You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Mississippi watershed’ category.

First, some context, and yes, today is that day.  I celebrate it without claiming to adhere to anything beginning with ashes.  This may be grasping at long shots, but I have not visited a location that celebrates this spring event in a long time.  I know . . . shame on me.  More on that later.

Anyone know the author here?  It’s a fat tome I’ve taken it from  . . . over 1600 pages, all from the king of fat tomes and rich language himself.

“We are off!”   It has not nearly the hook of a “Call me Ishmael.”  The short second paragraph, though, is a line that needs remembering.   As to location, Ravavai is contextualized with reference to Pitcairn, at place today with a grand total population of 50.   I’m not sure what the population was 150+ years ago when this was written.

Still in the first short chapter . . .  now that’s prescient .  . in the second paragraph here, describing the skipper!

By now, I hope you’ve concluded the author here has to be Melville, one of the top five authors of the sea and gallivants thereupon.  Anyone want to fill in the names of the other four?  I have my ideas.  Mardi is one of those fat books very few folks read.  I started last night, and hope to complete it.  You can start it here.

But in the spirit of mardi gras, here’s another story you may have missed . . . the houseboat Shameless, piloted down the Mississippi by a dying man, Kelly Phillips.  His first mate was Sapphire, recently honored among the float sponsored by the Mystic Krewe of Barkus.

Here’s more on the voyage of Shameless from Wisconsin to Venice LA, and all the great folks along the river who lent a hand.

And if you need some language yourself, click here for a fat Tuesday glossary.


Let’s take a step back now and look at the rest of the L & D at Dubuque, aka the General Zebulon Pike Lock & Dam No. 11.

I gather this red unit on the end can raise and lower the tainter gates, named for the inventor.

Posted at the lock is this set of statistics on the infrastructure.


Tied up at the lock is USACE tug Bettendorf.  Just over two years ago and thanks to Barrel, I posted photos of many USACE tugs and other equipment here.

Across the way in Illinois was what appeared to be a house barge.

Caretakers or friends of (or both) L & D No. 11 have made the best bird houses!!



Public service signage was impressive also.

The mosey was not leisurely, but it whetted my appetite to get back for a trip along the Mississippi.  All photos here by Will Van Dorp, who will soon go into planning mode.


This is the last Chicago-bound post . . . after all, I’ve arrived and even seen the city in the rearview mirror.  A large part of Chicago’s port, per se, is here in the Calumet River. 

Kimberly Selvick shows her versatility by gliding beneath the 95th Street bridge, stopping no traffic.  Not far away, I’m told, is Calumet Fisheries. 


AEP on the barge makes me think the cargo here is coal.


Who’d have thought that jungle on the bank grows in Chicago!?!




All photos by Will Van Dorp, who’d like to head into the system south and west but that’s for later, after I figure out how to do it. Thanks for following along on the Chicago-bound (CB) posts.  It’s time for a new series.


With 2017 looming, it’s time to imagine some possible goals for the near future, assuming we have time.  “Big River” mentions a lot of places I’ve yet to see from the water.  Johnny Cash’s 1962 version isn’t my favorite, I link to it here because he looks so young.   This style boat named Natchez–for one of those places–has worked on the big river in many many capacities for a long time.  Anyone now who is credited for introducing steam to the Mississippi River system?  Answer follows.

By the way this Natchez was launched in 1975, but


the steam plant that drives it


has been around since 1925, albeit in a different vessel.


New Orleans is over a hundred miles from the Gulf and the number of sea-going vessels that pass is phenomenal.


And since they have such wanderlust-feeding names, I’ll let them speak for themselves . . .  the one directly below is SeaKay Spirit.




















Here’s a version of “Big River” closer to what I usually listen to, and it was recorded in long-gone Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City.

And speaking of Roosevelts, that’s who teamed up with Robert Fulton to introduce steam boating to the Mississipi River.

So why are there no contemporary and catchy songs about the Hudson watershed?  Oh, I’m no songwriter and play no instruments.

Now if only I can get a job sailing from St. Paul MN to the Gulf.  I’m working on it.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.


Crescent has fleets in at least three southern cities, and I’ve featured some of them previously here.


Providence, built 1953, has quite some history in the Northeast, including the sixth boro. Port Allen was built in NYC at Consolidated in 1945, and Angus R. Cooper dates from 1965.


I’d never thought of this before, but from this angle, it appears that W. O. Decker is painted in Crescent Towing livery.




Margaret F. Cooper, similarly, worked for a time in NYC’s sixth boro.


As did Miriam Walmsley Cooper!  But southern living seems to agree with these boats, from what I could see as I passed.


Have another look at Providence.  I’m sure some of you have photos of some of these boats back when they worked in the Northeast.



All photos by Will Van Dorp.


Here’s the series.

And there, look at that name.   No, not that one. ..


this one.  And the paint job–or time elapsed since the most recent one–lends authenticity to the name.


She looks to have been “rode hard and put away wet,” but that expression may just apply to horses and this bulk


carrier may just be happy dashing between the Mississippi and Veracruz.  And those streaks of red and yellow . . . they are just like the orange juice and grenadine you mix with the mescal.


I wonder, though, if the rest of the fleet has names like


Tequila Sunset, El Diablo, Margarita  . ..   or maybe like Hotel California, Lyin’ Eyes, or Peaceful Easy Feeling.   Then there could be Tequila Hangover, or Why the Dude Got Thrown out of the Cab.  Of course, if you really want to know the fleet mate names, check here.

All photos and speculation by Will Van Dorp.

Kirby pushboat Niceville, named for a Florida town that used to be Boggy, rounds


the bend at Algiers Point.


Marquette’s St. Peter heads




Classic 1956 George W. Lenzie . ..


was built at the Calumet Ship Yard & Dry Dock in Chicago, where Daryl Hannah was also built in 1956, launched three months after George W. Lenzie.


Gregory David heads downstream under the spans of the Business 90 Bridge.


The water tower in the background is on Guadalcanal Street in Federal City.


Affirmed is a 2009 boat, here headed downstream.




All photos by Will Van Dorp, but if you want a great database for inland river tugs, check out Dick’s Towboat gallery.  Here are the previous posts in this series.


OK, it’s time to reprise this, and admit that once again I’ve learned something . . . by means of my error, my willingness to overgeneralize maybe.

A tolerant reader wrote this in reference to my Flanking, downstream post:

“Not trying to burst your bubble, but those photos indicate the Mike Schmaeng was steering the point,  not backing or flanking!  Also, the river is very low at this time, and there wouldn’t be any reason to flank Algiers Point.”

So let’s just call this River Addyson heading upstream at the Point.  So from this angle, what would you guess about this towboat? flu1



From the view head-on, I’d never have guess there was over 180′ of boat behind those push knees.




Here are the particulars on this vessel from 1958.


All photos by Will Van Dorp, and keep the corrections coming.

Unrelated:  Does anyone know what Seastreak New York is doing in Florida?   I was looking for something else and noticed here . . .


There were “all fast” on Marco Island by 2100 yesterday, but this morning are underway, heading for  . .  Tampa?





Apologies if you received a premature version of this post;  I hit the wrong button.

“Light” here refers not to load but to sunshine and clouds.  These photos were taken just below Algiers Point in unsettled December weather.  Some buildings of New Orleans are visible on the horizon to the left.


These photos of Capes Kennedy and Knox were taken


about an hour apart.  As part of the Ready Reserve fleet, they can be deployed with five days’ notice.


SFL Kent–photos taken about an hour apart–as of this posting, she’s en route


to Morocco.


Notice the EO on the stack beyond the starboard side of SFL Kent?


It’s Alice‘s sister Elsa!




UBC Saiki is currently in Veracruz.




These photos were taken within minutes of each other.


Since this photo was taken, Century Royal has sailed to the DR.




All photos by Will Van Dorp.


I must get back to downstream and upstream tows on the Mississippi soon, but I seriously misread this oncoming vessel.  Some of you might figure out my misread before the end of this post.


What attracted my eye to Florida Enterprise was the superstructure, specifically the cranes overtop the holds.


I’d seen structures somewhat like these on a ship in the KVK here … but they were not quite the same.


Because of poor lighting and large distance relative to my position, I missed the really unusual feature of the vessel


–or rather vessels–which I should have


seen here.  See it?


Florida Enterprise is a barge, and the prime mover here


is now called Coastal 202.  Below is a photo taken by Barry Andersen, which I got permission to use from Fred Miller II, which shows Coastal 202–then called Jamie A. Baxter–light, an ITB out of the notch. The photo below was taken soon after the tug’s launch in mid-1977 from Peterson Builders in Sturgeon Bay WI.  Here’s another taken when the vessel was out of the notch and then known as Barbara Knessel.  


Click here for some ITB posts I did back in 2008.   Click here for a better view of Coastal 202 and her cargo barge that shows she is in fact an ITB.

Now I’d love to see Coastal 202 out of the notch from all angles and to see ISH’s rail ferry too.

Truth be told, another surprise was that nola hula was nowhere to be seen  . ..  maybe headed out to sea like that humpback that splashed around the sixth boro last month?


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May 2021