‘Great River Road’ enjoyed

When I was young, I met many delegates to the Mississippi Parkway through good friends of the family, Kate and Bill Noden, who were my third set of grandparents.
For many years, Fort Frances and area promoted crossing the border and proceeding north to Dryden as an extension of the “Great River Road.”
My wife and I always have thought that travelling the Great River Road south to its outlet would be fascinating and so we took on the road trip over the past two weeks.
We began in Hastings, Mn., where the St. Croix River flows into the Mississippi. We then began following the Great River Road south, passing through many small communities strung out along the bottom of the river gorge.
The first set of locks are found in Minneapolis while the final set of locks, which permit barge river travel over 1,100 miles, is No. 27 found in Granite City, Ill.
By the time the Mississippi empties into the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans from its beginnings at Lake Itasca, it has dropped almost 1,500 feet.
One might not realize how busy the river traffic is along the Mississippi River, but there are constant streams of towboats and barges moving north and south. The boats moving north against the currant must give the right of way to those moving south.
Boats head north all the way to Minneapolis, or follow up the Ohio River to Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky.
One also can travel up the Missouri River all the way to Kansas City. Some barge traffic can get as far north as Sioux Falls, Iowa.
Travelling the bottom of the bluffs along the Great River Road, one only can marvel how this great river has ground its way down through the limestone that juts out in the bluffs.
Just riding up out of the river to the bluffs can seem like climbing 500 feet. And reaching the top of the bluffs, one looks out on miles and miles of corn and soy beans through southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and even into northern Arkansas.
Once into the southern states, you see the huge work that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has done to build giant levees to hold back flooding. They are huge and protect farmland, and major cities, against flooding as the Mississippi can leap in height.
The crops change from corn to rice, cotton sorghum, and soybeans through the southern states. In Louisiana, you also will see sugar cane being grown.
Travelling along the highways, crop seed signs are posted. But you have to research what you saw on the highway by going back to the Internet and learning about what you saw.
Large signs saying rice or sorghum or sugar cane would be a good addition for tourism.
The cotton was all out in bright white and the harvesters were in the fields creating huge bales of cotton. Each of the 2.5 metre by 2.5 metre by 5 metre long bales were covered in the fields awaiting transport to the river for movement north and south.
Huge grain elevators for soy beans, corn, and other grains also were strategically placed to move those crops north or south by barge.
It was evident that the Mississippi is a lifeline for agriculture in the U.S.

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