Drainage Map of the Mississippi River and its Tributaries. Some Facts and Figures

QUESTIONS! QUESTIONS!
For Jack, who wants to know more about all the tributaries of the Mississippi River: how many there are,  their names, and how long they are!

NPS.gov watershed tributaries

There are some 250 tributaries of the Mississippi which drain a total area of more than 1,247,000 square miles–one third of the nation’s landmass–extending from the Allegheny Mountains in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west!

Remember the Mississippi River Flood of 1993? It wasn’t just the Mississippi River flooding that wreaked havoc, it was that all those tributaries flooded as well! At one point, the volume of water flowing past St. Louis was eleven times the volume of Niagara Falls!!

We start here with quick facts on the Mississippi River and several navigable tributaries! Please follow links for a little more depth of historical interest and to see our collection of hand-painted maps!

The Mississippi River, from its source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota, to the Gulf of Mexico, is approximately 2,348 miles long. The combined reach of the Missouri-Mississippi Rivers is 3,741 miles–a length exceeded only by the Amazon and Nile rivers. The Mississippi River has shortened by several hundred miles since the days of Mark Twain. Even today it varies 30-50 miles each year.

The widest navigable part of the Mississippi is Lake Pepin, on the Upper Mississippi, where it is approximately 2 miles wide. The average current flows from 1.2 miles per hour nearer Lake Itasca, and about 3 mi per hour nearer New Orleans.

Our Mississippi River Ribbon Map has been a best-selling Gift for many years. Lisa now offers her own custom ribbon map designs of both the OHIO RIVER and the Missouri River. Please click on any map image for more info on the map or the tributary. Or PHONE 888-255-7726 to order any map. Mention you saw it on greatriver.com for a one time 10% discount!   Click on map images for more info on the tributaries.

 

 

Continue reading

 Railroad Trespass Hearings by Greg Koelker

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.”

Click this link to continue reading Greg’s report.

Monarch Butterflies Migrate Along the Mississippi River…Destination, Mexico!

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
c Pat Middleton. May not be reproduced or used in any format without permission.

beautiful monarch cluster DAVE COLLINS IMAGE

beautiful monarch cluster DAVE COLLINS IMAGE

The gentle shift to fall is palpable around us. The sun sets southward, over the neighbor’s pathway, rather than behind the northern bluffs. Geese fly from cornfield to cornfield in great flocks. 64 degrees today, 40 tonight. We gather firewood.

For the second year in a row, a swarm of Monarch butterflies have set up camp in the old cedar in the side yard. They hang motionless from the branches–like dull brown seed pods–until a late-comer flutters by. Then all gently beat their orange-colorful “hello” and “where’ve you been” until the traveler, too, is accommodated comfortably to its own berth for the night.

September 6, 2015  Each night this week we have had a single Monarch roost in the old Cedar tree and we remember how we once saw 100s. It takes our nightly guest a long time to settle in… perhaps it too “remembers” that there should have been more of his fellows here…

Along the Mississippi by Ruth Nissen, Wisconsin DNR

Monarchs Ready to Head South

About this time of year we begin to notice more monarch butterflies fluttering in the wind and congregating (or staging) in areas where bountiful supplies of nectar are available.

But what isn’t readily apparent is that those butterflies are moving with a purpose and direction. Every year, in late summer and early fall, millions of monarch butterflies from the Eastern United States and Southern Canada find their way to Central America. This is a journey of more than 2,000 miles from the Upper Mississippi River.

The monarchs are heading to the Transvolcanic Mountain Range, located west of Mexico City, to spend the winter. They gather there in huge colonies of tens of millions of butterflies, literally hanging from fir trees in clusters so thick they look like bundles of dead leaves.

The butterflies arrive in November and remain largely inactive until undertaking the return trip north in mid-March. How they find their way is a mystery because the monarchs that leave Mexico in spring are at least three generations removed from those that will make the journey back in the fall.

Monarchs leaving the wintering areas migrate 800 miles to the Southern United States, where they lay their eggs. The next generation on monarchs continues the northward migration to the upper United States and Canada. This continued movement north is necessary because southern milkweed plants die out in June. Two to three more generations are produced during the summer before the monarchs begin to flutter their way back to Mexico.

About 12 wintering sites have been identified in this mountain range of central Mexico. The monarchs are attracted to the high altitude fir forest of these sites because the combination of temperature, humidity, and wind velocity create the conditions essential to their survival. The canopy of the fir trees also protects them from large temperature fluctuations and winter storms.

Unfortunately, monarch experts say bad weather is not the greatest threat to the butterflies. As is the case in other forested areas, habitat destruction by humans is a much more serious concern. A monarch reserve has been created by the Mexican Government, but the reserve on includes five of the known wintering sites. In addition, logging pressure is heavy on 75% of the reserve area. Logging affects the microclimate to such an extent that either the monarchs may not use the site, or if they do, their survival over the winter is dramatically impacted.

In order to insure that the phenomenon of migration doesn’t disappear, it is very important that humans find some way to work together to preserve the livelihood of the local people in the wintering sites, which in turn would lower the economic pressure on the monarch reserve.

###

Along the Mississippi is an ongoing series related to the Mississippi River. Articles are prepared by officials with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and comments can be directed to the DNR office in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

 

Sandwich Islands, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, West Indies1878

DESTINATION MEXICO!!

    We’ve recently added this section for those who wish to follow the Monarchs to Mexico. The most visited sanctuary is El Rosario, and the best place to base yourself is the town of Angangueo, an old mining town. Seeing the butterflies, so thick that they sometimes BREAK tree branches (!) will require hikes of up to three hours, though it is not a strenuous hike. It is recommended that visitors hire a local guide or travel with a guided tour group.

If you travel independently:
If you approach from Brownsville, the first important city you will reach will be Ciudad Victoria, capital city of the state of Tamaulipas. By continuing on south you will cross the Tropic of Cancer at Jaumave, and at every mile you will notice more and more butterflies which often take the attention of even the disinterested tourist. At CiudadMante you will be at the very foot of the Sierra Madre Oriental range. Just south of Ciudad Mante the highway divides — one route goes to Tampico on the coast; the other veers southwest into the mountains towards Mexico City. Be sure to choose the latter route for best butterfly viewing. This route takes you to Nuevo Morelos and CiudadValles, and there is good butterfly viewing all the way from here down to Tamasunchale.

Our guided tour itinerary will give readers and idea what to expect from a journey. Looking for a good organization to travel with? Search the Internet and also have a look here.  Natural Habitat World Wide Tours offers tours (you guessed it!) world wide.

Rosario / Angangueo
From Mexico City, travel through the central highlands to the picturesque mountain village of Angangueo. The nearby Rosario Butterfly Sanctuary offers your first encounter with the king of the butterflies. The path is groomed, but sometimes fairly steep, trail with convenient benches for occasional rests. At the epicenter of millions of monarchs cover the tall oyamel and fir trees! Mexico’s sanctuaries may be the only places in the world where you can actually hear butterflies’ wings beating. Many Mexicans still hold the Aztec belief that the souls of the dead are reborn as monarchs.

Chincua / Angangueo
The Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary offers a second memorable experience with the monarchs. For those who choose, horses are available for this excursion. As Carlos Gottfried, president of Mexico’s Monarca A.C., says, “When you stand in a monarch sanctuary, your soul is shaken and your life is changed.” In Chincua, we ride our horses most of the way then walk down into the area of high butterfly density.

Piedra Herrada Sanctuary / Toluca / Mexico City
Relax in luxury at the luxurious Hotel Avandaro Spa & Resort in Valle de Bravo. A visit to the Piedra Herrada Sanctuary is the newest spot opened for viewing the monarchs. Once again, horses take us most of the way and we then walk, often through thick vegetation, to the spot where the butterflies are located. This area is “wilder” than the other two sanctuaries and often provides a more remote nature experience. During your return trip to Mexico City, stop in Toluca, originally an Indian settlement dating back to the 13th century.

 

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

Fall Color Peaks on the Upper Mississippi!

BEST Fall color on the AQRichard

I am just back from a beautiful three weeks cruising with the American Queen between St. Paul and St. Louis. Fall color should be here for the October 18th week in all its glory. Lots of Sunshine predicted, so plan to hit America’s Great River Road! Click here for CURRENT COLOR REPORTS.

eagleOut on the Mississippi River, we noticed an increasing abundance of American Bald Eagles each week of the Sept/October cruise. While my favorite stretches are from Lansing, IA to Red Wing, MN, truly we saw eagles all the way to Alton, Illinois. Noticeably more ADULTS than Juveniles. Not sure why that was. Has anyone else noticed that? Please comment below! Are the sheer number of adult prompting younger birds to be searching further afield? Have the juveniles already started south?

“Old Abe” participated in D-day landings via America’s 101st Airborne Division

Whenever we travel around the world, I love keeping an eye out for “things Mississippi River.” We recently participated in the 70th anniversary of the D-day landings on the beaches of Normandy France.Screaming Eagle

Among the Americans landing at Omaha Beach were the 101st Airborne Division whose logo is Wisconsin’s own “Old Abe” the eagle! We saw the “Screaming Eagle” displayed on hats, uniforms and even a French storefront!

Old Abe was a mascot during the Civil War for soldiers from Eau Claire and La Crosse, Wisconsin. Abe eventually followed the soldiers for over 14,000 miles, and flew unfettered, above 36 battlefields in Missouri, Mississippi, and Louisiana throughout the Civil War.

Abe’s statue today sits above the Wisconsin monument at the Civil War battlefield in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Confederate sharpshooters were always assigned to bring down that “screaming ol’ buzzard.” Abe survived and was cared for at the Wisconsin state capitol by Wisconsin veterans until his death in 1881.

Old Abe, Vicksburg

I write quite a bit about Old Abe in Volume 4 of DISCOVER! AMERICA’s GREAT RIVER ROAD  …      “We enjoyed our epic journey enormously, thanks mostly to your DISCOVER! America’s Great River Road guidebooks. The history, culture, and suggested detours provided daily fascination. We just wanted to thank you for your good work!”   ~ Readers from Vermont

Small Boat Cruising with BLOUNT to Belize and Guatamala

Birding as we Cruise up the Rio Dulce into Guatemala.

Birding as we Cruise up the Rio Dulce into Guatemala.

Just finishing up a fun travel feature regarding our cruise with Blount Small Ship Adventures to Guatemala and Belize. Get a quick visual preview of our cruise along the Barrier Reef off Belize, and up the Rio Dulce into the heart of Mayan country in Guatemala by visiting  our photo collection at http://greatriver.smugmug.com/Travel/Cruising-Belize-Barrier-Reef/

See ALL our travel features at www.greatriver.com/waterwaycruises

 

 

Introducing John Bartholomew, English Cartagrapher

 

Lisa's draft brochure updateFor those who have noticed our promotion of our new line of historic OLD PACIFIC NORTHWEST maps, we are pleased to introduce our Map Artist, Lisa Middleton! Lisa’s home base is Kalispell, Montana. We are pleased to note that her art was recently designated as a “Made in Montana” brand. This is a juried brand that carries a great deal of prestige for artists in the Northwest. Congratulations, Lisa!!

Many of Lisa’s maps of the old Pacific Northwest were produced by Cartographer, John Bartholomew, a significant Cartagrapher from 1831-1893. Bartholomew learned his trade from his own father. His son, John George Bartholomew (1860-1920) brought the firm to prominence. Eventually five generations were involved in the company trade. This Edinburgh, Scotland, map company produced a series of detailed American state maps which become even more stunning when painted by Lisa Middleton.

Lisa’s current collection includes many Bartholomew maps of the west produced in the 1870s to 1890s. The Lake Erie, Montana, and Idaho maps were all originally published by John Bartholomew. We recognize them because the “Scale of Miles” is in “English Miles.” Maps may be labeled “Bartholomew,” “John Bartholomew, or “Bartholmew and Company.”

Lisa will be presenting her product to Western retailers at the “Made in Montana” show in Great Falls, Montana, March 20-22. Please do drop by and see this fresh historic map product! See all her Mississippi River and historic Pacific Northwest maps at www.greatriver.smugmug.com/Art.

 

Great River Arts January Newsletter… and RAILROADING News

Please click link to view our JANUARY newsletter from Great River Arts. Lisa has featured a number of brand new hand-painted historic maps from her Gallery, as well as several new book releases from Great River Publishing.

Old Time Railroad Stories by Michael GillespieComing soon in PRINT from Great River Publishing is Mike Gillespie’s railroad anthology, OLD TIME Railroad STORIES! Call 888-255-7726 to reserve a copy from our first printing in March!

What a great match OLD TIME RAILROAD STORIES will be for our new MONTANA RAILWAYS historic map and our travel reviews of CLASSIC TRAIN JOURNEYS along great rivers in Canada, Alaska, and Europe.

Entertaining New History of Steam from Michael Gillespie

Great River Publishing is pleased to announce the KINDLE release of Michael Gillespie’s new steam history: 

RAILROAD STORIES..True Adventures, Humorous Tales, and High Melodrama from the Days of Steam [Kindle Edition]

Click on cover image to explore a sample edition ONLINE or to download a sample directly to your Kindle!
In this 340 page collection of old railroading stories, Michael applies his generous wit, dry humor, and historical insights to the school of railroading literature at the height of the steam era … journals, press reports, trade magazines all produced stories meant at the time to entertain readers… but which today offer a compelling folk history from the early days of railroads.

Cruising with Quasar Expeditions on the Galapagos EVOLUTION

WATERWAY CRUISE REPORT
Colored letters indicate a link to more information



Let me say right up front that not since the old Delta Queen Steamboat Company (with whom I did at least 40 cruises as guest lecturer) have I felt such loyalty to a cruise operator.  Quasar Expeditions, like the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, operates on passion… not for their business, but for Ecuador and the Galapagos, and for their GUESTS.


For most of us, the biggest puzzle pieces in putting together a Galapagos cruise are… “Who shall I travel with, and, when should I go?”

Once we discovered the 32-passenger Galapagos EVOLUTION and Quasar Expeditions, it was clear sailing… especially in hind-sight…everything about this cruise and our eventual visit to the Andes highlands turned out to be immensely satisfying!

December to May is considered to be prime time, weather-wise, for visiting the Galapagos islands.  Our May visit featured rich, green plant-life and fair skies. Every bird species, from finch to Albatross, lizard to seal lion seemed to be nesting, mating, and feeding with abandon. But, honestly, most species in the Galapagos are opportunistic when it comes to reproduction… one month is as good as another for attracting a mate and raising a brood.

WHO to travel with is another matter.

A rule of thumb, is that smaller vessels rate better access to islands in the Galapagos. But we didn’t really want to risk chartering a small sailing boat with minimal amenities and an unknown operator. So we had an eye out for a slightly larger vessel, with a luxury tradition. With 32-passengers, a sleek classic yacht design, a modern, informative web-site, and luxury ratings for meals and accommodations, the EVOLUTION seemed to be our vessel.

Quasar Expeditions is one of the oldest cruise operators in the Galapagos. The family has offered cruises of the Galapagos since the 1980s and offered us trouble-free travel planning… both cruise passengers had the advantage of knowledgeable and passionate naturalists, excellent food, and superb access to the islands. Quasar also organized our week-long land tour in the Andes highlands around Quito… Our driver and English-speaking guide took a personal interest in our satisfaction from the moment they picked us up at the airport to the moment they waved us off the Tarmac.

While Quasar Expeditions is an Ecuadoran company, every contact we had was with an English speaking individual.  From website to office staff, the company is positioned specifically to deal with English-speaking populations.

“The understanding that we are an English-speaking company makes it easier for us to
garner the finest crew, naturalists, and to meet the expectations of an English-speaking clientel,” I was told. “Plus, we don’t just want you to come and enjoy the islands, we want you to leave the EVOLUTION with a new cadre of FRIENDS. That just happens more easily if everyone speaks the same language.”

Aboard the EVOLUTION

Alex was our preferred naturalist… mainly because of his love of the islands, and because of his 20 years of experience! But for those whose personal perspective is that this was a “vacation” and no “mandatory learning” was allowed, we had a second naturalist whose main focus was “learn a little” and have a great time! Every Galapagos naturalist today is professionally trained to interpret and protect this unique natural heritage.

On my first open ocean snorkeling excursion, I panicked and clung to the ladder.

“Alex,” I urged, “don’t wait for me. I’ll just hang here for a while.”

“I don’t go anywhere unless you decide to come with me, or get back in the boat,” he explained. “I don’t leave you in the water alone.” I felt absolutely safe with Alex from that point forward.

Snorkeling, panga rides, and kayaking were all available options for daily water-based activities. Snorkeling was by far the most popular… Turtles, white-tipped sharks, swimming with sea lions, and even “circling-up” when visited by several hammerhead sharks provided highlites on our EVOLUTION cruise. Oh yes, and we were joined by a pod of leaping dolphins during one of many memorable panga excursions!

“I really could not believe it was ME out there snorkeling with Hammerhead sharks!” one Minnesota passenger exalted.   And sea turtles were ABUNDANT in the clear waters!
 

Twice each day, the naturalists led us ashore for an island hike. An afternoon nap was mandatory, so that everyone had the energy to do the really important stuff… like hiking among the booby’s and iguanas, and magnificent Frigate Birds.

The AMAZING thing is  that these creatures truly have no fear of humans!! It was as if we had entered into the Garden of Eden.

 

While it is not necessary to  be   a student athlete to visit the Galapagos Islands, for the first time on any cruise, we found ourselves to be among the older visitors, rather than the younger!

It IS necessary to be able to hike for a mile or two… some of it over rocky lava surfaces, or up and down short steep slopes.

“Wet landings” are common, so be prepared to swing your legs over the side of a rubber panga!

I did bring two pieces of “gear” that I found incredibly useful…trekking poles that could be unscrewed to fit in a small carry-on suitcase, and lightweight Salomon’s “Amphibian” style hiking shoes with webbing. The trekking poles worked great when we were on lava rocks.

 

 

The specialized water/hiking shoes were great for wet landings. The webbing meant shoes dried quickly. The hiking soles stuck like glue to wet rock and afforded comfortable cushioning for the rest of the hike.

Casual dress is definitely the order of the day for this cruise.

The Dining Room of the EVOLUTION offered hot coffee at all hours, cookies, tea, and water or Sodas. Our hotel manager prided himself on serving excellent meals, with fully dressed tables at every meal. Seafood, meats, and vegetables often with an Ecuadoran flavor greeted us at every meal.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for me,” he commented. “I really put everything I have into our meals and presentation.”

For my part, I often chose some of the more casual tables on deck, overlooking the bays and coves of the islands! Birding was excellent, even from the boat. Frigate birds often lined up on the various overhead lines of the vessel.

 Life on board the EVOLUTION was easy. Our cabins were immaculately clean. In seven days, I never once crossed paths with our housekeepers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

… the large hot tub , and the lounge were popular gathering spots.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for following our series on cruising the Galapagos Islands!….  But there is more to Ecuador than the Galapagos. 


 

You may decide to add on a visit to the Andes highlands, or the Amazon Jungle. Please check back for a review of our land tour in the highlands.

Meantime, my best advice is to consider planning now for your Galapagos tour…

 Return to WATERWAY CRUISE REPORTS

Return to www.greatriver.com  THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER HOME PAGE

Return to RAMBLIN’ ON