Locks, Dams, Barges, Bridges, and Bluffs...CannonTour - Wisconsin's West Coast

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, Oct 5, 2006.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    This is the Alma, WI lock and dam. A fishing float is nearby.
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    Alma is long and narrow. It is two streets wide but has few cross streets because of the steep bluff. Instead of cross streets they have a lot of stair cases. The town was started by two guys that cut wood for steam boats. Eventually, they got a brewery and a couple of cigar makers.
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    Coming down the bluff from above Alma.
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    Near Alma.
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    Tundra swans migrate down the river and stack up in a rest area (slough) near Alma every fall. Big birds. Neat to see.

    Much of this region up and down the river is part of a refuge.
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    Any Little House on the Prairie Fans? I didn't think so . . .
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    Some of you folks that ride the river road might recognize this open air bar/restaurant. Open air is not a good concept for much of the year in Wisconsin . . . But, it is a popular place seasonally.
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    Speaking of bars, how about a floating bar built on a barge?
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    A woman jumped off this bluff.
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    Marital trouble.
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    #41
  2. VIVID1

    VIVID1 Ducatistanna

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    Nice report!

    It's the Rock in the House in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placeName w:st="on">Fountain</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType w:st="on">City</st1:placeType></st1:place> not to be confused with the House on a Rock near Spring Green, also in Wisconsin :D
    #42
  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Scenic ride.
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    These rustic roads are usually worth the side trip . . .
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    Lake Pepin is really just a wide spot in the river. It is also the place where water skiing ws invented. Where the Chippewa River flows into the Mississippi there was a natural dam formed by the silt.
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    Since the current is slow in this impoundment, it takes a long time for the ice to go out in the spring. In fact, this is the limiting factor for opening the river for barge traffic to St Paul, MN. The Corps goes out and measures the ice until they determine a barge can finally break through.

    Many years ago when logging was huge up the Chippewa River, they used to just dump all their waste into the river. A lot of this was mountains of sawdust. In fact, when they drill or dredge at the mouth of the Chippewa, they find that some of the delta/sandbar is made up of sawdust.

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    Seems like there are always barges being shuffled about.
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    The poles are to allow the boathouse to float up and down (in place) as the water level changes. Gives you an idea of how high it gets.
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    You see a few of these running up and down the river.
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    Houseboats are popular. At night you just push in to a beach on an island and relax.
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    In fact, there are only a few restrictions on camping along the river. Basically you can just set up on a beach on an island out in the river.
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    Lake Pepin holds a lot of fish. At certain times of the year, certain species move out of the lake and up the river until they are stopped by the dam. Incredible fishing in the tailwaters where the fish stack up . . .
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    #43
  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    You hardly ever see a sailboat on the river, but since Lake Pepin is so wide and deep (and the 2-3 mph current is minimized) sailboats are very popular around Lake City, MN.
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    #44
  5. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Ol' Cannon is pretty popular up in Minnesota . . .

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    #45
  6. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Back down the Minnesota side to Wabasha, MN (the setting for the movie Grumpy Old Men).
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    They have an eagle center down there. The place is overun with eagles I guess.
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    Stuff to know about eagles . . .
    (By the way I watched an eagle snatch a fish down river a little ways but didn't get a picture.)
    They can see prey from two miles away.
    Because of the use of DDT they were well on their way to extinction in the 1960s. They have made a fantastic come back since.
    Some eagles stay all year round while others migrate. All they need is open water (below dams) for food.
    Watching an immature eagle try to hunt healthy ducks is a riot. Watching a mature eagle take your crippled duck before you do during a duck hunt is not as much of a riot. They have learned to come out and watch you hunt and fish to see what turns up for them.
    They can have an 8' wingspan and weight up to 14 lbs.
    Up until last December I thought I was packin' some cool because I saw lots of eagles. Once I saw 14 mature eagles all sitting in two adjacent trees working the river. Last December we had a very cold spell that froze up all but little pockets in the river. The pockets were filled with migrating ducks and geese. Outside Buffalo City we counted more than 80 eagles either standing on the ice by the pockets or sitting in trees - just within our ability to see out as we travelled along the river. No doubt most of these birds were migrating just ahead of the ice.
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    An eagle's nest can be built in four days. It can be 6' across and 4-10' high. It is built up high, near water, with an easy approach. Eagles mate for life. Where I hunt there are 3-4 eagles nests that are active and are used year after year. One other one came down when the supporting tree failed. If you look under the tree of an active nest you will find turtle shells, bones, etc of whatever they are eating.
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    Wabasha City Hall building - 1894.
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    Intermodal containers. Saved railroads in the US.
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    During summer, indians would live in villages along the river. As winter came on, they would split into family groups and move into the coulees for shelter and game.
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    #46
  7. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Winona, MN Home of Winona State University. Since the town is along the river it is much longer than it is wide. This shot looks back across the river to Wisconsin.
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    This town has a colorful history once you dig into it a little bit. Maybe that is typical for river towns though. . .
    Looking back up the river from a bluff above Winona.
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    Near Winona there are some islands that have a whole raft of people who live on floating houses tied to the islands. They are grandfathered structures - can't start anything new like this. Cheap way to live.
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    #47
  8. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Lansing, IA
    Old metal grate bridge.
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    Road to a bluff top park.
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    Railroad spikes. 100 lbs per pail.
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    Auto train . . .
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    Dredge sand is somewhat rounded (from rolling along the river bottom) so it doesn't have the sharp edges needed to compact as well as some other sand.
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    Spider production facility.
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    #48
  9. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Gives a whole new meaning to "water front property".... :thumb

    :lurk
    #49
  10. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Effigy mounds are widespread throughout the midwest. Most have been lost to development or have been overgrown.
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    Although a lot is known about effigy mound construction and contents, little is known about what the whole story is. Local indians did not know about them so they must have been put in before their time. Obviously they are made to be seen from above. They are often in the shape of animals.
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    Seen from the ground they are less remarkable.
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    Mcgregor, IA riverboat gambling.
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    #50
  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Back to Wisconsin and up the Wisconsin River toward home.
    Good riding along the Wisconsin River.
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    The scenery is similar but the bluffs are not as high.
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    Blackhawk War markers.
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    Harvest time in Wisconsin.
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    The Wisconsin river has hydroelectric dams. I think most of these came about to power paper mills. Even so, with a relatively small flow they still get a lot of juice. Right now the Mississippi River is flowing at about 16,000 cubic feet per second. There is a lot of water going through those dams. One would think we could have gotten a lot of power from them.

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    What would be a river trip without at least one ferry ride?
    Here is the free WI DOT ferry on the Wisconsin River at Merrimac.
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    Time to go home. Thanks for riding along.
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    #51
  12. Bimble

    Bimble In giro in moto

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    Cannonshot, your photos and narrative are fantastic. Good job well done. The bridges at sunset are truly remarkable. And I've heard of the Effigy Mounds but I had no idea what they are let alone what they appear as form the air! Holy archeological mysteries! And no, the shapes don't show up in Google Earth! :lol3

    Again, fantastic. Especially when read with the Lake Michigan trip and the Superior trip you and Chad took. (gads, how'd I miss reading that before today!)

    :thumb
    #52
  13. bthebert

    bthebert Been here awhile

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    Another great trip report, Bryan. Thanks for sharing, and for the e-mailed "heads-up".

    But shouldn't there be at least one (token) picture of a BIKE in there somewhere? :wink:

    I think I saw a hint of your windscreen in one pic . . .

    I envy the copious amounts of time you're able to devote to riding. Me? Not so much. Commuting every day, plus a quick weekend to VT and a day-trip in Eastern CT is all.

    Photographed a few dirtbike events (two Turkey Runs and a Hare Scramble), plus another Turkey Run coming up on Sunday.

    AHL hockey is almost underway. Hartford's home opener is tomorrow night. That'll keep me busy till Spring.

    Best,

    Bill
    #53
  14. 2whlrcr

    2whlrcr gooligan

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    Excellent report Bryan and your history knowledge of Dubuque, is probably more than the people who live here. No phone call or email though, I'm hurt.:wink:

    E.M. is where the girlfriend and I consummated our relationship.:D But don't tell here I said so.:wink:

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    #54
  15. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Sorry Mike,
    I thought about touching base but it was going to be a short mid-day in and out visit. In the end I lingered longer than I planned visiting different spots around town. The museum was great but I need to visit it again when I have more time to really soak it all in. If you are interested, I'd like to join up for a ride around the driftless area (inland). I know some great roads and I know you do too. Probably next season though.

    I guess that Effigy Mounds really is sacred ground . . .:evil
    #55
  16. 2whlrcr

    2whlrcr gooligan

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    Next year is fine. Things are going to wind down pretty fast around here for road riding.
    #56
  17. Twin headlight Ernie

    Twin headlight Ernie Custom fabricated dual sport accessories

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    Nice ride report and pictures. By the way I know the area you traveled very well. The picture of the rock in the house is in Fountain City. The guy that owns the house had that rock roll into it one day. He left it there and charges to see it. There is a tourist attraction in Spring green called "The house on the rock". Well this is "The rock in the house". It's a dream of mine to buy a old pontoon boat and put some tiedown points on it and take a pair of KLR's on a river exploration trip. It would be great to go explore all the little river towns on the mighty Mississippi. Ernie
    #57
  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Ern,

    I swung past your place on my way through. Had to check on the Dresbach dredge pile . . .

    I noticed a fancy new underpass at the Dresbach landing! I don't hang in pool 7 much anymore, but if I did I would sure appreciate the improvements there.
    #58
  19. judjonzz

    judjonzz Beastly

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    Brian, great report. The river is a regular riding corridor for us living in the Twin Cities, partly because it is an interesting ride in itself, but also because it leads to so much more in the coulees and tributaries. I thought i knew it pretty well, and there is a lot that is familiar, but I learned a heckuva lot from your report.
    #59
  20. SGrider

    SGrider I give up

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    Nice report, hopefully if everything works out I can get out and ride some of those areas this weekend.:super
    #60