Sunday, June 14, 2015

I'm In the East Now!

Yes, I crossed the Mississippi River! The Mississippi River has 29 locks and dams between Minneapolis and St Louis to keep the river at least 9 feet deep and navigable. Lock and Dam #15 is right here in Rock Island, IL, and we were lucky enough to get a private tour.

The tow boats push as many as 15 barges up and down the river. When they go through the locks, they must push the first 9 barges in, unhook them, and the tow boat goes through with the other 6. Here the first 9 have already gone through.

And the tow boat with the other 6 is entering the lock.

Each barge carries the equivalent of 16 rail cars or 70 semi loads. So a 15-barge tow is equivalent to over 1000 semi loads!

The barges can make it under the double-decker Government Bridge (trains on top, cars on bottom), but when the tow boat goes through, the bridge must swivel 90-degrees. You can see it swiveling in the first picture.

The bridge was built back in 1896.

It's possible to walk across the bridge. I was glad a train didn't go over while I was on the bridge.

And you can even walk under the bridge, where you can see the swiveling mechanism.

The dam here is the largest Roller Dam in the world. It is also known as "The Drowning Machine."

The bridge has ropes hanging off of it that you can grab onto if you get too close to the dam.

And if that wasn't enough excitement for the day, that evening we went to the Backwater Gamblers Water Ski Show.

For some of their tricks, they just jumped off the dock in front of us.

Some of the performers were pretty young.

It takes a lot of power to pull all those people.

There was a ramp that they could go over to do some of the tricks.

It was an amazing show - highly recommended!


  1. Is this where the song rock Island line comes from?

    1. Sure is. And the train went over an earlier version of that bridge.

  2. I remember seeing one of those shows in Florida when I was really young. Absolutely amazing and I would love to see another one.

  3. That little one doesn't look too thrilled to be skiing. Of course, I wouldn't look too thrilled either to ski on top on somebody's shoulders... ;c)

  4. Very interesting about the Rock Island Line. Water skiing was my favorite sport as a kid and that was in Ohio LOL. I'll be interested to see where you are off to in the East. Don't go too far south. 90 degrees for weeks in Virginia.

  5. I'm headed East, leaving from Washington on Thursday the 18. Will be going across 1-90 and I - 80. so much different from the west. I'll be following to find interesting spots along the way... Happy trails.

  6. Wayne loves dams and bridges and Rock Island is already on my list. When I saw you were in Iowa I wondered if you were crossing the Mississippi!


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