this time, with higher water, the perch have cooled, So walleye and sauger are more common. But it sure IS tantalizing!! For updates on fishing, please check our fishing category or the Genoa fishing barge. Photos courtesy Mark Clements.
Just updating viewers that swans are abundant this weekend just beyond rice beds south of Goose Island on Wisconsin. Hwy 35.
My favorite birder and bird photographer has posted his report on Pool 8, below. According to Alan this is the time to see Tundra swans up close at the wayside south of Brownsville! Lots of ducks, Hawks, eagles, and Pelicans. Check in south of Goose Island on Wisconsin’s Hyw 35 for more of the same!
Things are finally picking up a bit on Pool 8 of the Mississippi with Tundra Swans now in close viewing distance from the Brownsville FWS Overlook. Of course, besides the swans there are plenty of other waterfowl to see as well as pelicans, eagles and other raptors.
My suggestion is that if you are thinking about going to Brownsville, this is the weekend to do it. Next week looks rainy (Mon-Wed) and then look out… It looks like our first taste of winter will be on our doorstep Thu/Fri and into next week. Looking at the computer models, they are consistently showing sharply colder temps and some of the models are showing measurable snow. The cold snap looks to last 5 days or so before moderation once again. Will it be enough to freeze up the river? Could be… or maybe not. If so, say good-bye to the show at Brownsville.
Perfectly gorgeous Fall weather…with day-time highs in the lows 60s… should continue for another week and a half into October. Get out and enjoy! Color will make a steady march south for the next several weeks. Hardwoods (hickories, maples, and finally, oaks) have begun to illuminate the bluffs! Red, and sugar maples (yellow), love the southeast facing slopes near Lansing and Mc Gregor, Iowa.
Check out the march of color in the next post. Call hotlines ahead or check online for best color in the 10 Mississippi River states!
A few bright yellow aspens and birch still have their leaves, and hickories are sporting some orangish brown. The last leaves to drop are the oaks, so once the bluffs turn a rich uniform brown, we know the color season has nearly ended. Softwoods in the river bottoms are steadily losing leaves that never become really brilliant.
Additionally, Hummers are gone, and Sandhill cranes departed our valley. Pelicans have gathered up along the river and look like heavy clumps of pure white snow. Egrets and Great Blue Herons are still on the backwaters. Duck hunting is in full swing and adult American Bald Eagles are abundant! Color is great, but lots more to see along your route!
Bellevue State Park Butterfly Sanctuary
Bellevue State Park, near Bellevue, Iowa, just south of Dubuque, is located atop a 300-foot high limestone bluff with panoramic views of the Mississippi River valley and Lock & Dam 12. It also shelters the largest Butterfly Garden in Iowa.
The Garden Sanctuary for Butterflies contains over 100 separate plots, each featuring plants which provide nectar for adult butterflies and/or host plants for caterpillars. Pathways allow visitors to enjoy the wide variety of butterflies and flowers. An area has been established next to the garden to allow close-up viewing of the butterflies.
According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, butterflies found in Iowa are either in the process of migration or are completing one of the various stages of their life cycle. Approximately 60 species of butterfly can be expected to make their appearance at the Butterfly Garden each year. Host plants for butterflies include wild aster, ragweed, goldenrod, lamb’s-quarters, daisy fleabane, milkweed, cottonwoods, wild cherry, hackberry and willows.
ALMANAC, August 3, MONARCHS IN THE CEDAR TREE
|Information: The El Rosario Sanctuary is accessible from either Angangueo or Ocampo. Angangueo is approximately 115 kilometers from Morelia and 205 kilometers from Mexico City.
When to Go: August through October
Ribbon Map of the entire Mississippi,
including Lake Glazier, MN. 1887
Drawn by Willard Glazier
This ribbon map was drawn by Captain Willard Glazier to “prove” his premise that the True Source of the Mississippi was Lake Glazier rather than Lake Itasca. Many modern-day towns are included in this survey, including Point Coupee in Louisiana. Many towns noted on the map…such as Waterproof… no longer exist!
River Ribbon Maps”
from an article by Bob Mullen, for The Paddlewheel newsletter.
Imagine a map of the Mississippi River that shows all of the cities and towns along the river and all the landings where a steamboat might stop. Make the map about three inches wide and in one continuous strip showing the entire river from the Gulf of Mexico to its source at Lake Itasca, Minnesota. If you imagined correctly, you would have a map that is about eleven feet in length, like a long streamer or ribbon. Now roll up the map to a couple of inches in diameter and put into a cylindrical container that can easily fit into your pocket!
Such maps do exist. In 1866, Myron Coloney and Sidney B. Fairchild patented and published a map like this in St. Louis. In 1887, explorer Willard Glazier produced another ribbon map that included a lake he called Lake Willard, which he believed was the TRUE source of the Mississippi River. The 1866 map was sold commercially in St. Louis and along the river for a number of years. The maps were housed in a wooden cylinder with a rounded wooden cap at each end. On the side, a slot was cut where the map could be pulled out to give people a way to grasp it when pulling the map from its case. The patent granted the inventors was for “the idea or design ofmaps upon strips of any material,” as stated on the map itself. Glazier’s 1877 map was folded and printed with the guide to his canoe trip from Lake Willard in Minnesota to the Gulf. It includes most of the river villages we know today, as well as many which have since been washed away by Mississippi River flooding.
These maps both show considerable detail, but could never be used by a steamboat pilot for serious navigation. The river was much to complicated with islands, tricky bends, wing dams, and other obstacles to fit on a map like this. The ribbon map must have been made for the tourist or other traveler on the river who had enough expendable money to pay for such a souvenir. While the boat’s pilot had a detailed map to follow (often only in his memory), these ribbon maps served the traveler with a way to keep track of the boat’s progress on a long trip. It even pointed out a few points of interest. A notice in the July 10, 1866 Missouri Republican stated, “To the traveler, it will be an exciting guide and companion, and will furnish him with more information at a glance than he can secure from a constant questioning of the officers of the boat… to say nothing of avoiding a short answer from, or an immensity of annoyance to, these monarchs of our Mississippi River palaces.”
Only a handful of original ribbon maps exist today, scattered in museums across the country. The Smithsonian has one and the Missouri Historical Society of Missouri owns three Mississippi River ribbon maps. Each of these is extremely fragile and can no longer be handled. One of the maps at MHS is about eight inches wide, and has all the detail a riverboat pilot would need. Housed in a larger wooden box with a glass window, the map winds from a roll on one side of the window to a box on the other side of the window. The map in the window only shows an area some 30-40 miles… new scrolls could be set in place as the pilot traveled the length of the river.
In the 140 years since the first ribbon map appeared, nearly every one has disappeared. The Willard Glazier Reproduction here on www.greatriver.com is the only ribbon map we know of that is still available for sale to the public. Each map is either hand-stained to a sepia tone and parchment feel or is exquisitely hand-painted for framing.
Click here to see ALL of our beautiful antique Mississippi River maps online. Email or phone 888-255-7726 for more information!!
5×7″ notecards with portions of the painted maps are available for $4.95 each. Call for information or to request a certain map portion that is meaningful to you.