Sandhill Cranes Across the State!

I have been checking the Wisconsin Bird Network frequently and seeing reports of Sandhill Cranes (and Trumpeter Swans) across the State since early February… in fact even in January! They may even have over-wintered in some few locations to south, as I heard a bit about last year!

Pool 8 of the Mississippi River
Beautiful POOL 8 Map Design by Lisa Middleton!
Click here to view map DETAILS.

“Your work is beautiful.  We ordered Pool 8.  It will look perfect above our mantel. As a plus – our home is near the center of the image. Could not have commissioned a better map!”
~Mark D., Pool 8

What I keep track of here however, is when we first see/hear Sandhill Cranes in our Pool 8 valley… and yesterday, March 8, was the first “hearing” of the year for us. It was very distant, however, and we haven’t “seen” them yet.

All other spring birds are being reported, and where there is still ice on the river, bald eagles are clustering. Nest sites are busy! No word of pelicans yet, but they follow very closely on the breakup of the ice! Happy Early Spring Birding!

Swans Arrive in Sauk County!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

It’s fun to know that others are celebrating our annual “Heralds of Spring” in the same way we do along the Upper Mississippi! This was posted to the WisBirdNetwork… A good two weeks ago I was hearing local reports that there were numbers of swans in open waters on the Mississippi as well. Some may have been TRUMPETERS as Wisconsin had many Trumpeter Swans overwinter. See post below about Trumpeters and lead pellets in the Twin Cities. Now back to our little swan celebration!!!

“At approximately 4:20 pm, two Swans landed at Bakkens Pond. My thought was 
that perhaps those two wintered in Wisconsin. Within 15 minutes, a 
wedge of 11 Swans was observed. Near sunset, there was another wedge with 
about 20 swans, but the angle of the sun prevented an exact count.Enjoy the coming of Spring!”
~~Sharon
Richland Center–Richland County–

Driftless Region Mysteries

The unglaciated region of western Wisconsin, northeastern Iowa, northwestern Illinois, and southeastern Minnesota is a natural and beautifully sculpted landscape that is known as the Driftless Area. The area is considered “Driftless” because it was not shaped by the movement of glaciers thousands of years ago. A part of the attraction to the region is the forested hillsides that extend into deeply carved river valleys that cut into limestone bedrocks. A key feature that makes the Driftless Area a unique place is the Baraboo Range, comprising of a collection of monadnocks- huge masses of rock rising up out of the middle of a plateau. The Driftless Area is a strange combination of plateau, deep river gorges, sinkholes, bluffs, and monadnocks.

DRIFTLESS AREAThe Driftless Area covers about 20,000 square miles, which primarily extends into western Wisconsin-roughly 85 percent. The landscape has plenty of caves, notably Viroqua City Cave and Cave of the Mounds, and the most rugged part of Driftless Wisconsin is the Ocooch Mountains. In southeastern Minnesota the Driftless Area begins at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. This region is defined by vegetation of mixed woodland, goat prairies, and old plateau covered by loess. The Minnesota River cuts across the Driftless Area. In Driftless Iowa the landscape is of forested valleys, streams, rivers, and majestic limestone bluffs. In Illinois, rolling hills and wooded ridges, and features such canyons, ravines, bluffs, and palisades makes up its portion of the Driftless region

Order Your Own Copy of our DRIFTLESS  map Here

The Driftless Area’s forests, prairies, wetlands, and grasslands provides ideal habitat for wildflowers and wildlife. Farming continues to be an activity that thrives in the Driftless Area. Unique soil conditions and higher elevations are ideal for growing particular crops. Amish farmers have long situated themselves in the region, but a new breed of organic farmers has emerged in Driftless. Wisconsin in particular, has expanded into a hotbed of organic farming. The Driftless Region is also ripe for fishing for a variety of trout including brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout. Whitetail deer and wild turkey, ring-necked pheasant, along with other games such as ducks and geese, grouse, quail, mourning dove, rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, fox, and coyote can all be hunted in specific portions of the Driftless Area.

Lisa Middleton’s provides a detailed mapping of the region, and depicts particular features that partly shape the region. The Driftless Region is simply a beautiful and diverse landscape that is like no

Order Your Own Copy Here

You will also love our antiquarian map collection! Click Here

 

Bird migration events set for Nov 10 feature Ferryville, Lansing, and Brownsville

FERRYVILLE — The Ferryville Tourism Council will host its annual Fall Migration Day from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, in River View Park on Highway 35.

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Additional birding events will be held beginning at 8 a.m. at the Driftless Center in Lansing, Iowa, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the birding observation area at Brownsville, Minn., Hwy. 26, all on Nov. 10.

 If you haven’t had the opportunity to explore the excellent DRIFTLESS CENTER in Lansing, Iowa, do take advantage of this opportunity. Enjoy the huge deck/porch that offers a wide view north toward the historic Lansing Bridge. There have been eagles in the vicinity each time I’ve visited.
Additionally, the displays capture our river heritage as well as any museum north of Dubuque.  Live snakes, including a timber rattler, our clamming heritage, driftless geography, commercial fishing and more. Great for kids AND adults.

Save 40% until APRIL 26! Great Gifts for Mom, Dad, Siblings, Friends!

Save 40% UNTIL APRIL 26 on any of TWO of our $19.95 books at GREAT RIVER ARTS! Order on line and use the Discount Code FOLKS at checkout. (No other discounts apply) Order to 888-255-7726. Or Phone your Order to 888-255-7726.Steam Railroad 2 book gift set by Michael Gillespie

 “Mike’s Railroading books are for people who love to immerse themselves in the days of Steam. They are colorfully written, well-edited and take one through a gamut of emotions. You will read them more than once!”   ~ Purchaser comment

 

This is a great opportunity also to Purchase all FOUR of our DISCOVER! AMERICA’s Great River Road series and SAVE 40% over the regular individual pricing! 1000+ pages of fascinating information about the Heritage and Natural History of the Mississippi River. A first class collection for Traveler and resident alike by River Author, Pat Middleton. Order on line at Great River Arts and use the discount code FOLKS or phone 888-255-7726 to order by April 26!  We have never made an offer like this!  Save more than $30! 

Limited time offer: One Man's Treasure- Featuring Discover! America's Great River Road $1 Ebook Sampler! 


 

 Lisa New Logo

Larger format FINE ART Prints (18×20 and larger) of ALL Lisa Middleton Maps are available for 40% off at greatriverarts.com when you use the code FOLKS, at checkout. PicMonkey Collage murals

This is an amazing opportunity for those who prefer a larger format of any map from Great River Arts. Only until April 26!! Check this out today! Or call 888-255-7726 to ask about having a CUSTOM MAP designed!


SPECIAL MAP OFFER for our river buffs:  Purchase 2 of our newest custom designed maps and save 40%.  Get BOTH MAPS for just $35.  This is a special $62.50 value from Great River Publishing! Available by phone only.   888-255-7726DRIFTLESS AREA

215 The Ice Age Trail Map, Wisconsin Designed by Lisa Middleton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The  DRIFTLESS Region map (above) captures portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois anchored by the Mississippi River.

Its corollary is the ICE AGE TRAIL that follows the moraines of the last Ice Age from Door Count, Wisconsin, to the St. Croix River and Minnesota border.

Perfect for Dad, a brother or other MAP buff in your family! Or keep one for yourself! Each map includes extensive historical and geologic notes.


 

How Fun is This? Cruising on the River Steamer, African Queen

African Queen Key Largo

How fun is this? The actual little river steamer from the movie, AFRICAN QUEEN, with Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart is docked in Key Largo, Florida at Mile Marker #100.



I was able to take the helm and pilot it during most of our cruise, and the gentle put-put of the engine and its “naked” operation was a huge delight. The boat itself celebrated its 100th year in 2012. It has been fitted with an 1880s steam engine and is available for short sightseeing and Dinner cruises through the canals of Key Largo and out into the Key Largo Sound.  It only carries a maximum of 10 people, there were 4 of us on our little excursion!

The iconic vessel was made famous in the 1951 movie of the same name and she still remains a timeless classic. This famous steamboat is available for daily canal cruises and dinner cruises in the Port Largo Canal area and also for private events. 54BE53F1-6C83-4CF9-8163-95498905E7DA   Engine and today’s diesel boiler.

A LITTLE HISTORY: The African Queen was built in Lytham, England in 1912 for service in Africa for the East Africa British Railways company. She was used to shuttle cargo, missionaries and hunting parties across the Victoria Nile and Lake Albert which was located on the border between the Belgian Congo and Uganda.

In 1951 she starred in the famous movie directed by John Huston. Afterwards she remained in service in Africa until 1968 when she was brought to the United States working in San Francisco, Oregon and Florida. She has been the pride and joy of  Key Largo since 1982, where she is registered as a National Historic site and in 2012 celebrated her centennial year.  Below is a video of the steam engine. It should be horizontal, not vertical!

It has been fitted with an 1880s steam engine and is available for short cruises through the canals of Key Largo and out into the Key Largo Sound.  Below left shows the steam engine and boiler (diesel). I also tried to insert a video of the engine operating.

 

CONTACT:  PHONE: 305.451.8080  Website: africanqueenflkeys.com  There is a lot of interesting info on the boat, the movie, and the history of its service in Africa!

 keywest

If the Florida Keys is one of your favorite places, check out our hand-painted historic and custom designed maps of Florida available for purchase or viewing by clicking HERE on our FLORIDA FINE ART MAP site!

Everyglades LR

Everyglades LR

Find the Everglades, all five coasts of Florida, and beautifully painted historic hand-painted historic and custom designed maps of Florida by clicking HERE on our FLORIDA FINE ART MAP site! 

Use the SEARCH BOX at Great River Arts to search ALL our extensive collection of Fine Art Maps from across the country and the world!! 

Exploring Lake Superior’s North Shore!

Enjoy exploring Lake Superior’s north shore through the eyes of our map artist and the early explorers! Thank you, Courtney for writing us! See maps at www.greatriverarts.com   Entire map title or region in a Search Box.

5 out of 5 stars
“I’m absolutely in love with these maps! My fiance and I purchased these to go along with pictures we took while visiting the boundary waters and these maps are the icing to the cake!”   Courtney

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Boundary Waters, custom artisan design by Lisa Middleton

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Custom map by Lisa Middleton  A fun combination of past and present!

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Carver’s historic map of his travels includes so many historic notes… and the Grand Portage is carefully noted by extra large dots!

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The Gunflint Trail includes lots of local landmarks which will have you remincing about when you went where and with who!

Lisa’s maps are available all along the Gunflint Trail and at many better gift shops along Hwy 61… or visit www.greatriverarts.com and search for Lake Superior maps!  Have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tundras Arriving; but Later and in Lower Numbers

Thank you to my favorite photographer for his first Tundra Swan alert:  

“After a long and arduous wait the Tundra Swans have finally arrived in number on Pool 8 of the Mississippi River. (Usually I am busy photographing along the MS during the whole month of November, but not this year.)

Click this blue link to Read Alan’s Swan report for 2016.

Enter Swans in the Search Box at the upper right to pull up historical arrival dates back to 2008!  Interested in Eagles? Enter Eagles in Search Box… or anything else you are curious about!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Rail Trespass Law Hearing, Stoddard, WI. Continued.

Marc Schulz of the La Crosse County Conservation Alliance said of the trespass issue, “There is no bigger issue regarding the river.”  He added that greatests percentage of fatalities on the railroad happen at designated crossings.  Schulz said that, “Young professionals come to western Wisconsin because of its natural resources.”  He added that, “This is the people’s land and water.”

John Wetzel representing the Wildlife Federation said, “We need more state oversight.  Minnesota has done that.  He added that this isn’t just a Mississippi River corridor problem saying there are, “. . .hundreds of places in the state where this is a problem.”

Pat McCabe of De Soto said, “I have property on the other side of the tracks.  I will not stop crossing.”  He added, “I beg you make them (trains) slow down.  Who are you going to call? (if there is an accident.)”

Guy Wolfe of Stoddard representing CARS-Citizens Acting for Rail Safety said, “There is a public trust doctrine law.  We have a right to these waters.”  He added that he has seen derailed cars on both sides of the tracks on “our property.”  He urged people to photograph and report issues with the tracks and rail bridges.  He said he feels that after reports about decaying rail bridges the railroad started enforcement of the trespass law.  He said after letting the permit to repair the Coon Creek bridge at Stoddard expire, the railroad suddenly worked “24-7” to repair it.  Wolf added that at least one bridge still in use along the river was built in 1867.  He said, “We can’t afford to let (rail) bridges fail.”

Commissioner Wadhwa replied that, “The new fast act law requires that we put bridge inspection results on websites.”

Kirk Holliday of De Soto said that, “BNSF is making threats to the village sewer.” De Soto’s wastewater treatment plant is across the tracks on the river side.  He added, “The government bails them (the railroads) out.  They get billions to fix their problems and then they basically hold us hostage.”

Gary Moltert of De Soto told about railroad rolling stock that hauls Bakkum crude and ethanol.  He said, “Double hulled tankers are safer.  Canada is being very proactive enforcing this.  Here investors have $80 to $90K in old tankers and the government allows them six years to replace them with safer cars.”

Commissioner Wadhwa replied, “We can’t do anything, but the feds and USDOT can.” He added that, “New tank cars constructed after 2015 and existing cars must be retrofitted and have an advanced brake system installed.”

Sherry Quamme, representing the Mississippi River Parkway Commission said that, “We’re concerned with Wisconsin issues for eight counties of the Great River Road . . . we want to see that there is legal pedestrian access . . . additional crossings are not the answer because it requires a large capital investment.”

Mike Collins of the La Crosse Snowmobile Alliance said, “We purchased a building across the tracks.  We asked the railroad for a recreational crossing.  We asked them for $6,000.”  The railroad denied the request.  Collins added, “They said it’s a safety issue.  It’s not.  It is straight and level for miles.”

Frank LeMay commented that, “Point of access changes won’t work because the river changes from day to day.”

Joan Wolfe of Stoddard asked about changing Act 179, “What’s the downside?  Why wouldn’t the governor want to sign it?”

Senator Schilling said that, Assembly leader Van Wanggaard didn’t bring up the trespass law change proposed by 96th Assembly District representative Lee Nerison in the Assembly because,  “Governor Walker would likely veto it and the Republicans in the legislature don’t want to be put in the position of overriding the governor’s veto.”

Phillip Hooker of Victory said that the railroad speed limit is too high.  “It should be 45 mph max,” he said.

Monique Hooker of Victory expressed her concern about being able to do river cleanups, “The Friends of Pool 9 need to clean along the Mississippi and on the Wisconsin side.  Students and volunteers need access to clean up the river banks.  We have to look at the environmental issue and put your money where your mouth is.”

Ralph Knutson of De Soto said, “We need more rail inspections.  There is no state accountability – no rail inspectors.”  He added that, “The railroad is also interested in having only one person on a train to operate it to save money.”

Commissioner Wadhwa said that, “The federal safety board is taking comments on fewer crew.”

Senator Shilling added, “There is a bill in progress to improve emergency preparedness along the railroad and to train first responders to deal with (railroad) emergencies.”

A larger group attended the 1 PM session at Stoddard.  More than half a dozen people said they had received trespassing warnings from BNSF officers.  The railroad calls it, “ a public safety education campaign.”

Vernon County Sheriff John Spears asked those who received warnings if the officers were polite and courteous.  They all replied, “No.”  Spears who supports a compromise, told the Stoddard crowd that his deputies were not enforcing the law.  “If anybody gets arrested, they’re not spending a night in my jail. That’s for sure,” he said.

Dick Jensen of Stoddard said, “It’s almost like that railroad track now is a fence.”

Richard Meyer of La Crescent, Minn. ““This whole situation has damaged the state’s reputation and the railroad’s,” he said. “People are furious.”

Mike Widner of Boscobel, “The only folks who will likely obey the laws are hunters, fishers and trappers.”

Stoddard Village President Kevin Gobel said, “The enforcement campaign started soon after rail safety groups and the village complained about the condition of BNSF’s bridges.”