Vicious Storms Spawn Tornado in St. Louis

I was amazed to read this a.m. of the tornado which destroyed the St. Louis International Airport as well as nearby neighborhoods late Friday night.

Visit www.weather.com for video and forcasts of continuing severe weather through the Easter weekend.

There is about 200% more moisture involved in this stalled front than is normal, which poses a real threat of continuing heavy rain for the next three days. This increases the threat of flooding on the Mississippi and other rivers through the Ohio River Valley.

I have been on the Mississippi River when rains in Kansas caused the Mississippi to raise 30 feet over night… we woke to a river full of floating logs, full sized trees, and other debris picked up by water raising in the back waters.

“Toots” remembers the Delta Queen

“Toots” Maloy, who for some 30+ years was the “face” of the Delta Queen and Mississippi Queen recently sent me her new memoir of her days on the paddlewheelers.


I found it doubly interesting because it was NOT a history of the company, but truly a memoir of her days on the boats, recounted as she made the last river journey of the Delta Queen to its current Tennessee berth.

Toots also serves as our eyes and ears as she gets a last look at the mold-infested shell of the Mississippi Queen. All of us who loved traveling the Delta Queen fleet, who loved traveling with Riverlorians “Toots”,  Bill Wiemuth, and the rest of the crew, will find this a poignant reminder of how much has been lost with the cruising paddlewheelers.

“We haven’t just lost a vessel,” Toots writes, “we lost a way of life. And with just a stroke of a pen it could have been saved.”

Yes, we have Toot’s book available online at our Mississippi River bookstore. Just $7 plus shipping for a limited time. 54 pages, with 8 pages of photos.

Please click on the link below to order instantly online, or phone 888-255-7726.

A Page Out of History

by Riverlorian, Karen “Toots” Maloy

SECURE online Order Form!

As of 2012, the AMERICAN QUEEN will be BACK on American rivers! Click link to see the update.


Word is Out! Overnight Cruise boats returning to the Mississippi

The Spirit of Glacier Bay will be renamed the Spirit of America and sale the Mississippi River, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes... starting in 2011.Starting to hear that two well-known cruise lines are preparing to offer river boat cruises on the Mississippi River next year!

Cruise West is renaming 100-passenger Spirit of Glacier Bay to Spirit of America and starting Mississippi cruises in 2011.

Most Mississippi cruises will go from New Orleans to Memphis or from Memphis to Nashville, with the first cruise being New Orleans to Memphis March 19, 2011. Other introductory cruises are in April and May.

Published fares: $3,499, $3,799, $4,299, and $5,099 per person double occupancy. Discounts may be as high as $600/person.

Cruise West suggests that the Spirit of America may also be found on the East Coast, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Great Lakes. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

Could an Earthquake Happen along the Mississippi River? Think New Madrid!

A major fault lies below the Mississippi River from Memphis to St. Louis

Intensity graph for the New Madrid fault

With all the coverage of the 7.0 magnitude quake in Haiti, interest has shifted to the USA. Could it happen here?


Find extensive details about the New Madrid earthquake fault and the formation of REELFOOT Lake in Volume 3 of DISCOVER! America's Great River Road.

Cover of Volume 3, DISCOVER! America's Great River Road

Ironically, the New Madrid Fault is a major active fault line that runs approximately from Memphis, Tennessee, to St. Louis, Missouri. On Dec. 16, 1811, this area was hit with an estimated 8.6 magnitude quake on the modern-day Richter scale. A second quake on January 23, 1812 is estimated to have been an 8.4. A THIRD shock on February 7, 1812, is estimated to have been the strongest jolt ever to hit the North American continent at somewhere near 8.7 to 8.9.

We pulled some illuminating facts from Volume 3 of DISCOVER! America’s Great River Road… What would an 8.7 magnitude earthquake feel like?


It released energy equal to 150,000,000 tons of TNT. In comparison, the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII equaled 35,000 to 40,000 tons of TNT!!

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Barges Working Through Ice near St. Louis, Missouri

Recent winter weather means the Mississippi River is frozen solid as far south as Alton, Illinois. These two barges are helping one another through the ice. You can learn more about how towboat pilots help one another through unexpected ice in Capt. Norman Hillman’s book, ONE MAN and the MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI, available at www.greatriver.com/order.htm .

Crewing a boat on the Mississippi River

Had a request recently from a young adult interested in “hopping” a boat down the Mississippi River. In the fall, owners of many larger yachts are moving boats south to warmer climates. Some few will take the Mississippi River all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Most will detour through the Tom-Bigby Waterway. But sometimes these yachts do need crew for the journey. We’ve added a “CREW” category to our Travel Directory. So if you are interested in crewing or looking for crew, have a look. Good luck!

Capt. Norman Hillman lived as a professional on Americas rivers for over 60 years. In his book he shares his pilot house perspectives on the dangers and suprises of life on the river.

Capt. Norman Hillman lived as a professional on America's rivers for over 60 years. In his book he shares his pilot house perspectives on the dangers and suprises of life on the river.

If you are interested in the world of commercial towboat crew, have a look at ONE MAN AND THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI by Capt. Norman Hillman. He shares 60 years of commercial river experiences. Newly reprinted and available at our online shopping cart. I might also recommend THE RIVER COMPANION which is a primer in brown water navigation. The DISCOVER! AMERICA’s GREAT RIVER ROAD guidebooks will introduce you to life and culture of the Mississippi River.

I also just rediscovered a contribution in our feature story section with specific advice for finding a job on a barge crew. Visit http://http://greatriver.com/features/finding a tow job.htm

Landing a giant catfish, Turtle Man, and SHANTY BOATS!

OK, folks, I have just found the best You Tube pieces on fishing for river cats (including a GIANT) and catching snapping turtles!! Here they are! First watch the TURTLE MAN catching snappers by hand. Play it through and then you have a choice of several more at the bottom. Try the GIANT CATFISH in film #6. Whew! Finally, if you have a little time, join the “Moron Brothers” in the SHANTY BOAT! A little pickin’ and grinnin’ and fishing! Then check out our weekly fishing updates from Pool 8.  Or read a first hand story of a young man’s shanty boat adventure on the Mississippi River in the 1930s.

Spring Flood Reports ’08

While another 6-14 inches of snow that fell in Wisconsin on Good Friday is likely to be short-lived, melting snowpacks in the north and massive rains (up to a foot in many places) in lower Midwestern states has precipitated a flurry of Flood Reports to www.greatriver.com  Here’s what I heard overnight:

Floodwaters at Poplar Bluff, Missouri (Photo by James Ramsey)

The high-water crest is likely to be April 8  in Baton Rouge. Water levels are not expected to breach any levees. 

A flood warning is currently in effect along the Mississippi River for parts of Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky. The Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau is still expected to crest at 44.5 feet Sunday despite levels being lower than expected north of the region. Flood stage is 32 feet. In Cape Girardeau, crews are racing to close the big steel flood gates that safeguard the town from the rising river.

Widespread flooding in Arkansas has washed out some highways and led to evacuations in some areas, said a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. Heavy winter snow combined with recent rain indicates parts of Wisconsin and Illinois should see minor to moderate flooding, with as much as a 20 to 30 percent chance of major flooding on some rivers in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Some residents of southern Illinois had to evacuate. In Marion, Illinois, firefighters used their own fishing boats to rescue residents. At Paducah, Ky., the flooding on the Ohio River is expected to peak at 47.0 feet by Wednesday morning. The river’s flood stage is 39.0 feet. From historical floods, officials know that property damage begins along the river’s banks when the water rises to 47.0 feet.

A record flood is forecast for the Meramec River near Eureka, Mo., which is located south of St. Louis. By Saturday afternoon, the river is expected to slightly rise past the current record flood level of 42.9 feet from Dec. 6, 1982.

While the recent heavy rain bypassed the lower Mississippi River, residents along its banks are being warned that prolonged flooding will ensue. As water from its tributaries continues to flow downstream, the river will continue to rise.

The Mississippi River at Natchez, Miss., is forecast to exceed its flood stage of 48.0 feet by Tuesday. The river is expected to rise at least 5 more feet by Sunday, April 6. The National Weather Service is reminding people to be aware and be prepared for flooding in their communities. There is no expectation that current flooding will be more than a passing crest… unlike 1993 when the high water settled in and the entire river was closed for two months.

As for travel in these states, I know from our flood experience in Wisconsin that nothing devastates tourism like these flood reports. Yet pictures like the one above are generally tiny pockets in the overall travel picture. Call ahead to double-check. Be aware of your surroundings. NEVER drive onto water covered roadways. But chances are there is no reason at all to cancel travel plans unless you planned to be right in the path of a flood-cresting river.