Shantyboat Adventure on the Upper Mississippi River

I have been following a modern-day shantyboat adventure that will interest many of our readers!Shantyboat-Guys-Pano-1440x400 Wes Modes has been working diligently for more than a year to organize and implement his effort to document more of the history and personal stories of people who live along the river. Wes has been traveling south through the Upper Mississippi, blogging his “Secret History of American River People.” His most recent entries include Dubuque, IA
See more here: http://peoplesriverhistory.us

We have also published an authentic shantyboat adventure online dating from the 1930s by CARL FRANSON.
Enjoy that story here… http://www.greatriver.com/2ndage/index.html

Upper Mississippi Has Iced Over in a Hurry!

sepia eagles on nest

Nov. 18… Upper River is shutting down! Pretty much ice-covered. I remember years when I was riding the Steamboats on Nov. 17th!  This morning I saw 9 eagles clustered around a small area of open water. This afternoon…. no more small areas of open water!! Eagles are abundant… I must have seen 20 in a 5 mile stetch this morning… but the river tonight is pretty well sealed up. Eagles will be moving to open water just below the dams. Swans and Pelicans evaporated! Waterfowl are still migrating through looking for open water!

Eagle nests are now clearly visible along the river.

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Nov. 10……. Have been driving along the Wisconsin shore north and south of La Crosse. Lots of Swans, and other migrating waterfowl!  Eagles are also ABUNDANT as the river begins to freeze up before our eyes. My hope is that it will all open up again once the polar vortex is well out of the way, but meanwhile waterfowl and Eagles are abundant in the open water.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, after my river weeks on the American Queen, it is the adult American Bald Eagles that seem most abundant to me. Not nearly the number of juveniles that I’ve seen in late fall in past seasons. http://www.greatriver.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/watermarked-eagles-300×86.jpgWould love to hear some comments!

 

 

Spring Fun!

I very much enjoyed a spring hike at Goose Island where we found KC Kaudry and his niece playing his hand-crafted Didgeridoo! It was fun to return home and find his FACEBOOK site… https://www.facebook.com/midwestdidgeridoos?ref=stream

You’ll enjoy looking at his broad variety of creations made from local forest woods. Who knew you could make a didgeridoo from a white oak? Or a red cedar?

Thanks for a great impromptu concert, KC!!

KC with Didgeriedoo at Goose Island

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

 

 

The Story of Albert D.J. Cashier

Albert DJ Cashier

Albert DJ Cashier

One of the more unusual stories from the Siege of Vicksburg came from the 95th Illinois Regiment. This regiment had a reputation as a particularly fierce group of fighters. Only 58% of the regiment had survived the previous Battle of Shiloh. Among those at Vicksburg was one they called “the fiercest of the fierce” — Albert D.J. Cashier.

When injured in a car accident in 1913, Albert (on right in photograph) refused medical help unless the doctor refused to reveal his secret… that Albert was a woman. Inevitably, the secret leaked out and a movement began to have Cashier’s name stricken from the Vicksburg monument. But in 1915, representatives of the regiment met in Chicago and signed a communication to the Illinois governor requesting that if any name was stricken from the regimental listing, then EVERY name must be stricken. Albert’s name is still listed to this day.

One knowledgeable researcher suspects that “Albert” was once engaged to a man named Albert in Ireland. When he was killed in an uprising, she committed herself to carrying on his life by following through on his dream to come to the United States. She dressed as a man, stowed away on a ship, and enrolled in the war using Albert’s name. At least 600 women are documented to have fought as men in the Civil WGRFF IV cover 033005ar.

Insight excerpt from the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 78, Vol 4 of DISCOVER! America’s Great River Road by Pat Middleton. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

Links for Following the “Healing the Water” Walk

Track exactly where the group is today…

LIVE GPS tracking: (copy & Paste into browser)http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0mPHV4igHadEVfpSyKWhmaoe1egzqco2g

Schedule for the Walk (save this as a possible route for walking the entire length of the Mississippi River. This schedule presumes walking 25-30 miles per day.

https://word.office.live.com/wv/WordView.aspx?FBsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdownload%2Ffile_preview.php%3Fid%3D551090901588065%26time%3D1363819016%26metadata&access_token=1381570422%3AAVLBnSAg3R0QABSDzNAoBkEMMGiYBGyCeSFq1LXn4bIgtw&title=Mississippi+River+Water+Walk+Updated+3.12.doc

The group also has a FACEBOOK page.

Tundra Swans Make Spring 2013 Debut, Brownsville, MN

I spent some time searching out information on the Ojibwa “Healing the River” walk yesterday. Thought it might interest others, so I’ve included my links in the next entry. Contemplating their walk prompted me to have a look at the charts and plan my own walk along the river. I chose to walk a mile above and below the Brownsville, Minnesota, birding overlook… and was rewarded by seeing several large flights of TUNDRA SWANS land directly opposite the overlook!!

They are not just at the overlook, however, but there seems to be a cluster just beyond several small islands just north of the overlook. They were not in the water, but standing or sleeping in the snow beside any open water…so look carefully!

Also abundant eagles, diving ducks, a pileated woodpecker! Walking along sparkling, open water when it is still cold and snowy is the next best thing to spring!!

Eagles, Eagles

Eagles on ice

With the river well frozen in most spots, January becomes and ideal time for American Bald Eagle watching on the Upper Mississippi River. Best spots for viewing are generally at the open water just below each of the Dams between Lake Pepin and St. Louis. But eagles will be found in trees, certain farm fields, and clustered–often in dozens or even hundreds–at any bit of ice where there is open water.

This week end, 1-25-2013, in Clarksville Missouri is Eagle Days an educational program hosted by the Missouri Department of Conservation. On Tuesday I counted 59 eagles from the Visitor Center in Clarksville. Clarksville was the first hosting site for the Eagle Days program starting back in ;the early 80′s when there were no nesting pairs in the state. Now there are between 100 to 200 nest in the state of Missouri. I hope everyone gets a chance to come see the eagles.

UPCOMING 2013 FESTIVALS:   Prairie du Chien, WI,  February 23.

Find more about EAGLES on the MISSISSIPPI by Search our Birding Categories, to the right, or by searching greatriver.com.

 

Fascinating Cargo–What is it??

Fascinating CargoMy American Queen friends from the early November Upper Mississippi River cruise will recognize this heavy piece of tubular, yellow striped cargo. We first saw it on a single barge being pushed down the Mississippi River south of La Crosse, WI.

Had no idea then what it was… still have no idea, but I recently saw it again!! …being towed by a tug down the East Coast of Florida off St. Lucie County. Would love to hear from someone what it is. It is exceptionally unusual to have seen it on the Upper Mississippi, and amazing to me that I have now seen it a second time. Anyone have any idea at all??