The river itself is not exactly what I expected. The Army Corps of Engineers has turned the Ohio River into a series of lakes using dams and locks. Their goal is to maintain a navigation channel nine feet deep at all times. We call it the Ohio Lake here in Louisville.
The Mississippi River also has dams for navigation, but in between the dams the river twists and turns as it did in the days of Mark Twain. We watched a fully loaded coal barge turn almost sideways to make a turn around a large sand bar. A towboat pushing a full load of fifteen barges is like trying to steer three football fields, 365 days a year, in all kinds of weather. The map above shows some of the channels from the last 250 years. Oxbow lakes, such as Reelfoot, are left as the channel changes directions. The land is perfectly flat and fertile, so farmers plant great fields of corn, soybeans and cotton. Migrating Tree Swallows swoop after insects we can't even see, then perch on the power lines. I saw more Kestrels this weekend than ever before.
We drove downstream to the nearest bridge, then up the Missouri bootheel through the fault zone. Not wanting to drive that far again to get back to Reelfoot, we got to ride the Hickman Ferry across the river, back to the Kentucky side. The small boat you see on the side of this photo is on a hinge. When we pulled away from shore, this part swung out and around, so it could push across the river in a forward direction, just as it did on the way to pick us all up.
My next postings will all be about our weekend at Reelfoot, and the cypress swamps and wildlife we enjoyed.