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!!

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–

Trumpeter Swans die on Twin Cities Lake

I’m constantly amazed at the swan stories I’ve seen reported this winter as Trumpeter Swan populations increase on the upper Mississippi River. This particular story is a sad one. If you find a dead Swan, please make a phone call to your local DNR.

More than a dozen swans have died at Twin Cities lake

Lead poisoning is the suspected cause of death. FEB 4, 20

Screen Shot 2020-02-04 at 2.23.55 PM

Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization

Trumpeter swans continue to die of suspected lead poisoning at a lake in the Twin Cities metro area. 

Last year, 11 of the majestic swans were found dead at Vadnais Lake in Vadnais Heights. This winter, two additional trumpeter swans have been located deceased at the lake, including one on the lake’s north end/east side, and another at Sucker Channel. 

Sucker Channel is where the 11 birds were found dead last year. Four of those 11 were tested, with results positive for lead poisoning. The trumpeter swan found at Sucker Channel this week has been sent to the University of Minnesota Diagnostic Lab for necropsy and testing.

Vadnais Lake Area Water Management I Organization has a theory about how the swans are being poisoned

“Swans use their long necks to reach the bottom and pick up stones to grind food in their gizzard. Lead sinkers are just the right size for the job, so swans pick them up preferentially. Sinkers get ground up in their gizzard and incorporated into body tissue. These carcasses pose a risk to scavengers and pets that might feed on them.”

The group is urging the public to keep an eye out for more dead swans and for anglers to avoid using lead fishing tackle, instead opting for tin, tungsten, steel, glass and other non-lead alternatives. 

The dead swan on the north end of the lake cannot be safely retrieved, so it will stay there for the time being. Anyone who finds a dead swan is asked to report it by calling 651-204-6070

Clinton, IA. Eagle watch Jan 4, 2020

If you have been on Pool 8 watching the Swan migration, you will have noticed that the American Bald Eagles are abundant wherever water is open. Eagle Watches have been a traditional Winter celebration along the length of the Mississippi River. The first of our announced dates is for CLINTON, IA.  The Eagle Watch will be Jan 4, 2020 at Lock and Dam 13.

Booths, etc. will be at Clinton Community College, Iowa.  Bus will run between the two to save parking, etc.  Scouts will have food there to sell.  We will have
coffee, etc. at the Corp. building to warm you up.  David Stokes from WI
will be the guest speaker.  If you would like the flyer, please e-mail astraight4@frontier.com

Eagles on ICE by Richard Middleton

Eagles on ICE by Richard Middleton

Woohoo! Tundra Swans by the thousands this morning!

Had the great joy this morning of seeing thousands of pristine white Tundra Swans along Wisconsin’s Hwy 35, just to south of Goose Island!  The sky was full of flying swans as well as swans filling the ponds.  When I returned 1/2 an hour later, the skies were empty and there were fewer swans on the water.

Tundra Swan

“So where did they go?” I asked another birder who was panning with his scope.

“Did you notice that the wind changed direction and picked up, since 11 a.m. ? That’s what some of them were looking for. They’ve already resumed their migration to Chesapeake Bay.”

I was also curious as to what he saw in the scope. “Any gray cignets (juveniles)?” He said, yes, a few, but indeed most were adults and most were not family groups. The first drop of migrating swans is normally the single swans rather than swans traveling with juveniles.

Finally, make a grand journey THIS WEEKEND along the Great River Road between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Dubuque, Ia.  In addition to Swans in the pools north of Genoa, American Bald Eagles are migrating and we are flush with both our resident eagles and the eagles moving down from the north (more on this in a later piece). Remember to visit the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN.

BEST Fall color on the AQRichardFall Color will be in its waning weekend the next several days. Oaks are a rich rust color and some of the late coloring trees are still coming into color (it’s all in the genes!)

So hit the road!! There is lots to see! and don’t forget your copy of Discover! America’s Great River Road by River Author, Pat Middleton... your guide to eagle watching, regional history, Treasure Hunting, commercial fishing, and more!!! Order your copy of each of the four volumes which lead travelers from St. Paul to the Gulf of Mexico by CLICKING HERE!

Discover America's Great River Road, Vol 1 - St.Paul Minnesota to Dubuque Iowa By Pat Middleton

 

 

 

 

Plan ahead for Map Gift Giving! Textiles, Fine Art Prints, Home Decor

Our Historic Map Collection is Growing by Leaps and Bounds! More than 350 hand painted Historic, Retro, and Custom Designed Maps are now available, many on our Mississippi River-focused Great River Shopping Cart !

Now is the time to order your historic map ART for Christmas/Holiday gifting.  

Our 1887 Mississippi River Historic Ribbon Map can now be artisan matted, framed and shipped nation-wide for $220. Need a custom map of YOUR estate or favorite destination? Please PHONE 888-255-7726  Hand painted originals available now! Usual wait period is 1 month! So order now for a gift to be available by Christmas. Four matting choices!

CLICK HERE TO SEARCH our Map shopping site by any KEYWORD… date, cartographer, locale, state, etc. If you don’t find it, Call us! 888-255-7726

Custom Framing Services   

Old Time Railroad Stories in three volumes

Steamboating on America’s Rivers!

Phone 406-471-756 with Questions, or
visit our MAP Shopping Cart to order online!

For Mississippi River BOOKS and More, visit click links above, or enter BOOKS in the Search Box.

 

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

 

Sandhills in the Valley, March 14, 2019

Every year the day arrives when I can say “spring has sprung in the valley,” Today was that day! 49 degrees. Sandhill cranes, redwing blackbirds, Canada geese, a pair of trumpeters, a turkey vulture, a Valley awash in snow melt.  While it seems late compared to recent arrival dates, a quick review of past Sandhill arrival dates shows that the cranes arrived right on schedule.

March 15, 2009  “Bitter cold night as late as 03/13/09. So cranes waited until we hit the 50 degree mark two days later.
March 12, 2008 “3 Sandhill cranes fly over Goose Island near La Crosse.
March 13, 2008  A Single crane flies, calling, over Coon Creek near Stoddard.   Lots of melting snow in the valley. Temp of 56.7 degrees. ”                           

March 11, 2007 “Sandhill Cranes on the islands off Goose Island Park south of La Crosse. Temps in upper 40s, two weeks after record snowfalls in Western Wisconsin, so lots of snow on the ground. March 12 the cranes are reported along Coon Creek and other valleys off the Upper Mississippi River.”                               

Feb 23, 2005  (a good two weeks earlier than normal!)
March 15, 2003
March 13, 2002
March 13, 2001
    March 16, 1999
March 1, 1998
March 10, 1997
March 13, 1996
March 18, 1993
April 4, 1992
March 9, 1988
March 17, 1987

 

 

Sandhill Cranes Seem to Have Arrived!…. I think!

IMG_0189 Well, this is a first! I’m starting to hear that folks south of La Crosse are hearing Sandhill Cranes… but normally, I don’t release such reports until I confirm for myself that nesting cranes have moved in.

This year, there have been a number of interesting Sandhill Crane reports. So far, I’ve heard of 1) a group of 6 or so cranes who spent the whole winter in Wisconsin 2) cranes gathering in Madison by March 1, and finally a phone call that cranes were calling along Coon Creek south of La Crosse by March 4. But it’s been like -12 degrees, and the few minutes I could stand outside, didn’t happen to be the moments that cranes were calling.  So yes, I think they are back right on time this year. We should all be seeing them as temps warm up this next week! Once the ice begins to break up (not happening yet) Tundra Swans should be moving in.