Thursday, August 29, 2013

Some missing pictures

You may remember that our camera died during a particularly raucous encounter with barge prop-wash on the Mississippi River. We finally got a replacement for it and the new camera was happy to read the images off of the old camera's storage card. So here are some of the images we couldn't share earlier.

Here is a picture of the first Asian carp that through himself (herself?) in the dinghy. We weren't so charmed by the next three kamikaze carp, didn't take their pictures.
Dead carp
This looks like a lock sitting at the side of the river without a corresponding dam and that is exactly what it is. On the Illinois and Ohio Rivers there are dams called wicket dams that can be raised and lowered to control the depth of the pool behind them. The wickets are pieces of metal that are put in place, or lowered, using a crane on a floating barge. We talked with a lock tender at one dam where the wickets were up and he explained the process to us. That dam had 108 wickets that needed to be individually raised. When you approach a dam with the wickets up from up river you can't see the dam, the lock tenders start the wicket raising process by putting buoys in the water directing boats to the lock. When the wickets are down, you get this weird experience of driving over where the dam should be, bypassing the lock.
Wickets down on the Illinois
The wicket dams can change the depth of the water by 10 or more feet. Of course, the depth of the water changes many times over the course of a single year. We came down the coast of Michigan slowly because the rivers were flooding in May and June. By the time we got to the Mississippi the river was low. When you get to the southern end of the Illinois and the the Mississippi you really understand how much the river levels change. These houses are on the banks of the Mississippi and they are raised two full stories from the ground to the first floor.
River houses
The marinas on the rivers have floating docks. Look at the dark poles in this picture. That is how high the docks can rise as the river rises.
River marina
Even the trees have to deal with the rising and lowering of the water. This tree is in the pool of one of the wicket dams. You can see the line in the tree that marks where the water is when the dam is raised.

This is one barge in a Mississippi tow. Imagine a tow with 8 or 9 of these in a row and 3 or 4 rows lashed together. We are still going to be dealing with tows on the Tennessee River and the Tombigbee waterway, but they won't be as big as the Mississippi River tows.

Mississippi barge
We went past St. Louis on the Mississippi and I had to take the standard St. Louis Arch picture. What I had never noticed before is that the state capitol is actually framed by the arch from the water. 

St. Louis has the worst waterfront of any water front city I have seen. I thought Cleveland had wasted its water front but it has nothing on St. Louis. That "beach" you see in front of the arch is a parking lot. Of course, with all the commercial barge traffic on the Mississippi, and the cities upstream who pump their waste into the river, you wouldn't want to swim in the Mississippi anyway.

We've just come back to the boat after going home to Cleveland for a couple of weeks. Saturday our friends the Harrises arrive for a week's visit and we will start heading up the Tennessee River towards Knoxville.