Monday, March 30, 2009
Last night's storm iced The Hill to bootlace-height. The snow is a wet, melting one; the ground is still defrosted from the few days of nice and our newest precip. has been melting since it landed. A forecast of 4-9inches would have been very accurate if the first few hours had an opportunity to accumulate.
....It was enough to make the glades brilliant. The forest above and below them, too! Oakwood was slick, and a pair of vehicles was parked on the bottom. My wheels spun like last December's ice storm... I started to regret the climb when I hit a slow, bumpy curve only half-way up- but I got to the top with a bed full of wet ice. A single pair of tire tracks marked the road-
I slipped onto the glades from behind the pool and did a short circle around the two finest openings- The ground was soggy, and I never found any serious ice. Soon it was the trees that took my attention- they'd been beautiful and crystal-like before and now they rained slush-balls.
I explored around some of the old mine deposits- small bits of lustrous sphalerite were everywhere. Miners called this "Rosin Jack" and relied on it after the depletion of richer Smithsonite ores. Smithsonite was not too hard to find either- "turkey fat" was the name given to the bright yellow, bubbly, fatty-looking zinc crystals. One excellent vein runs down the wall of a bus-sized boulder up-hill of the largest mill.
We used a different route- hit the Lost Valley area of the Buffalo River by way of hwy 74 and Boxley.
The campgrounds filled up quick; we claimed the last spot and tried to tune-out the noisy neighbors for the night. The stars were awesome! I made three exposures pointed north; at 5.6, a forty-minute photo was far too bright. This one was made in only twenty.
On day II mom explored more of the Buffalo. I was dropped off on the top of the hill- almost three miles north of Ponca. Here was shown to be a trio of old lead mines. They date back to the turn of the last century and I knew nothing about them except for where they were supposed to be on the map.
Last time I sought the mines I started by showing the map to the woman who runs Ponca's general store. I was not the only one who'd asked he about the map- lifted from a privately published guide from the 60's- she warned me of the mines and refused to tell me about them.
I walked for an hour- found some cool stone foundations for building and such- Spotted a possible mound about 2.4miles from town... a "tailings-pile" is the heap of waste-material from a mining operation. When I wondered back into the woods- not far from the road- I found galena, quartz in the many piles of discarded material. the heavy, metallic galena crystals were as large as my camera battery and the crystals and fossils were numerous- The mine's tailing's and the only deep shaft I found occupied me until mid-afternoon- My backpack was stuffed with pounds of lead-crystals and I strolled down the highway. Orange Puccoon coloured the dry areas along the road, and bright verbena was in some places, too.
HWY 74- crossing the buffalo near Ponca, ARK
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
It was in 1804 that the area's first non-indian settler, Pierre Chouteau of the Chouteau Fur Trading family helped take Osage chiefs to meet President Jefferson. The President promised to build the Natives a trading post which, thanks to Chouteau, was erected in '08 and named Fort Clark, after William Clark, who noted the area in 1804:
Clark was also the head of Indian Affairs when the Fort was named. The Fort was one of the first U.S. military installations in the Louisiana Purchase and served as a stopover and trading post for river-travelers and the Osage indians. FOr the military, the post meant regulating trade and was a method of establishing peace (and control) with the Osage people.
Independence and McCoy's "Westport" went on to compete with each other (and later St. Joe and LEavenworth) for the area's trade dominance. McCoy's trading post dominated because of it's strategic location only four-miles south of the missouri at it's confluence with the Kaw- then known as 'the Great Bend." The GReat Bend marked the eastern-most point of the river's southern stretch. This allowed merchandise to be floated almost 20-miles upstream (west) of the existing western stop on the Santa-Fe Trail- Independence.
Travelers began skipping the established trading posts to take advantage of Westport's 20-mile advantage and McCoy's business founded modern-day Kansas City.
Sibley passed and the community which he created claimed township under the name Sibley, Missouri. It remained a relatively quiet place as the Civil war ripped border towns like Westport, Leavenworth and Lawrence; Jackson County remained almost entirely pro-south until the Union ended Confederate military operations of the area in '64 (The Battle of Westport)...
1969 meant the opening of the Missouri's first Bridge, located in McCoy's City of Kansas (Lawrence also wanted the Bridge). The Hannibal allowed for railroad travel from the north- thus triggering a great bloom of population and industry (primarily cattle) for the City.
Almost twenty booming years later, and a year after the Hannibal was partly destroyed by a tornado, Sibley got its own fine railroad bridge- The three-span bridge has existed there- just miles upstream of the busy Fishing river since.
KC's Hannibal Bridge was replaced by a two-level bridge after the turn of the century- The Second Hannibal Bridge opened in 1917 and was replaced again by the Broadway Bridge. Bridge #2 had a top deck just for vehicles!
The foundations of Fort Sibley were re-discovered only sixty years ago and it has since been rebuilt to model the Fort as it appeared in 1812. Fort Osage is a National Historic Landmark which hosts many demonstrations of the 18-teen's lifestyles for public audiences and often is the only thing for which the modern 1-square mile village of Sibley is known..
Cooley Lake conservation Area is mile-marker 339.5 on the Missouri- only about 4 miles upstream of Sibley and the Sibley railroad bridge... .
The bridge itself is certainly worth of the paddle, but today I was after the relics of Ft Osage on the HUGE ISLAND SANDBAR that the bridge supports. Only about a quarter-mile downstream of the Fort are the first signs of the island when the river is as low as it is today(7 ft.) I have been lucky enough to find things like trade beads and wet stones on the sandbar, as well as the fossils and bones that are to be found on the entire length of the river.
There is an SUV in the water- only a few yards from the Cooley boat ramp. The thing has been there at least a year and is still sinking; today only about 8 inches of it stood above the waterline. The eight inches have kept the tan paint well- at least in those places that are not torn with bullet and shot holes. The marks have occurred only since the SUV was abandon; the CA is a hot spot for illegal target practice. The river-buoy which float about a hundred yards from the shore are also graffitied with holes.
The Suv is only half-way between the ramp and another Cooley-landmark: The boat. This small runabout has been upside-down and underwater for much longer-
The bend here at Cooley Lake is in a constant state of change- it's small sandbars and levees will be in a different- grown, shrunk and in a different place: Always, though, there will be one or two spots here, in between the new debris, that one could find a bison tooth.
Early-season 70's make the float warm and peaceful. The wind was picking up, but I stuck to the left bank to escape any gusts. I floated past another busted boat and a few appliances- Spotted a good section of the pipe that was used to create the trash-slide-thing for Jeff City's clean up.
A Missouri River mile-marker; It was low and overgrown- Blue?- hardly visible from down on the water. I spotted it as I cruised past, but had to inspect- made a hard sprint back upstream and climbed the rip-rap up to where I knew it was.
MM 338- an old Blue sign much larger than the functioning ones. This one was nailed to a wood post only about three feet off the ground- also covered in the holes of bullets shot from the river.
DOES ANYONE KNOW ABOUT THE OLD BLUE MM SIGNS???
I took a photo and ripped the vines off of the faded 338. The sign popped off the post; a moment of guilt! I'd never seen one like this before, and now it was dead.
The post was rotten and the nails had no chance- I leaned the sign against it and returned to the boat- I felt guilty for killing the only sign like it- another mark of history here on the river. I was tempted to take it- It was already dead, right?
I started to launch the boat- the cold water inside had turned warm in the sun.
With the sign strapped to the back of my 9' boat I was back on the water- It is only three feet wide, but my kayak was not even two.
I forgot about the wind and traveled to the middle of the channel; the sign hanging from both sides (and the back) of the boat acted like wings!
It was not going to leave the boat- tied with the strong nylon that secures the boat to the top of any vehicle- but it certainly made the boat a bit more vulnerable to a strong side-gust!
I pointed the nose into the wind and the wind gave another push- I worked to get back to the bank that was protected by trees and the straps howled and buzzed like they would on the hwy. Off balance- the nose scooted just an inch to the right and the wind had me!
It whipped around and I was off to the wrong shore. I paddled backwards- lucky to be upright!?
The wind died within only a few seconds to a more manageable speed and long enough for me to slide back into my safe-zone!
Only two miles to the sandbar! The sun baked my shirt- it felt so nice to have the sun back from winter! I took my shirt off and basked for the last stretch of the day's float. The stolen sign made a convenient addition to the back of the skinny kayak- I laid back and felt the river and the sun and breeze.
It is really spring!
More of the sandbar was exposed than Ive ever seen! Much of the new land was gooey mud, but dry gravel was everywhere!
I pulled my things onto the middle of the island- far upstream of the bridge. Today, about two-thirds of the island was upstream of the Sibley bridge- it's length exceeded a half-mile! I crawled towards the bridge- immediately I found pottery and bones. Most of the pottery was of the Fort's era- some cool Indian stuff and lots of crock-lookin' pitchers and jars.
Lots of glass here- jars, bottles and everything else! One small bottle- about the size of a cassette tape and only twice as thick- Reads:
By far the best finds of the day were a very mineralized Bison's jaw and teeth and a piece of green slag glass that had been polished almost completely round by the river- I found a matching piece of glass that was not as polished.
I paddled upstream- over several bouts of rapids and fast water entering and exiting a pair of large box dikes- The sun was low and any shade felt especially cool on my toasty shoulders!
The sign limited the length of a paddles stroke- ended it about six inches short- and hopping the shallow rapids of the river pouring into slow areas was much more difficult than it should have been.
The wind was to my back when I fought the current to cross the river. Sibley's only boat ramp was directly across the strong river from the place where I popped out of the box dike- my mom stood behind her huge dog to watch me loose.
Still, I hit the ramp's shore only a few yards downstream and the last few minutes were easy!
The boat was especially heavy when I lifted it- Ma' helped me carry it to the top of the ramp and empty all of my treasures... Everyday could be this nice!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
There is a dump on the Osage river, only miles from it's confluence with the Missouri in Jeff City- it is one that has certainly not escaped the attention of the River Relief. With well over a half-century's crap flowing down the poor hill over the river, it seemed that treasure-hunting was what kept the majority of our 160-someodd volunteers bagging what they could. The most coveted finds of the day included An old steel toy pick-up, a bucket of antique glass and a mangled, shot, mutilated sign reading:
$50.00 Reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person found willingly mutilating this sign
From the MRR blog
Volunteers pulled over 13 tons of 'trash' from three separate sites along this section of the osage on Saturday.
Filling two 30-yard dumpsters of scrap metal and one 30-yard dumpster of landfill, we found (at least):
106 large bags of Landfill Trash
4 32-gallon trash cans of Broken Glass
210 Car & Truck Tires2 large Tractor Tires
2 Tractor Inner Tubes
9 Washing Machines
3 Hot Water Heaters
1 mangled Bicycle
......1Car Fender6 large pieces of Styrofoam20 ft. of Corrugated Pipe42 ft. of misc. Pipe1 Cooler7 5-gallon plastic Buckets6 metal Buckets1 cast iron Pot3 Stoves1 Stove Front & Drawer2 Stove Tops & Pieces1 massive Brake Drum1 metal Love Seat Swing11 Box Springs1 Head Board4 Cow PanelsSeveral rolls of Barbed Wire25 ft. of Cable Wire8 Rolls of Fencing7 Chairs1 Lamp1 Toilet1 MO 98 Road Sign2” Copper fitting (Steam)1 Hog Waterer3 metal Hub Cap’s1 Fender from Antique Truck½ of a Car front end Grill & Headlight1 Alternator1 Crank Shaft1 Car Seat Springs2 Tail Pipes1 Drive Shaft2 pieces of Carpet8 pieces of roofing Sheet Metal½ of a Pasture Gate1 double Kitchen Sink1 Counter Top1 boat full of assorted Wire & Fencing1 ancient Boat Motor1 coil of Heavy Cable1 Sewing Machine1 Culvert1 Tractor Gear Box1 Air Filter for tractor1 mini Ironing Board1 Hide-a-Bed Frame8 welded Wire Hog Panels1 cast iron Furnace Grate1 Brush Hog Deck30 corrugated Metal Panels1 VCR1 push Lawnmower1 antique French Fry Cutter1 Snoopy Soap Dish2 sections of a toy Train Track1 headless Raccoon Statue2 Teapots2 Wash Tubs1 toy metal Dump Truck1 See Saw1 Baseball Glove
1 shot-up Sign that reads: “$50 Reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of any person or persons found willfully mutilating or destroying this sign. The O.J. Gude Co. NY”
1 toy Cash Register
1 soggy book titled “Shaping History”The letter “C”
1 decorative Perfume Bottle ...And this thing; a giant trash shoot cut from materials that floated ashore on the Missouri at Alligator cove, near KC. River Relifers cut the mega-tubes in half and nailed them to the side of the hill so that trash from the largest, steepest dump could be expressed to the boats without all of the busted ankles. We sent dozens of huge trash barrels full of scrap and trash down every hour- the barrels were emptied and recycled back to the top while their contents were sorted, bagged and sent back to the ramp via boats. Genius!
It worked very well; no accidents and several tonnes of trash GONE! The thing was the center of attention throughout the day and even served as a nasty, surprising fast ski-run when paired with the lid of a trash barrel. Congrats RR!
Friday, March 6, 2009
Wow! How sore are your calf muscles after so many hours on a good sandbar?
Only one set of footprints had reached as low as I had- I'm sure that their owner collected may wonderful things!