Monday, August 14, 2017

Cruisin' Down The River

From the day when I was first introduced to the writings of Mark Twain, I wanted to learn more about the Mississippi River and its famed steamboat history. This past week Ruth and I had an opportunity to do that in a special way.

We booked passage on the American Queen, a steam powered riverboat that travels the Mississippi from New Orleans to Red Wing, MN with stops at the river towns along the way.

We took an abbreviated trip, traveling from Red Wing to Dubuque, and then back to Red Wing with stops at Prairie du Chein, La Crosse, and Winona, MN, plus Dubuque and Red Wing of course.

The American Queen is a big boat, 420 feet long with 424 passengers and a crew of 172. It has six decks and as you might guess, one of its greatest challenges is traveling under the many bridges that cross the river. The boat has the capability of lowering its smoke stacks, was well as its pilothouse. But even then, for some of the bridges, only a few inches separate the top of the boat from the bottom of a bridge.

The several dams and locks along the river present another challenge. If I counted correctly there are nine dams and locks between Red Wing and Dubuque. These were built during the Depression years of the 1930s, as government projects, and each one is an engineering marvel. They were built, not for flood control, but as a way of maintaining the river depth so the many tow boats, and boats like ours could more easily make their way.

It was a great week on the Upper Mississippi, thought by many to be the most beautiful part of the river with the beautiful river bluffs, bald eagles everywhere, and interesting river towns along the way.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Too often we take the great Mississippi River for granted, the river that defines much of our state’s western boundary.


August 15, 11:00 to 11:45. Larry Meiller Show, Wisconsin Public Radio. With daughter Sue, discussing Old Farm Country Cookbook.

August 18, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Writing Workshop, The Clearing.

Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:

Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)

Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest nonfiction books, Never Curse the Rain and Old Farm Country Cookbook, and his newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. Also available are Wisconsin Agriculture: A History, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their own stories.

Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984

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