River Towns


July13We’ve been hanging out at the campground a lot lately and I needed a day behind the wheel.  However, with recent rains to the North of us, flooding, eroded roads, and dams in danger we didn’t want to head in that direction.  Areas North of us got 6″ to 10″ in a short time a few days ago and they’re in a mighty ‘fix’ right now.  We’re praying for them.

Instead we headed South for the Mississippi, through the back roads and small towns.  It was a pleasant, restful, day’s drive with minimal truck traffic, and … well… not much traffic at all.

What I like about the towns along the Mississippi is that they each have their own personality, and at one time their own reason for existing.  With there being both the river and railroad some of them were founded to service the trains, others to support river traffic and river commerce, and then there’s also a Corps of  Engineers River Support Center for dredging and lock maintenance — so there’s a lot of infrastructure reasons to still have communities along the river.

With a couple exceptions, the communities along the river are under 1000 population. De Soto, Lynxville, Alma, Fountain City, Maiden Rock, etc., etc..  They are primarily working towns with summer tourist services — which for the most part really are SUMMER services.  Come autumn most of these town appear to shrivel up and die even though they have their own unique lives.  They just aren’t apparent to the passerby.

Inland from the river, for most of that western border, is a formidable ridge that sometimes make the Western Edge of Wisconsin seem to belong more to Iowa and Minnesota than to Wisconsin.  Of course the scarcity of bridges across the River makes for  difficult access to either MN or IA.

It seems in recent years there’s an influx of Irish bars along the river — not sure what that’s all about other than Americans being infatuated by beer and bars in general and “Irish” synonymous for a good time.  Back in the day there may have been a lot of Irish working on the railroad — Peg’s Grandfather was a good train man all his life.  But nowadays those ethnic pigeonholes are fewer and further between.

I always expect there to be more services along the river than what there are.  There’s an absence of RV parks here, there’s an scarcity of nice restaurants here, and if you need RV service — forget it.  You’re pretty much out of luck.  I hate to admit it, but being a guy who doesn’t like going to a bar for food, we often end up waiting for a meal till we get to one of the larger communities along the river.  That’s just personal preference. Then again I’m not a fan of SAMMICHES (translation:  sandwich).  I can make a sammich at home.  If I need to buy a meal I’m usually going to opt for something other than a sammich!

corn tassel
Every year we watch the corn growing; looking first for “Knee-hi by the 4th of July” and then for the tassels.

We were noticing that along the sections we have been driving this year there have been serious efforts to improve the roads.  We have not been South of LaCrosse where the WI-35 was the bumpiest, but further north the roads have been much smoother. Yay state highway department!

It was a beautiful day.  We saw our first tassled corn of the season.  The crops are looking really good right  now — here anyway.  Not so sure about further north where they had so much rain but that may not be corn country anyway.

Thanks for stopping by.  Today was our second day off this week, so we’re back to the weekend grind, getting ready for the new crowd.  I’ll be here tomorrow.  Why not stop by and say hi!

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6 Comments

  1. My mother taught us to wonder at the power and significance of rivers. To this day they mesmerize me. I’m drawn first to their banks – unrelenting forces of nature carve fingers through the land.Sigh. It makes me so happy to know you and Peg are meandering along side them. 🙂

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    1. WE’ve been secretly wandering the back roads around here. The dam that protects the lower villages and towns along the Eau Galle seems such a huge structure for the size of the river, but with a good storm the water in the 65 acre lake will rise 10’ and the streams can rise 2’ in a matter of minutes.

      When we travel some of these roads, some 50 years after the dam has been in place we see these WIDE verdant valleys and the terror that must have been a part of living-with-the-river long ago is but a distant memory. Yet the width and flatness of the valley speaks to how ravenous the ‘little stream’ once was as it gobbled up real estate.

      We have had a lot of rain / flooding / bridges out just to the North of us this year. A great many communities face serious rebuilding problems that could have been worse with record rainfalls.

      We just don’t give Momma Nature credit for being the harridan that she is. She wants things her own way!

      >

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  2. Some eateries put together interesting combinations of ingredients on their sandwiches. I like discovering new combos to try at home.

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