Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mississippi River 23-29 Sept 2013

The Beautiful Mississippi

          Captain Bill of Babsea on the Mississippi with his side kick Achmed, Resemblance?

                                                Alton Marina 23-26 September
           As you can tell by the amount of time we spent at the Alton Marina we enjoyed it 
The marina was built after a great flood in1993. The unique features of this flood resistant marina include floating structures, even a floating pool and two hot tubs. The entire marina sits on floating bollards so as the water raises, or lowers so does the infrastructure.

This picture depicts the site of Lincoln's last debate with Douglas for a seat in the senate. With the issue of slavery dividing the country more than 6,000 people arrived on foot, by train, and steamboat to gather, and hear this debate on Oct 15, 1858. The magnitude of the number in those days astounded me. Lincoln lost the seat, but elevated himself to victory as the President of the United States in 1860

Another Lincoln story I liked, was the duel that never happened... Lincoln criticized the Illinois state auditor James Shield’s method for collecting taxes. Pretending to be a widow Lincoln wrote letters attacking the auditor. Upon finding out about the deception, Shields challenged Lincoln to a duel. Lincoln did not want to duel, but it was custom so he chose a site across the river from Alton, Illinois and as his weapon he chose the largest cavalry swords he could find. As Lincoln’s long arms swung the sword at a branch on a nearby willow tree Shields wisely decided to settle the disagreement like a gentleman. 

Alton Prison

Alton is known as one of the most haunted small towns in America, having a long dark and bloody history of floods, epidemics, death & murder. The civil war, the underground railroad, smallpox catastrophes, a confederate prison to the mob killing of Elijah Lovejoy. Many curses stopped it from becoming the St Louis of the Midwestern United States. The spirits from these tragedies are said to be still haunting these areas. 

The haunted story began with the Alton Prison. It was the first Illinois state prison and it opened in 1833. Alton is rich in lime stone so, the prison was built with the local stone. The prison quickly became over crowded and had deplorable conditions, so it closed. Then, during the civil war in 1862 it became a military prison for confederate soldiers. Six to ten men died everyday. It was said that 1809 people died during that time. The story goes that the lime from that prison helped build other houses in the Alton area allowing these dead spirits live on. 
The legendary Mc Pike Mansion is claimed to be haunted by members of the underground railroad, servants of the building, a cook in the kitchen, a strange death of a woman in the bathtub, some believe the Mc Pikes still wander the house. 

Elijah Lovejoy
Elijah Lovejoy was an outspoken newspaper editor that was an abolitionist. He used his position to attack slavery, his views were unpopular in the south, so mobs destroyed his newspaper presses three times, and threw them into the Mississippi river. The fourth, press was stored in a warehouse where an angry mob attacked, destroying the press and killing Lovejoy.
We were walking around the town and found everything extremely spread out, we had no car and the temp is in the 80‘s when we stumbled upon a great bar. So, we are sitting in the Firemans bar, thank you Miss Bonnie, having a wonderful cold beer when we meet Brian. A great guy who became tour guide extrordinaire for Rita & I.  Brian showed us the sites and took us to this great bluff for a great view of the Mississippi from up top.

No visit to Alton would be complete if you didn’t go to Fast Eddies. Fun Fun Fun

The tallest, man in the world was from Alton

Leaving Alton
Our Lady of the river is a 50' shrine built after a disastrous flood in 1951 that stopped just shy of the village Portage des Sioux. Yearly a blessing of the fleet is held at this site. 
The Chain of Rocks Canal
Our first sights of St Louis 
We chose not to stop in St Louis but the sight of the arch was a stunning sight. it is a memorial to Thomas Jefferson, who dreamed of a continental United States

Hoppies Marina
Hoppies Marina is a legend  among loopers. At Mile Marker 158.5 it is the only place to get fuel for the next 107 miles. As beautiful as the last stop was Hoppies is well "different." It is owned by the colorful Fern and her husband who have been operating it since 1973. Hoppieswas established in 1934 by Hoppies father. He was a lamp lighter on the Mississippi when the navigation lights were lit using kerosene. 

Now 79 years latter Fern shares her wisdom with loopers to ensure they have a safe journey

Personaly I think the lore is bigger than the stop

I just had to stick this in Marc and his trusty autohelmbetter known to me as Gustouv my swedish helmsman, at work. Note the hand 

Canadian Canoeists 
So we are just about at the end of the Mississippi when we spot a canoe with a big Canadian flag flying on the back. Out came our air horn. We slowed down, and they paddled over. The two young men were Mac & Hayden from Minedosa Manitoba. They were making the trek from the headwaters of the Mississippi River, Lake Itaska to the Gulf of Mexico. I had just pulled three loaves of warm bread from the oven, gave them one and off they went. Around six that evening they caught up to us at Angelo Towhead told us tales of their adventure, drank a couple cold Canadian beers, Bliss feed them and they were off to continue down the Mississippi. 

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