OK, as happens almost every year, folks are starting to call about flood conditions along the Upper Mississippi River. Especially with 4th of July holiday around the bend! The image here shows Riverside Park in La Crosse, WI. Basically, the river is plum full and about to start climbing onto the sidewalk. (Thank you Laura Smanski!)
I heard from Davenport, IA, that, yes the riverside has water creeping in, but scheduled events have simply been moved to Higher Ground. Since many campsites along the upper Mississippi River can be impacted by high water, you might want to make a phone call. If sites are available, your reserved site might be moved slightly to higher ground.
Boating of any type is more hazardous in high water. There is lots of debris, including whole trees, flowing by at a mighty quick pace. Canoes and kayaks are not recommended until the river is back to a 6′ stage, rather than the 13+- it is right now. Common Sense is King in high water. Highways, river towns, the Great River Road…not so much to worry about.
Dan Jackson, President of the La Crosse Audubon Club has sent us a detailed report on his observations over the past weekend. This IS THE TIME to get out on the river!! Thanks so much, Dan!
A few observations:
This morning, Monday, 11/11, Ruth and I were able to get a fairly good ground count on the number of swans using the Wisconsin Islands Closed Area. The number was 22,000+ with main concentration areas in Raft Channel West, below Horseshoe and Boomerang Islands, and on the sand flats below/between seed islands along Raft Channel. Yesterday, in the Shady Maple portion of the Goose Island No Hunting Zone, I counted about 2,000 tundra swans with what appeared to be new arrivals late in the day, 500-600 Canada geese, 300-400 pelicans, and 10,0000+ ducks (gadwall, pintails, wigeon, and mallards). The Beiers Lake portion of the no hunting zone was also loaded with birds, but there is limited visibility from the overlook, hence an incomplete count.
People are learning about the large concentrations of birds visible from the overlooks and the fact we are staffing the overlooks on weekends, and responding accordingly. To that end, we had nearly 1,200 visitors this past weekend at the overlooks.
Visitors are asking how long the swans will be here. For those asking the question and mean how long will they be on the Refuge, the answer is there will be swans here until the river freezes. For those who mean how long will they be here in the numbers seen this past weekend and near the overlooks, that is a bit more complicated. A few swans may leave with this brief cold snap, but be replaced by others moving in from other staging areas on the river or elsewhere.
We are going to begin seeing swans move around the closed areas in response to the need for thermal cover, i.e., this morning’s conditions, and as their food resources are depleted, i.e., the large bed of arrowhead plants in front of the Brownsville Overlook.. Some of the latter is already occurring. On Sunday morning, one group of hunters mentioned that the area they hunted in the morning was full of swans. The swans likely fed all night and moved back to the closed area when disturbed by the hunters. This is a common occurrence, but seems to be early this year.
Tubers the swans are eating.
Further, this morning, we saw groups of swans, and ducks, tucked into more “out of the way” areas where small patches of arrowhead are present. On calm days, the swans will likely move to open water water areas away from the islands in search of winter buds of wild celery. It also amazing to watch swans feed in the middle of the large wild rice beds.
With the forecast for warming beginning about mid-week and continuing through next weekend, we should have excellent conditions for viewing next weekend. Another large turnout of visitors is likely.
There are a number of bus tours, or other groups, scheduled to be at the overlooks this week.
Long-time river observers are saying they have never seen, or it has been a long time, since they have seen the number of waterfowl now present in lower Pool 8!
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.
The largest steamboat in the world was recently purchased by The Great American Steamboat Company based in Memphis, Tenn., and it will return to America’s rivers next year.
The steamboat, which is 419 feet long and 90 feet high, holds 436 passengers was purchased for $15.5 million. It was launched in 1995 at a cost of over $65 million, but has been laid up in Beaumont, Texas since 2008, after the Majestic America Line decided to discontinue its cruise business.
“Our plans with it are to restore the service and return it back to its historical roots,” Greg Brown, executive vice-president of the Great American Steamboat Company, said.
“For two years we’ve been working on purchasing the American Queen, so this is the product of a couple years worth of work.” Brown said the American Queen will travel the “greatest hits routes” it used to travel, as well as some of the popular routes once traveled by the Mississippi and Delta Queens. He said itinerary for the American Queen will depend on the season, and it will travel the Mississippi River and many of its surrounding tributaries.
“We have it in the plans to get on the Ohio River for the Kentucky Derby season,” Brown said. “I think we’re a couple weeks away from having a firm schedule and brochure.”
Getting the American Queen up and running is expected to create more than 250 jobs, with 160 of those employees working on the steamboat at all times. Before starting out on cruises, Brown said the American Queen will undergo a $5 million renovation project. He said “she’s in very good condition,” but needs a new coat of paint, some machinery work, new dishes and bath towels, among other things.
Hurrah! for the Great American Steamboat Company. Hurrah! for America Rivers. 🙂
“Toots,” the original RIVERLORIAN for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company has written a memoir of the last cruise of the American Queen. Click link to visit.
“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
As of 2012, the AMERICAN QUEEN will be BACK on American rivers! Click link to see the update.
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.
With Fall Color about to burst on the Upper Mississippi, I often get inquiries about how to find an overnight cruise on the river now that the steamboats are not operating. I just received an email about a two-day cruise from The TWILIGHT, a boat built by Dennis Trone and operating out of Le Claire, Iowa. Check out their website at www.riverboattwilight.com
“Please join us for our very affordable, 2 -Day Overnight Mississippi River Cruise! Our 2-Day Cruise is only $329 and includes:
All Meals, Snacks, plus complimentary Coffee, Tea & Lemonade
Overnight Accommodations at the Riverfront Grand Harbor Resort
Admission to the Iowa’s #1 Tourist attraction:
The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
For more information, got to our website at www.riverboattwilight.com. We look forward to seeing you in 2009 and sharing our Mississippi River experience!”
Carrie & Captain Kevin Stier
The smaller boats, like the Twilight, the JBS, or the Spirit of Peoria on the Illinois River, incorporate hotel stays with shore trips and overnight hotel stays. The passenger still enjoys long lazy days on the river. The JBS, unfortunately is not operating this summer.
Delta Queen Steamboat to be Floating Hotel in Chattanooga
Updated: Jan 27, 2009 06:43 PM CST
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – The historic Delta Queen riverboat will call Chattanooga home for a while, as a floating hotel. The leader of a grassroots organization to save the Delta Queen, Vicki Webster, emailed the Channel 3 Eyewitness Newsroom on Tuesday afternoon.
Ambassadors International, Inc. has announced that they have chartered the boat to a company in Chattanooga for use as a hotel.
In a message sent to the boat’s supporters, Webster said, “Our mission is to make sure that indeed, this is a temporary move and the Delta Queen will soon be back in operation, plying the entire Mississippi River system as she has done proudly and safely for 60 years.””
The Delta Queen has been nominated for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2009 list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in America. The final selections will be announced in April.
Webster said, “There is only one remaining example of the hundreds of steamboats that once traversed our heartland, weaving our nation together in the process. There is only one example of the steamboats that inspired the work of creative giants like Mark Twain, Jerome Kern, Louis Armstrong, Edna Ferber, and Walker Evans. To stand idly by and watch the destruction of the Delta Queen would not only be a betrayal of the Trust’s mission. It would also be an act of pure treachery to our culture, to the pioneers who came before us, and to future generations who deserve the chance to travel on this quintessentially American treasure.””
Limestone bluff and backwater at Goose Island provides a natural easel for Fall Color along the Mississippi River, St. Paul, Minnesota, to Dubuque, Iowa. Photo by Richard Middleton, La Crosse. Graphic work by Tall Tree Photo and Graffolio.
Good folks, I’ve been absent for some time as I worked diligently this summer to meet fall deadlines for publication and distribution of our BRAND NEW Volume 1 of DISCOVER! AMERICA’s GREAT RIVER ROAD. It’s DONE, completely reformated, revisited, and expanded… and it’s ready now for purchase in time for the whole Fall Color and Christmas gift season.
I’m very proud to expanded both the Minnesota and Iowa sections and added many little tidbits that I’ve learned to love in the past 20 years… eagle watching, archaeology, and discovering just who else loves this river… and why!