If you remember, last fall I took a Community Ed. class that was a series of lessons on our local history. A darker chapter in local events was the painful closing of the Red Wing Stoneware Company's factory back in 1967. I was around but not old enough to pay attention or care. As far as I know, none of our local relatives (there were many) were employed there so that if this subject came up around the supper table, it wasn't dwelt upon and managed to blow right past me. In our multi-week classes, we broached the subject but perusing this book in my library quickly got me curious enough to go back and revisit the events. The book had been in my grandmother's library and was inherited by me, seen around here but never invoking enough interest....until a week ago. Seeing the author's name contributed to my curiosity. We are friends of friends with the family that were major owners of the Potteries when the events took place.
Mentioned not long ago when it was ordered, The Driftless Reader is a collection of essays, excerpts, etc. spanning time concerning the geology, people, events and so on of the region which is just the way I've been going through it; front to back but in spurts, a few segments at a time.
Finally, my recent trip south found me driving along a route that my friends and I know well, namely roads in far SE Minnesota and County roads in Iowa that hug the river. Due to the topography of the areas that do run along the river, the many bluffs and subsequent valleys, rail service through the region has always been more of a challenge than roadways with their respective traffic, they more capable of handling the many elevation changes.
This one has been started and describes the rail line, goods hauled, the challenge of keeping the line open with the many floods and washouts that occurred over time. I'd have had this book long ago if only I'd have known about it.
Where those now abandoned railroads ran has always been fascinating to me. Narrow gauge early on, sometimes later expanded to the more modern standard, rail service was the primary and often only practical method of transporting goods; many railroads that once were are now long gone, many if not most unable to compete with trucking that was rapidly improving and more adaptable as the 20th Century progressed. Some of those abandoned lines are now 'honored' as recreational bicycle trails.
The Wye roadbed at Waukon Junction specifically is still easily seen from the highway and over the years has been passed both up river and down on our motorcycle trips. I've explored the gravel roads nearby and to the extent that I can without trespassing, have tried to be on the lookout for signs of the old line between the river (Waukon Jct) and the town 'up top' of Waukon. These historical topographic maps are available from the USGS and this version is the 1944 edition.
Note the snaking the line has to follow to stay along Paint Creek.
Broader view of the Mississippi River and Waukon up in the left corner.
So, always curious about the grain and goods that were shipped from up on the prairie down to the river, this book was noticed when I stopped at the Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center in Lansing, Iowa. I've ridden past so many times and never stopped, something remedied this past week.....I never should have waited so long. Don't make the same mistake!
As a map-lover, I really enjoyed this exhibit. You are the river and can navigate between the two states, right through the middle of the Driftless Area.
Buttons from clams were a major industry....
Pike's Peak State Park in Iowa was a stop, the parking lot auto count increased from 1 to 2 while I was there. Normally the lot is reasonably full.....Doug has been parked right here.
The cantilevered look-out....
The convergence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. The bluff across is Wisconsin's Wyalusing State Park, campsites right on the edge with an incredible view of both the Wisconsin and Mississippi valleys.
From Wyalusing looking across the Mississippi to Pike's Peak State Park bluff.
Back to a winter day, looking upriver again from Iowa....
Might just be my favorite town along the river, Guttenberg, Iowa. We've had pizza here, ice cream too though on this trip I had neither. This time just a quiet listen to the ice flows chuffing along, an eagle or two within sight fishing along the river.
And finally, what would a trip along the river at the MN/IA border be without a stop at New Albin, the City Market and a couple of pounds of pork jerky, the World's Finest Pork Jerky. If you know of any finer, send it to me for an unbiased critical though fair evaluation.
Hadn't seen Paul and Eric for a spell and because I needed an update on their recent snowmobiling trip in western Wyoming, a breakfast gathering was arranged. We had some snow overnight and with it, a major drop in temperature.
Alma our gathering point, Pier 4 our intended location for some chow but there was a sign on the door that forced down the street to the Alma Hotel. Breakfast was good and we shall return.
After we finished discussing trips past we moved on to upcoming explorations and their planning. A warm and comfortable place to discuss these important issues was enjoyed and then we headed in opposite directions for our homes. I crossed the river at Wabasha and stopped to watch (and listen) to the many eagles soaring, warming their wings in the morning sun and also those that were standing on the edge of the ice where Lake Pepin narrows back into a width resembling a river.
Recent ice conditions have made these folks very, very happy!
Some of this EXCELLENT pork jerky.....(might look tough but tender it is!)
was traded for this wonderful surprise from Eric. Thank you!!
This was properly fresh and warm when I got home, another one of Peg's mouthwatering loaves of sourdough.
Last but not least, some orange/raisin scone......
Food wraps up another blog Post, no ice cream this week even through I drove right past the place.