Sunday, August 19, 2012

Missouri River Rumble-Day 4B

One push boat with barges that traveled downstream with us.  Notice in
the foreground one of the hazards of wingdams---the debris that can get
trapped in the wingdams.  I saw one I would have loved to have had a picture
of.  An entire mature tree was balanced perfectly on top of a wingdam.  Such
items can ensnare a paddler that otherwise may make it across the dam.

The state of the Missouri River has become a hot topic of late. As I mentioned earlier, last year the river valley was flooded. Many of the parks where we camped this year were submerged a year ago. Now, as extreme drought grips the Mid-West, the Missouri is seeing some of the lowest water levels ever. These extremes are attracting the attention of those that would like to see the river changed. The Mississippi River Commission is wanting to see a more reliable water flow from the Missouri to improve conditions on their waters, and are courting the Corps of Engineers to explore some changes for the Missouri. One thing that is changing, and that they are using as an excuse to support their cause, is the impact of water extremes on commercial shipping. The Missouri never sees the amount of traffic that the Mississippi does, but with the extreme lows, conditions now have made commercial shipping all that more difficult. We only saw two push boats (tugs) and barges our entire week on the river. One, shown in the picture, went downstream, and another traveled upstream. That was it.

All day, all night, they were coming.....
and going, only about 60 feet away, but they sure dried laundry fast.

Hermann is the center of the Missouri Rhineland. The vineyards were established during the mid-1800’s and produced wonderful wines until Prohibition shut the industry down. Strangely, the industry did not return until the 1960’s, but has grown until the seven area vineyards produce a third of the state’s wine. The town was founded by the Deutsche Ansiedlungs-Gesellschaft. Say that three times real fast. To us, that would be the German Settlement Society, based in Philadelphia, in the hope that it would become the heart of German-America. Hermann is also the state’s sausage producing center.

Hermann Riverfront Park
One of the fleet of the town's shuttles.
Hermann, the "Rhineland on the Missouri."

Rivers and railroads travel the same routes, so hearing the frequent rumble of trains is normal. (I wonder if that’s where the name for the River Rumble comes from.) Here, however, up close and personal was taken to a new high as our tents were to be pitched only about 50-60 feet off the tracks. Trains seemed to come by about every 20 minutes, and these were long trains, maybe around 150 or more cars each. The up side of this was that we could hang our wash on the cyclone fence by the tracks, and between the sun and the wind blowing off each passing train, clothes dried in minutes. The down side was that in the wee hours of the morning, five trains came through in about one 30 minute period---four freight trains and an Amtrak. Add to this the fact that it was still close to 100-degrees when it was time to turn in, and that my tent fan would pick this night to mysteriously die, sleep was the one thing the night would refuse me.

The Hofgarten, venue for many events like the
FOUR-WEEK LONG Oktoberfest.

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