• Roberta Rathert

How Can It Be?

It’s a busy river. I am at my early sandbar island camp and traffic keeps me from boredom. First, a couple hundred pelicans are walking aimlessly around on a nearby sandbar disconnected from mine.  Plenty of Mayflies have used me for perch.  A few extra-large fish quickly rise and curve back under with a loud splash. I feel the startle and some anticipatory hesitance about carp slapping me out of my kayak tomorrow. Eagles glide over but keep going. They know better than to grab at a carp.


At the same time, a 30-barge tow lumbered ponderously through right in front of me.  I watched it round two downstream bends, do the straightaway in front, and then a turn to the upbound side finished off my view of it.  By now, its wake rolled in sounding like a big dog lapping too much from his oversized water bowl. Very soon after came a mighty-sized single tow that looked like a sea-going ship. I don’t know why it was going and couldn’t think of any inland purpose it had for pushing upriver. 


I just pulled over to make camp when this traffic passed. I assembled my camp chair in anticipation of more march-past, and I was not disappointed. About seven tows have come by so far.  When I glanced left this last time, a single-barge tow was emerging from the downbound turn to the north heading toward the ruler-straight section passing me.  I watched carefully because it looked conspicuous. I couldn’t figure it out. As it advanced, I thought it was a small apartment building set upright on a barge marked by unusual tallness for riding about on the river. But as it passed, I realized I was wrong. These were the four immense gates that were removed from Lock and Dam #8 Genoa last week. Here I am, sitting at a random camp at random time 78 miles to the south, watching the gates from home go to a final rest far from where they operated for over 100 years.  How can this be, so many things and time aligning so I can see them twice as they end the work they’ve done?

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Check out the news coverage that aired this week with WXOW and how we are changing course with this new phase of Paddling for Hope. A special thank you to Dustin Luecke for your continued coverage and

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