Taken with towboats (Aug. 2)

July 30, 2009

We drive the stretch of northbound I-55 between Loughborough and Arsenal several times a week, and the boys never paid much attention to its excellent view of the Mississippi River until after we toured a towboat in Grafton earlier this month. Now they’re craning their necks and scouting for barges as soon as we hit a break in the trees.

On a towboat in Alton, Ill.

On a towboat in Alton, Ill.

In the city, the best view of the barge traffic can be had at Sister Marie Charles Park, just inside the city’s southern limit, east of Broadway on Elwood Street. Don’t be scared off by the park’s unsavory reputation as an anonymous pickup joint — it has a lovely view and deserves to be frequented by towboat-loving kids, especially during daylight hours.

A mom from the Illinois side of the river told me what a great visit her boys had to the Melvin Price Locks and Dam in Alton, and I’ve been thinking it’d be fun to take mine over there … someday. Thanks to Sunday’s (Aug. 2) Towboat Open House there, we now have an excellent excuse. The event features the Army Corps of Engineers’ largest diesel towboat, the Mississippi, which will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (For details, call 618.462.6979.) In addition, the National Great Rivers Museum at the lock and dam is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day (and every day) with free exhibits on Mississippi River aquatic life, river flow and soil formation, native cultures, river pilots’ training and much more. While you’re there, sign up at the museum desk for free tours of the locks and dams.

You may be surprised, as I was, how immaculate everything is on a towboat. The best part by far is talking to the crew — this will be possible on Sunday too, and don’t be shy about asking questions! It’s a fascinating world out there on the river, and I’m glad our family has finally started to learn about it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s