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Date: July 24, 2002 at 01:09:49
From: Captain Mike, [user-119at1j.biz.mindspring.com]
Subject: The Captains Log


Well folks, the Mississippi River at Memphis is going below zero on the gauge for the first time in quite a while. What does that mean? It means that Old Man River is going to show us parts not seen in years! Many of you may remember 1988, the year of the all time low for the "Big Muddy". The steamboats cruised and were not much affected, but the tow boats suffered alot because they had to drastically reduce the size and draft of their barges. The neat thing about severe low water is the parts of the bottom of the river that will be exposed that are rarely seen. I thought that I would never see the Mississippi that low again, but it is possible that we will get close again this year. There are no garrantees with mother nature but it promises to be interesting! Some of you call recall when the crew of the Delta Queen discovered the wreck of a Civil War gunboat sticking out of the river bottom in 1988s low water, a find that was later confirmed by the Louisiana Department of Archeology to be that of a union gunboat sunk at the battle of Port Hudson in 1863! We also saw every usually submerged rock, old barge, rock dike and snag like never before! The greatest problem from low water is the channel delays that it causes for all river traffic. What once were mile wide channel areas shrink down to only a couple of hundred feet, so traffic has to share the trickle, and take turns passing through the narrow areas! God Bless it, that is what I love about the river, it always changes, and even though you may have traversed it a thousand times, it is NEVER the same! I don't fear the river, but I repect it immensely, beyond description, and I always look forward to casting myself out to it's call, not in challenge, but in surrender to the magical, addicting thrill of being free, free and spirited on the greatest river in the world! This year we return, not in a pompous or artificial re-creation of the old river days, but to humbly and eagerly thrust ourselves to living the river life, the Steamboat way, the way that has'nt changed. Once again, we will LIVE and BREATHE steamboating, in every minute sense, and be gloriously frightened, beautifully awestruck, and profoundly dumbfounded at our own insignificance upon the "Father Of Waters"! The whistle will soon again resonate off of startled hillsides, the calliope will cast a happy hello to the towns tucked on the wooded shores, and somewhere soon, in a small town along an American river, a young boy will rush in to his river side home and yell,"Mom! Dad! The Delta Queen is coming up around the bend!" I want to be there! With you! God Bless from the wharf!


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