Friday, June 24, 2016



We are parked for a month in the Geneseo Campground a few miles north of the small city of Geneseo IL. The RV park is located on the north bank of the Hennepin Canal,  completed in 1907 for barge traffic between the Illinois River and the Mississippi River near Rock Island. It was built by and operated by the Corps of Engineers.  Its operation was cut back to 2 days per week in 1948 and finally closed by the COE in 1951.  From its opening, parts had been used for recreation.The State of Illinois bought it in 1970 for use as a state park. The doors of many of the locks have been removed, but a few remain. 

Water to feed the canal, originally named the Illinois and Mississippi Canal for the names of the rivers it connected,  comes from a 29 mile long feeder canal which comes from the Sinnissippi Lake at Sterling IL built for that purpose, diverting water from the Rock River.  The feeder canal empties into the Hennepin Canal at its highest elevation so the feeder water flows both toward the Illinois River (a drop of 196 ft.) and the Mississippi River (a drop of about 40 ft.) . There were a total of 33 locks on the canal,  a few  as little as a half mille apart on the east side. Note the similarity to the Panama Canal built  later – its highest point is in the middle. Some of the construction techniques and materials used in building this canal were copied in building the Panama Canal. 

Although the canal reduced the barge distance from Chicago to Rock Island from 607 miles to 188 miles, it was not a commercial success. In its best year 30,000 tons were carried over it  - 1/600th of its maximum planned capacity.



A narrow gauge railroad bed used for construction of the canal has become a 62 mile paved path beside the canal  for hikers, bicyclists,  fishermen, snowmobilers, skiers and equestrians. Boats with up to 10 hp are allowed on the canal, but with the few remaining unmanned locks and uncontrolled aquatic growth, kayaks and canoes are more practical. Above is one of the remaining locks, not in service. The quantity of water coming through proves that there is a sluggish flow of water down the canal, sometimes not readily apparent. This lock, no. 24, is about a mile upstream from our RV park, so it makes a nice walk to get there from our RV.




Lock chambers were 35 by 135 ft.The doors on the downstream side of this lock are permanently opened. A county highway is close to this lock and a small park is next to it for parking for folks using the canal for recreation. Below shows some of the mechanism to open and close the lower doors.  




A mile  walk down the canal from our RV park takes one to the place where the Hennepin Canal passes over Geneseo Creek, a tributary of the Green River on an aqueduct.  The Green River meandered across the route for the canal, so part of the Green was rerouted in a manmade river bed. In a few places the canal adopted the old bed of the Green River.

Below is the aqueduct for the canal to pass over the tributary. There  were a total of 9 aqueducts to pass over waterways. Seven remain.





I took this shot standing on the path beside the aqueduct looking across the canal down into the brownish water in Geneseo Creek.




This is the downstream side of the creek going under the aqueduct.




In the part of the canal along which I have walked are a few homes with docks on the canal.



Here is one of the very large cottonwoods  growing along the canal path. The  diameter of the trunk of this one is about 5 feet!






We parked for a week at Sunrise RV park not far from Geneseo. In walking through the park, I spied this unit. We had a 1966 VW Westphalia camper, like this one, from 1966 until 1972 when it no longer could accommodate our growing children. We had the attaching tent for ours, too. This one had an accessory air conditioning unit to be put in place when setting up camp. We wished we  had one a few times!





Ours did not have the accessory roof top carriers, but it did have the  kind of rising top shown here. I talked to the owner about his VW. He told me that the engine was modified to put out twice the horsepower of mine and the gear ratios were modified accordingly.

One does not often see a 50 year old RV still in service!


On June 20 the “Cooper Girls”  group  had an afternoon ride on the Mississippi River in what many call a cigarette boat. It is powered by two 350 hp Chevrolet engines.

Briefly to explain, Jo and her sisters, Arla and Barbara, were known as the Cooper Girls when growing up in Moline Il. Barbara’s son Brian lives in Moline. He took Arla, Jo, Barbara, Mike Williams and me on a ride on the Mississippi River in his boat in the 10 mile pool  between dams 14 and 15 on the Mississippi. The boat gets up on a plane at about 35 mph and will go as high as 70 mph. Fortunately the water was calm on our ride so Brian could demonstrate its speed.




We gathered at Brian's home where he had the boat trailer hooked up to his pickup all ready to go.




After launching, Brian first took us up river to  dam 14 shown here (right) near Le Claire Iowa and Port Byron IL.

Fever is the name of the model of the boat made by Fountain.




This is the wake of the boat as it is moving well over 60 mph.




Here are Mike Williams, Arla Olson, Barbara Williams, her dog Boomer and Jo.



Our skipper, Brian, at the controls. All of the gauges and controls are necessary on this twin-engined  boat.  I was surprised to learn that the speedometer relies on data from GPS satellites  to compute its speed.



Mike, Boomer, I and Arla also rode in the back seat for a while, leaving Jo and Barbara to share a front seat.



The downstream part of our ride took up past the General’s home at the Rock Island Arsenal.   It is the next to largest home owned by the U S government, second only to the White House. The commander of the Arsenal and his family actually live there.




At the left is dam 15 and at the right is the skyline of Davenport Iowa.




Brian took us onto this canal on the Iowa side of the river to show us a development of homes with piers  giving boating access to the Mississippi.

He skillfully maneuvered the boat to turn around in the narrow canal with one engine in forward and the other in reverse.


It was a great day for a boat ride

Tuesday, June 14, 2016



On May 31 daughter Christine and I rented a two person kayak to paddle 5.5 miles down the Weeki Wachee River in central Florida. Below is a sketch of the part of the river we paddled.






As she is the experienced kayaker, she took the back seat and I had the front, needing to paddle only to avoid obstacles. She gave me the green  waterproof container shown below  to carry my smart phone to take pictures through a plastic covering.  I found that my old Canon A1100 IS digital camera would fit in the container, so I elected to carry it there.


Here we are at the launching point, with paddles in hand and our gear all loaded on the kayak.




The river is fed from a flowing spring and flows less that 10 miles to the Gulf.  The white bottom is nicely packed sand, with the darker area being small plants growing on the bottom.



The water is placid the whole way.  We took the trip on a weekday, but there still were quite a few others in kayaks and canoes. Most had the wisdom to go downstream, but we encountered a few paddling against the current.



This and the rest of the shots are from Christine's smart phone camera.  I must confess that I took my Canon out of the waterproof container and twisted to get a picture of other kayakers. My weight shift caused the our kayak to turn over.  My camera could not be salvaged, but the pictures on the memory card were ok.




Here we are recovering from the upset. Christine was able to catch up with the gear on board as it slowly floated down the river.

I was glad that I was wearing the floatation device. We dried off quickly.




Here is the best picture of one of the two manatees we saw. Both had scars on their backs from boat propellers.



Above and below are shots at the takeout point at Rogers Park. 2  1/2 miles further the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico.







Near the entrance to the kayak outfitter's place of business are statues of mermaids. The Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaid show is staged there three times a day on weekdays and 4 times on weekends.