Explore Minnesota Map Art

The Minneapolis Star Tribune featured today the Gunflint Trail above Grand Marais in Minnesota. Makes me think folks might just enjoy exploring our maps of Minnesota painted by Lisa Middleton. An easy place to start is with our Gunflint Trail map!

But we have many more maps of favorite lakes, historic maps, original art! Great to explore on a winter afternoon! Click here:

https://great-river-arts.myshopify.com/searchtype=product&q=Minnesota+great+lakes


Become a Volunteer Iowa Bald Eagle Nest Monitor!

Two Training Opportunities to Become a Volunteer Bald Eagle Nest Monitor

Calling all wildlife watchers! The Iowa DNR will be hosting two live online training workshops for anybody interested in becoming a volunteer bald eagle nest monitor in Iowa. Prospective nest monitors must attend one of the two scheduled workshops. The workshops will be held via Zoom on Saturday February 20th from 10:00 am to noon OR Monday February 22nd from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

Community science volunteers have been helping to monitor Iowa’s eagle population since 2006. Workshop participants will learn about this program and how to get involved and monitor a nest in their area of the state. Iowa has over 400 active bald eagle nests across the state plus many more that have an unknown status. In 2020, volunteer nest monitors collected data on roughly 250 of these nests!

Program coordinator Stephanie Shepherd explains, “With more than 1000 wildlife species in the state, we just don’t have enough staff in the DNR to adequately monitor all the vulnerable species that need attention. This is where community scientists play a crucial role.”

To be a bald eagle nest monitor you will need a pair of binoculars and preferably a spotting scope. Nest monitors are particularly needed in the following counties; Allamakee, Clayton, Delaware, Floyd, Greene, Guthrie, Henry, Jones, Lucas and Winneshiek Counties; but interested people anywhere in the state are welcome. We will try to match you up with a nest near your home base. The time commitment for conducting the survey and submitting data is roughly 6 hours total between March and July each year and will require multiple visits to a nest.

Each workshop will be limited to 20 households and a $5.00 fee is required. Registration will close on February 17th at 5 pm or whenever the 20 household per workshop limit has been reached. Direct questions to Stephanie Shepherd at vwmp@dnr.iowa.gov

Interested volunteers must register for one of two training workshops. Workshops are limited to 20 households each. Registration will close when that number of registrants has been reached or on February 17th, 2021, whichever comes first. 

  • February 20, 2021 – Saturday – 10:00am to 12:00pm. The zoom session will open at 9:50am to allow people to get in and get settled. The workshop will start promptly at 10am.
  • February 22, 2021 – Monday – 6:30pm to 8:30 pm. The zoom session will open at 6:20pm to allow people to get in and get settled. The workshop will start promptly at 6:30pm.

There is a $5 fee to cover workshop materials. For more information and to register, go to www.iowadnr.gov/vwmp or e-mail vwmp@dnr.iowa.gov

Eagle Watching in the Time of Covid

I will begin posting 2021 Bald Eagle Watching events in the Upper Midwest as I learn of them. The events celebrate the opportunity we have had to observe the comeback of American Bald Eagles from the endangered species list. According to the DNR, bald eagle populations in Wisconsin have grown from 108 occupied nests in 1973 to almost 1,700 in 2019.

To read more about the evolution of public Bald Eagle Watches which first began in Keokuk, Iowa, enter the key words “Bald Eagle” in the SEARCH box at the top of this page. Articles include eagle watching advisories, where, when and how to participate, and a general annual schedule of when/where events are held. Our first event:

SAUK PRAIRIE — Sauk Prairie area’s Bald Eagle Watching Days, Wisconsin’s longest-running bald eagle watching event, will be held virtually this year due to COVID-19.

“Our planned virtual programming will feature the release of a rehabilitated bald eagle to the wild, a live raptor show and many more of your favorite events and presentations,” said President of the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council Jeb Barzen. “We’ll provide experts to answer your questions and show eagle watchers how they can safely visit the area and see the birds themselves using our new self-guided tour.”

Programming will be a mix of live streams and pre-recorded videos beginning at 1 p.m. on Jan. 16 and 23 and Feb. 6 and 20. Links and program scheduling can be found here.

If you’d still like to see the eagles in the wild, you can visit the Sauk Prairie area in Jan. and Feb. for a self-guided tour using a mobile device. More information can be found here.

Christmas Holiday in Early Green Bay, Wisconsin

A Recollection of the Christmas Holiday in Frontier Green Bay Army Colonel John Mc Neil. by Albert G. Ellis (possibly early 1820s)

The Colonel, an Eastern Yankee, learned that French people at the Bay celebrated Christmas as a high festival, so he decided to help his men and the citizenry honor the day in these “ends of the earth.”

He sent formal invitations for dinner and a ball to everyone. Food was prepared for 100 guests and on Christmas Day a big hall at the Fort was filled with French, Indians, and Americans sharing holiday greetings.

John McNeil Jr.jpg
Army Colonel John Mc Neil

Clothing ran from the latest Parisian styles to buckskin coats, pants, petticoats, and moccasins.

None of the elite considered himself over-dressed nor none of the citizens reproached himself with the least want of etiquette, or disrespect to their host, on account of costume or manner.

The dinner equaled one expected in a more civilized setting in quantity, if not in kind. Venison, bear meat, porcupine, geese, ducks, and many fish headed by the sturgeon, were offered for the main course. Dinner, dancing, and revelry latest throughout the Christmas night.

(I enjoyed discovering these two brief excerpts from the lives of Wisconsin explorers found in an anthology of essays adapted from WISCONSIN CHRISTMAS, edited by Terry R. Engels. And since porcupines are mentioned twice, I include a picture from this Winter in NW Wisconsin! Thank you, Laurie! ~ Pat)

La Fete de Noel, by Father Paul LeJeunne, 1665

“The Lord gave us for our Christmas supper a porcupine large as a suckling pig, also a rabbit. It was not much for eighteen persons, but the Holy Family were not so well treated on this very day in Bethlehem.”

More (really beautiful) Leucistic Creatures!

Merry Christmas everyone! I enjoy sharing images I run across of some of nature’s more beautiful creatures… the nearly white leucistic (leucitic) creatures that live in our forests and yards. Use the key words “white phase” of leucistic in the search box above to see more images.

The Grizzly Bear below has a story I can share. It was photographed by a family driving near Banff National Park, Alberta on the Trans-Canada Highway. Park staff have been monitoring the white grizzly and its sibling since 2017.

White Grizzly Bear Spotted in Banff, Alberta

The Clarkson family actually spotted two grizzly bears searching for food on the highway. One of them was ordinary while the other one was pure white. Cara claims that they are very “lucky because white grizzly bears are unheard of.” 

A local bear expert and ecologist, Sarah Elmeligi, agrees with Mike’s statement and claims that the result of the bear’s color is recessive genes.

Monitoring the White Grizzly

Banff National Park staff have been monitoring the white grizzly and its sibling since 2017. At the time, the white grizzly left its mother and the staff named it Nakoda. The meaning of its name is ‘ally’ or ‘friend’ in the language of the native people of Stoney Nakoda Nation.

Hit the Road NOW for Fall Color 2020!

Fine Art River
Print. Hand-
painted by
Lisa Middleton.
Available from Greatriverarts.com

Woah, driving the Mississippi River for the past few days, and WOW, has the color popped! It seemed sudden and early to me, based on past years when riding the steamboats and the bluffs would pop as late as October 15! But we found color from Madison to Northern Wisconsin already.

Try this new 2020 Fall Color Prediction Map for the entire US! It says Smoky Mountains, but it is actually the whole country!   

Treasure Hunting is a perfect outdoor activity for cool and colorful days. Our beginner’s guide to Treasure Hunting along the Mississippi River is a favorite among our readers! Available now from AMAZON Books for just $2.99.

Fall Foliage Hot Lines from greatriver.com 
While mid-October seems to be the time when Fall Foliage really POPS along the Upper Mississippi River, we on the Upper River are certainly already seeing brilliant red sumacs. Softwoods are starting to yellow up. You can follow the southward march of Fall Color with the contacts below. Weather is perfect, enjoy the drive!

Arkansas.  https://www.arkansas.com/arkansas-seasons/fall (late October to early November)

Illinois.  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; Fall Folliage Predition Map (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!!!  

Click HERE to Purchase Discover! America’s Great River Road… St. Paul, Minnesota,  Discovr! Guides are available in four volumes from St. Paul to Venice, Louisiana, individually signed by the author.  Available on Amazon as paperback ($22) or KINDLE guide (9.99).  Or phone 888-255-7726 and we will send you your copy TODAY.

To Our Valued Past and Present Wholesale Customers

With the uncertainty of the current moment, Lisa and I just wanted to take a moment to reach out to our past and present customers to let you know that Great River Publishing and Great River Arts are open as always for our precious Wholesale Customers and online purchases.

Our fresh printing of Michael Gillespie’s rail and steamboat era anthologies, Lisa’s newly printed 25′′ 1858 Plantation maps, our timeless favorites, the Father of Waters Ribbon Map and our 4 Volumes of DISCOVER! America’s Great River Road are ready to ship TODAY, Click blue links to see products directly online.

Lisa is prepared for your online wholesale orders at her shopping cart at www.greatriverarts.com Click SHOP to enter the shopping cart and use the code patspecial at checkout and the cart will zero out and we will invoice you manually as we always have, at the same wholesale pricing you expected from Great River Publishing. ( All online purchasers can continue to purchase online with no special code and no minimum purchase! Use keywords in the SEARCH button to find any of Lisa’s beautiful 400 map paintings and destinations.)

Your wholesale telephone order, email order, or other queries are always welcome!! Email: mapart@greatriverarts.com or Lisa at: 406.471.7563

Friends, we more than thank you for your continued support. Many of you have been buying our book, maps, note cards for close to 30 years! It’s hard to express how much I (Pat) have appreciated you through the years. If you have any questions. or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. Although Lisa will be taking over the bulk of our wholesale business, always, feel free to contact me … with questions, concerns, or a bit of tutoring on Lisa’s www.greatriverarts.com


Charting Our Course

A note from map artist, Lisa Middleton
Friends,we are all charting the course day by day in this confusing time. It seems if we miss the news a single day, everything changes the next, and the world is upside down. Kudos to all of you who are staying home to save lives! My sincerest regards to those who are personally affected by COVID-19. Thank you to those in essential industries who keep the world turning at times like this.

Maps represent our human experiences, memories, and a thousand little stories of the ancestors who beat impossible odds to create the historical maps we hold in our hands today. Our current circumstances are no less difficult, and we can chart the course together, day by day.

What makes our Museum Quality Prints Special

Our maps are unique in the industry! You may have loved ones who had to cancel their vacation, or know of a young couple who had to cancel their wedding or honeymoon. Maybe there is a grandparent in your life who has to be alone in quarantine thousands of miles away from you. There is no better way to tell them you care than to send them a map of a memory, a family legacy or even their dream!

“In her hands, a torn black-and-white 1883 plat of Montana Territory blossoms into a vividly colored snapshot of what the land once was. It remains a map by definition, but by execution it is now an ornate showpiece fit for the living room wall, touched by an artist’s hand with its essential purpose still intact.”
Myers Reese, Montana Quarterly Fall, 2014

We invite you to browse our galleries of more than 400 antique, Mississippi River, East Coast, West Coast, and original custom designed map art at Great River Arts…. greatriverarts.com !! Enter a key word in the orange SEARCH BOX at the top of the map page to explore the cartographer, the year, region or title that is meaningful to you. We hope you enjoy this gift of art and history!!

Pelican Watch!

Checked out the river yesterday for American White Pelicans. Some success! As I saw a small group doing their “string of pearls” south of Goose Island along Wis 35. Also a report from southern Wis so they should be here in large numbers soon!

2019 Birding Updates, Many and Sundry!

TUNDRA SWANS are still in Wisconsin! Several reports from the Wisc. Birding Network indicate there are some 500 tundra swans on the ice and
Water at Madison’s University Bay. One of my favorite scenes is of Swans sliding on ice as they land. By contrast, I had my first report of Tundra Swans arriving at Chesapeake Bay on Nov. 19, 2019.

Sandhill Cranes are also extending their stay in various pockets in Wisconsin!  As of Dec 16  sandhill cranes were reported hanging out in the harvested corn fields near the intersection of Hwy 60 and Rainbow Road just NE of Spring Green, WI in Sauk County.Thank you Donald Maum.

Fred Lesher’s journals are available online at UW La Crosse Murphy Library digital Collection.  Paul and Bernadette Hayes and others have been working
to enter Fred’s extensive historical observations onto ebird.
For example, Fred found a Bewick’s Wren in the La Crosse area in April 1969
(see https://ebird.org/checklist/S34769360)
Scans of the original journals can be found at
https://digitalcollections.uwlax.edu/jsp/RcWebBrowse.jsp;jsessionid=DF2C5CF4
F102FD46DECBADEB4336CF54

Barbara Duerksen
Richland County, WI

SNOWY OWL UPDATE: I post new updates every 10-15 days during November and  I post new updates every 10-15 days during November and December. The latest is up on  2019-20 Update tab at: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/SnowyOwls.html
Ryan Brady Conservation Biologist, Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT
Dan Jackson, La Crosse Audubon Group

The La Crosse / La Crescent Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was held on Saturday, December 16th    For those who haven’t participated in the past, for the La Crosse CBC, we count all of the birds that we can find on the count day within a 15 mile circle that is centered on the La Crosse County Courthouse.  I divide the circle in 25-30 sections and individuals or teams are then responsible for covering a pre-assigned section on the count day (this year 12/16/17). Yes, we can use help each year to cover all the sections! Please contact Dan if you would like to be on the list for next year.

The Next BACKYARD BIRD COUNT is underway February 14-17, 2020
Here is a great opportunity to participate as a “Citizen Scientist!”  If you have never participated before, and are interested, see the GBBC website to get started and create an account, which you will need to enter data.
http://gbbc.birdcount.org/
Count birds anytime, anywhere, with eBird »