Fall Color Peaks

Backwater and bluff, fall cover idea Pat's best on Walts bestPerfectly 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!

Fall Color HOTLINES along the Mississippi River

Fall Foliage Hot Lines from greatriver.com

It’s fall and few locations in the country offer the same natural beauty as the easel-like bluffs of the Mississippi River Valley. We’ll keep you posted on color hot-spots as the season progresses, but you will also find the following sites and hotlines of interest. Peak color periods for each state are noted in paragraphs.

Arkansas. 800-628-8725; www.1800natural.com (late October to early November)

  800-226-6632; www.enjoyillinois.com (early October)

Kentucky. 800-225-8747;  (late October)

Minnesota. 800-657-3700; www.exploreminnesota.com (late September to mid-October)

Missouri. 800-778-1234; www.missouritourism.org (mid-to-late October)

Tennessee. 800-697-4200; www.state.tn.us/tourdev/ (early November)

Wisconsin. 800-432-8747; www.travelwisconsin.com (early through mid-October)

And don’t leave home without the indispensable guides to Mississippi River and Great River Road travel!

Every volume of DISCOVER! America’s Great River Road is filled with a variety of fascinating Mississippi River fact and lore.  Photos, maps, charts!  All Volumes contain info on birding, wildlife viewing hotspots. Each highlights Geography, interpretive history and natural history attractions along the Great River Road.  SAVE $10!!!   Purchase ALL FOUR VOLUMES of Discover! America’s Great River Road… St. Paul, Minnesota, to Venice, Louisiana, individually signed by the author.   Four guides for $62.





Now Available! Quality 5×7 photo note cards featuring fall  color on the Mississippi River. Visit our online bookstore to see more options!

Return to www.Greatriver.com and the Mississippi River Home Pag!





Discover the Historic Mississippi River Ribbon Map

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.

Please click here to visit our online Shopping Cart, or Phone 888-255-7726 to Order.
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Tell Your NW Neighbors, Tell Your Friends

If you have friends in the Northwest, this is a good time to let them know about Lisa Middleton’s historic map paintings. Lisa is beginning her national show schedule in Montana/Washington/Colorado. Her Updated show schedule can always be seen at www.greatriverarts.com

See and purchase more than 100 of Lisa Middleton’s hand-painted historic maps online at www.etsy.com/shop/greatriverpublishing!

April 18, Free Trip into Louisiana’s Bayou Teche NWR

Contact: Donovan Garcia (337) 923-9718

Experience all the flora and fauna of the Cajun Coast first hand!

FRANKLIN, LA – Free guided tours aboard motorized boats into the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge are being held April 18, 2015 for the Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival.

Tours will be guided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Friends of Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge.

Advanced reservations the day of the event are required. Registration will be at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tent set up in Historic Downtown Franklin. Please register early at the tent as trips fill quickly.

Groups will be limited in size for optimal viewing experience. Tour times are 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Trips may be cancelled due to weather.

Historic River Maps Make Great Gifts!

Lisa's maps at village frameI walked into Village Custom Frame in La Crosse, WI, the other day and found Sue busy at work filling orders for Lisa Middleton’s historic map prints ordered for Christmas giving. The framed maps 1887 Ribbon Maps are a GREAT idea for a corner nitch, or between two windows, or as a cabin feature!


If you don’t live in La Crosse, Stockholm, Alma, Winona, or Wabasha … where many of the frame shops sell Lisa’s maps already framed… you can now order FRAMED 1887 Mississippi River Ribbon maps at the Great River Publishing gift shop on ETSY.com

frame samples

$145 includes choice of mat color (choose from those samples show) with a dark wooden frame.Maps can be shipped directly to the recipient!

Questions? Ready to order? Have another of Lisa’s historic map paintings you’d like framed and shipped? Want to frame the original painting?  Call 406-471-7563 or go to ETSY.com to order online.

Our Historic Map Artist Makes the Glossies!

Our Mississippi River map artist, Lisa R Middleton, was featured in the FALL 2014 issue of the Montana Quarterly  

We’ve been lucky to have her on the river for the past 7-8 years, but she is expanding her territory westward. It was great having her on the Upper River for ART FAIR ON THE GREEN this summer. Thank you to everyone who expressed such enthusiasm for her Hisoric Map paintings and WELCOME to all our new owners!

Anyone who might like to see the 5-page spread should contact Montana Quarterly 

Visit Lisa’s online blog, ART AT HEART, at www.greatriverarts.com !  Yes, she does accept special requests for original paintings!

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.


The group also has a FACEBOOK page.

Could an Earthquake Happen in the Midwestern United States?

A major fault lies below the Mississippi River from Memphis to St. LouisWith all the media coverage of the 7.0 magnitude quake in Haiti
in January 2010, interest has shifted to the USA.

We all think of California immediately, but could it happen
here in the MIDWEST? Think NEW MADRID FAULT,
right under the Mississippi River!

Scientists suggest there is a 25% chance of a 7.5 magnitude quake by the year 2040. A quake of this magnitude would be felt throughout half of the United States and cause damage in twenty states or more.

by Pat Middleton, Volume 3, DISCOVER! AMERICA’s GREAT RIVER ROAD

Intensity map for the New Madrid Fault


    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. This was the first of THREE major quakes to rock the Midwest. 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.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.

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

The New Madrid earthquake 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!!

When the tremors and convulsions of the earth subsided, 30 to 50 thousand square miles of land had undergone vast topographical changes. Most of which are visible today. In the northwest corner of Tennessee, land dropped 10 to 20 feet and caused the Mississippi River to flow back upon itself which formed REELFOOT LAKE. In places along the Mississippi River, I have seen sandboils which still lie barren, or waves of undulating earth frozen into the compacted soil.

The New Madrid fault system extends 120 miles southward from Cairo, Illinois, through New Madrid andCaruthersville, Missouri, following I-55 free way system to Bytheville and on down to Marked Tree, Arkansas. Buried five to to ten miles underground (similar in depth to the Haiti quake), it crosses five state lines and cuts across the Mississippi River in three places.

Map showing earthquakes


    THE USGS maintains a real time list of tremors along the New Madrid fault. Click map image  to see the map for today.


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Stories from SURVIVORS of the New Madrid Earthquake of

related in part from “Reelfoot Lake and the New Madrid Fault” by Juanita Clifton, 1980

Witnesses report that about 2 a.m. on December 16, 18aa, the earth around the little settlement of New Madrid, Missouri, began to rise and fall like waves upon the sea. When the peaks of the waves rolled through the Mississippi River, the river bottom heaved up, emptying the river onto its banks, inundating the shores and leaving some boats on dry land. When the troughs followed, the river rushed back into the hollows with such force that entire groves of trees were drawn out by the roots and thrown into the river.

On dry land, trees bent like heads of grain in the wind, their ranches interlocked, until they were ripped from the ground. Cracks formed in the earth that sometimes ran for MILES. The quake’s ground wave created sunken lands, fissures, and domes. Sand blows eruped sand and belched hot water, fumes, and carbonized wood.

Mattis M. Speed, a river traveler in February, 1812, described his experience.  “We were awakened about 3 a.m. by the violent agitation of the boat accompanied by a noise so terrible it can best be described as the constant discharge of heavy cannon. The banks were falling into the river and the island to which we were tied was sinking. We cut ourselves loose from the island and pulled as far from the banks as necessary to avoid the falling trees. The swells of the river were so deep as to threaten the sinking of the boat with every minute.”

When he pulled out of the maelstrom at New Madrid, he wrote, “The former elevation of the bank was about 25 feet above common water. When we reached it, it was barely 12 or 3 feet. Scarcely a house was left entire, some completely prostrated, others unroofed and not a chimney standing.”

One man described holding to a tree to support himself during a quake. A fissure opened in the ground and both he and the tree fell in. He was unable to climb out of the fissure at that point and was forced to walk along it until an incline allowed him to scramble out. Fissures as deep as 100 feet ran for miles through the countryside.


New Madrid Earthquake Creates Reelfoot Lake

Both Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee,  and St. Francis Lake in Arkansas were formed by the New Madrid Earthquake in 1811, 1812. A citizen from New Madrid, Missouri, wrote in 1816, “Lately, it has been discovered that a Lake was formed on the opposite side of the Mississippi River, in the Indian country, upwards of 100 miles and from one to six miles wide, of a depth of from 10 to 50 feet.”

The epicenter of the quake was about 70 miles southwest of modern Reelfoot Lake and more than 1800 recorded tremors, some of which rang bells on the east coast, followed by the first powerful jolts.

In 1815, Congress passed an act to relieve area inhabitants who found their riverside farms swallowed up or buried in the sand that spewed from the earth. More than 500 earthquake “certificates”, redeemable for up to 640 acres of government land, were allotted. The site of Hannibal, Missouri, was one of the resultant land grants.


A dome-like rise in the otherwise perfectly flat land is clearly visible on the west side of Reelfoot Lake, on the road from the Airpark Inn to Tiptonville, Tennessee.  The Tiptonville Dome formed when the land around Reelfoot Lake sank during the earthquake. Above the newly formed depression, the Mississippi River appeared to flow backward when the waters rushed to fill the depression–the center of which is now Reelfoot Lake.

The raising of the dome also created a natural dam that, for a short time, forced the Mississippi River to flow back south upon itself. The same dam trapped water in low swampland in the vicinity of Reelfoot Creek and Bayou de Chien, eventually allowing Reelfoot Lake to form.

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