Running the Rivers - Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio to the Cumberland

At the Hardin Riverdock the tie-up is free if you dine at the restaurant. We obviously arrived too late the night before to be able to have dinner but not to worry, they serve a mean breakfast. Fueled-up with eggs and potatoes we cruise downstream toward the confluence of the Illinois River and the Mississippi River. We have traveled down the Illinois River for 303.4 miles and at Grafton, IL we meet the Mississippi River at mile 221.5. Just a few miles downriver is Alton, IL (40NM), where we dock for two evenings. On arrival we top-off the diesel, pump-out the head and give the boat a bath. It is amazing how filthy the boat gets, between the industrial areas, the mucky river-water and the bugs it is nice to see her clean (at least for a day!). Larry and I explore Alton which is the first town we have stopped at that actually has hills. But far beyond its’ hills, it is Alton’s history that is great to experience. We are lucky enough to meet Don Huber at the Catdaddy’s Tavern and low-and-behold he is the town historian. We learn that Lincoln almost fought a duel on an island near here until the challenger realized that Lincoln’s reach extended his own. Don also tells us about the assassination of journalist Elijah P. Lovejoy in 1837 (an ardent abolitionist), in addition to Alton being the site of the first State Prison in Illinois during civil war times. The next day we take the bikes out to explore many of the historic sites that Don has told us about and then end the day at Fast Eddie’s Bon Air, a great place to people-watch, listen to live music and have a couple cold ones. Up early and feeling lucky to clear the Mel Price Lock and Dam 26 and the Chain of Rocks Lock and Dam 27 within an hour and half. We keep cruisin’ down the Mississippi River to St. Louis with its’ traffic jam of tugs and tows. Not to mention the river runs pretty fast at your stern here and controlling the boat in these busy channels with oncoming traffic is a herculean effort on Larry’s part. Further downriver we tie-up for the evening on the wall at Kaskaskia Lock at mile 117.5 on the Mississippi River (86NM). With the river running fast at our stern (4 knot push at times) we rack up the miles today with a long run down the Mississippi River to the Ohio River. There just are not many options for places to stop or safe places to anchor on the Mississippi so we keep cruising along and make it through the new Olmsted Lock to an anchorage called ‘Bean Branch Creek’ on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River (144NM). The next day we have a short run to Paducah, KY (20NM) where will spend two nights at the City Marina. We have a nice time in this ‘big - little town’ as the locals say and move on through the Cumberland River to the catch the Barkley Lock just as it is opening - what luck! We will spend two nights at Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers, Kentucky (40NM).

Independence at her end-tie under the New Clark Highway Bridge, Alton, IL on the Mississippi River

Independence at her end-tie under the New Clark Highway Bridge, Alton, IL on the Mississippi River

Wandering the hills of Alton at sunset

Wandering the hills of Alton at sunset

Catdaddy’s is a great place for a cold one. We were so fortunate to meet Alton’s town historian Don Huber and get a list of ‘don’t miss’ sites to see.

Catdaddy’s is a great place for a cold one. We were so fortunate to meet Alton’s town historian Don Huber and get a list of ‘don’t miss’ sites to see.

Musician Miles Davis was born here in Alton, IL

Musician Miles Davis was born here in Alton, IL

The remains of the first state prison in Illinois dating back to 1830. Civil war confederate soldiers were held at this prison.

The remains of the first state prison in Illinois dating back to 1830. Civil war confederate soldiers were held at this prison.

Charming brick homes and brick lined streets still remain in Alton.

Charming brick homes and brick lined streets still remain in Alton.

We bike around town and visit the Alton Cemetery to see the Elijah P. Lovejoy memorial. Lovejoy was a journalist who wrote passionately about abolishing slavery in 1833. He was consequently murdered by a mob of pro slavery Missourians in 1837

We bike around town and visit the Alton Cemetery to see the Elijah P. Lovejoy memorial. Lovejoy was a journalist who wrote passionately about abolishing slavery in 1833. He was consequently murdered by a mob of pro slavery Missourians in 1837

The monument to Elijah P. Lovejoy, journalist & editor, social reformer & minister

The monument to Elijah P. Lovejoy, journalist & editor, social reformer & minister

We leave our ‘bikes’ with the other ‘bikes’ (Harley riders love Fast Eddie’s)

We leave our ‘bikes’ with the other ‘bikes’ (Harley riders love Fast Eddie’s)

The world renowned Fast Eddie’s Bon Air. In 1921 Anheuser Busch opened this bar at 4th, Pearl & Broadway. Ten years later they sold to Sam Balaco who gave it to his son and 50 years later it was sold to Eddie Sholar. Eddie has quadrupled the size of the establishment from 80 chairs to over 400. Over 2,000 barrels of beer and thousands of cases of cans & bottles, not to mention liquor, are served yearly.

The world renowned Fast Eddie’s Bon Air. In 1921 Anheuser Busch opened this bar at 4th, Pearl & Broadway. Ten years later they sold to Sam Balaco who gave it to his son and 50 years later it was sold to Eddie Sholar. Eddie has quadrupled the size of the establishment from 80 chairs to over 400. Over 2,000 barrels of beer and thousands of cases of cans & bottles, not to mention liquor, are served yearly.

Frosty beers served in big, ice cold, chunky glasses at just one of the many bars in this huge place

Frosty beers served in big, ice cold, chunky glasses at just one of the many bars in this huge place

The ‘Bon Air’ area of Fast Eddie’s where you can eat, drink and enjoy live music. Great people watching too.

The ‘Bon Air’ area of Fast Eddie’s where you can eat, drink and enjoy live music. Great people watching too.

Back on the Mississippi River we get up to a four knot push, making this 144 nautical mile day bearable…

Back on the Mississippi River we get up to a four knot push, making this 144 nautical mile day bearable…

Had to get a picture in front of the St. Louis Arch (thank you Maggie)

Had to get a picture in front of the St. Louis Arch (thank you Maggie)

We turn off the Mississippi River and on to the Ohio River toward Paducah

We turn off the Mississippi River and on to the Ohio River toward Paducah

Our little stowaway from the Kaskaskia lock & dam was onboard for 24 hours then disappeared as mysteriously as he appeared.

Our little stowaway from the Kaskaskia lock & dam was onboard for 24 hours then disappeared as mysteriously as he appeared.

The Olmsted Lock and Dam. This lock & dam took 25 years to build (opening in 2018) and cost 3 billion dollars. It replaces locks 52 and 53 along the Ohio river. We were immediately allowed through and the lift is only eight feet.

The Olmsted Lock and Dam. This lock & dam took 25 years to build (opening in 2018) and cost 3 billion dollars. It replaces locks 52 and 53 along the Ohio river. We were immediately allowed through and the lift is only eight feet.

The sunrise from our anchorage on the Ohio River

The sunrise from our anchorage on the Ohio River

The Paducah City Marina on the Ohio River was just completed a few years ago

The Paducah City Marina on the Ohio River was just completed a few years ago

Sweet old buildings of Paducah

Sweet old buildings of Paducah

The Queen of the Mississippi is an overnight cruise boat that runs the waters of the Ohio River

The Queen of the Mississippi is an overnight cruise boat that runs the waters of the Ohio River

Meriwether Lewis & Williams Clark came by these shores on their westward journey to the Pacific Ocean and were greeted by many of the native american people living on this land. Evidently, Meriwether Lewis bought his Newfoundland dog, Seaman, for $25 dollars in 1803, but in 1827, Williams Clark paid only a $5.00 transfer fee for the land where Paducah and McCracken County now stand.

Meriwether Lewis & Williams Clark came by these shores on their westward journey to the Pacific Ocean and were greeted by many of the native american people living on this land. Evidently, Meriwether Lewis bought his Newfoundland dog, Seaman, for $25 dollars in 1803, but in 1827, Williams Clark paid only a $5.00 transfer fee for the land where Paducah and McCracken County now stand.

Autumn is on it’s way to Paducah. This cute guy is in front of a great bar called Shandies, where a great bartender name John works

Autumn is on it’s way to Paducah. This cute guy is in front of a great bar called Shandies, where a great bartender name John works

Charming old buildings on Broadway in Paducah

Charming old buildings on Broadway in Paducah

The old Columbia theatre on Broadway was built in 1926 by W. Earl Gore and went dark in 1987. The Columbia Theatre Restoration Project is trying to save this great landmark

The old Columbia theatre on Broadway was built in 1926 by W. Earl Gore and went dark in 1987. The Columbia Theatre Restoration Project is trying to save this great landmark

The ‘Wall to Wall’ murals are painted on the floods walls that protect the town. They take you through Paducah’s history from the time of the Native Americans, fur trading & fishing, the importance of the river to the economy of the town, civil war and locomotive history. Paducah was also a major long distance telephone switching hub (until 1979) and at the dawn of the atomic age entered the uranium enrichment program. The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant remains the nation’s only uranium enrichment facility and a global supplier of enriched uranium for electricity production.

The ‘Wall to Wall’ murals are painted on the floods walls that protect the town. They take you through Paducah’s history from the time of the Native Americans, fur trading & fishing, the importance of the river to the economy of the town, civil war and locomotive history. Paducah was also a major long distance telephone switching hub (until 1979) and at the dawn of the atomic age entered the uranium enrichment program. The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant remains the nation’s only uranium enrichment facility and a global supplier of enriched uranium for electricity production.

I particularly like this wall scene of a tug captain in his Pilot House pushing his tows

I particularly like this wall scene of a tug captain in his Pilot House pushing his tows

This panel portrays the events of the 1937 flood that devastated 90 percent of a thriving Paducah. It is one of the many panels painted on the flood walls that protect Paducah from the Ohio River. The wall cost eight million dollars and is twelve miles long and three feet above the 1937 flood levels.

This panel portrays the events of the 1937 flood that devastated 90 percent of a thriving Paducah. It is one of the many panels painted on the flood walls that protect Paducah from the Ohio River. The wall cost eight million dollars and is twelve miles long and three feet above the 1937 flood levels.

This marker on Broadway shows the 60.8 foot height of the 1937 flood waters

This marker on Broadway shows the 60.8 foot height of the 1937 flood waters

This town has seen a lot…

This town has seen a lot…

We visit our good friend Buck Bradley and share a little bit of his favorite Maker’s Mark Whiskey with him…like old times. We love and miss you Buck!

We visit our good friend Buck Bradley and share a little bit of his favorite Maker’s Mark Whiskey with him…like old times. We love and miss you Buck!

Leaving Paducah on the Ohio River you transfer over to the Cumberland River and 40 miles later you enter the very impressive Barkley Lock and Dam. We were lucky and the doors to lock opened just as we arrived.

Leaving Paducah on the Ohio River you transfer over to the Cumberland River and 40 miles later you enter the very impressive Barkley Lock and Dam. We were lucky and the doors to lock opened just as we arrived.

The massive Barkley Lock doors close and you are lifted quickly but smoothly up 57 feet

The massive Barkley Lock doors close and you are lifted quickly but smoothly up 57 feet

Where else would we end up but at the ‘Thirsty Turtle’ at Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers, KY. I love the names of their craft beers

Where else would we end up but at the ‘Thirsty Turtle’ at Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers, KY. I love the names of their craft beers