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Low water on the Upper Miss

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    Low water on the Upper Miss

    As I posted in the Steamboats section, it looks like the AMERICAN QUEEN had to end her trip in Red Wing due to the low water. It looks like the QUEEN of the MISSISSIPPI went as far as Prairie du Chien and then doubled back to Dubuque. Its hard to believe that both boats had to alter their UMR trips just a month ago due to HIGH water, and now low water has fouled up their schedules, but that's the way it goes....NCP 3 letters we who travel and/or work on the river know all too well!

    #2
    Herewith are several shots from yesterday evening in Red Wing, taken on a fishing platform at the lower end of Bay Point Park just below Red Wing Daybeacon (UMR 791.2), this about 5:30 PM.
    Attached Files

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      #3
      A couple more shots from the Red Wing levee. Here we see the stern of the boat with the empty journals. Travis played a nice set at 5, the previously-scheduled departure time to head up to St. Paul.
      Attached Files

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        #4
        Fantastic photos, Jon. The one with the ECKSTEIN and the AQ tops them all!

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          #5
          Great photos, Jon!

          Same procedure as last year... first high water then low water...

          Carmen

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            #6
            UMR water levels

            In all my DQ UMR trips, some 24 or so of them, I never experienced the mess we've had these past couple of years. Of course we had the infamous high water trip of July 1978, when anything that could go wrong, did, but we made it the entire route. Then there was a trip where we sat for most of the day while a dredge worked around Savanna, Sabula. And we rubbed our bottom on some sandy spots on several occasions, but never this. Our floods used to be late April, period. But now we get them in June/July with this precipitous drop which leaves so much sediment. I don't think financial constrictions regarding the number of dredges we now have operating help either...

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              #7
              More miseries

              Well, as far as I know, the AQ spent the day in RedWing for its scheduled shore stop and the QoM was in Dubuque for at least the third or fourth day. The AQ locked through 4 at Alma at 7:30PM today, downbound. And now word comes that due to several towboat groundings, the river is closed in places above LaCrosse... so whither now, AQ???

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                #8
                Shoaling on the UMR...

                My last trip out we were working between St. Paul and St. Louis. After big high water events ( 100 year floods come every 3-5 years! ) we see 3 to 4 closures throughout the system. This trip we just beat the Lock 4 closure...we did get belly rubs at Beef Slough crossing but didn't stick. Then as the river fell it closed off at Blacksmith Slough and Homer Light just above 6. But our luck ran out above Grafton when Squaw Island shut off. Will see more problem areas as the river slowly returns to flat pool. Thinking Brownsville, Mn will shut off next. All these places are common shoal areas...part of working the Upper. The Corps does dredge, but with minimized budgets they do a lot more "reactive" dredging. They have a name for it...avoid and minimize...meaning if a channel can be buoyed around a bad spot, then send the buoy boat. We have a very large harvest this fall, and will see a lot more tons until the winter of 2015. With the Panama Canal expansion due for completion next year we may see the "old days" return to the UMR as shipping rates to the Pacific Rim will fall due to "Post Panamax" ships now under construction. Good news for all of us on the Upper, but will be slow winding up until the dredges do their thing. Rail has taken a lot of PNW tonnage out of barges in recent years, but is about to change. See you on the one...Luke

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                  #9
                  Thanks Luke

                  Thanks for the on the scene up to date info. I had heard someone ran aground at Brownsville today, not confirmed though.
                  With all the budget cuts, I'm thinking the Corps not only doesn't dredge as much, but doesn't have as many dredges. When the THOMPSON was retired, was it replaced? It seems I heard the RI District has to rent one from St. Paul now. We used to see the THOMPSON regularly below the guidewall at 15, but I haven't seen anything this year.
                  Another victim of the budget: the buoys. When I rode the TWILIGHT, it was amazing to see how many were out of place, or just missing. I heard their budget for the year had been used up, so they wouldn't be bringing the boat up to replace them.

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                    #10
                    Buoys and budgets...

                    When I met the Pathfinder ( COE ) above Lock 25 they said they found 80 missing buoys between St Louis and Lock 22 and had 4 buoys with them. They claimed there is a shortage of sinkers, not buoys, so in the short term we were going to have to find our own way through many tough spots. He did not say why cement sinkers were in short supply. We do have electronic charts on most if not all towing vessels and can "guesstimate" where to run but hard to steer some spots without an actual buoy to steer on or off of. Dead reckoning is still the preferred method of navigation, though the technology is much improved and helps considerably. The northbound tows with loaded barges have the toughest times with shoaling...the boat literally pulls water out from under the barges. When southbound we can float through a tough spot and maintain a lighter draft. Kort nozzles are very effective in directing water flow but require a deeper river...a nozzled boat "squats" in the shallow water and will pull the boat to the bottom. Upper River fun. Luke

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                      #11
                      Dredge Thompson...

                      The St Paul District has the Goetz ( cutter head ) and a few clam diggers...they also contract out other clam diggers to take up the extra cuts. Going south we see the Potter come up from St Louis but keep him close to the home base and the Upper between St Louis and Cairo. In between the RI District has a couple of clam diggers and also contract outside. All are busy as of recent. Our good news is that the Missouri Basin is replenished and are expecting normal releases this year...should keep the channel open between St Louis and Cairo. The past 2 winters we saw the river fall and had problems at Thebes rock cut. We were called into the turn trade as the Crimson Glory can be lightened to less that 9' draft if needed. I read the WJ article where the Mary Lynn recently delivered the first tow in ages to Sioux City due to the extra water up there. A good sign for St Louis southbound shipping. Luke

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                        #12
                        Some shots today after the AQ left Red Wing (no tow pushing her on the downbound trip):

                        1. Entering lock 4 at Alma, WI as Marquette's BRUCE L. HAHN pushes ahead, about 7:30 PM. The haze is reportedly from wildfires in Canada/Washington state.
                        2. Passing Minneiska, MN at about UMR 742.5 where the channel crosses back over from WI, 9:15.
                        3. The moon keeps watch over the calm waters of the Upper Miss as the boat passes out of sight between Island 49 Light and Minneiska Lower Light.
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                          #13
                          Beautiful moonlight

                          That moonlight shot is gorgeous!
                          I love coming down to Minnieska - that daymark on the Iowa shore is right in front of that church, so the boat makes that big crossing aiming right at the church.

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                            #14
                            dredge GOETZ

                            I stumbled across this picture of the GOETZ, which has replaced the THOMPSON in the RI district. You'll notice she doesn't have sleeping quarters for the crew.
                            Attached Files

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