Exploring the Mississippi


Trips were always a treat, and a trip down the river to Hannibal, Missouri, the hometown of Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and the Mark Twain Cave was extra special.

Jack, Dad, Dick - August 1936 - Mom, Dick, Jack



Bob, Esther, Mom - Labor Day, 1943

The End of Winter

    Lake Cooper would often times freeze over completely in the winter.  Vehicles would even dare at times to venture onto this forbidden world.  Many sporting and adventuresome activities were the rule of the day.  In the early spring the pressures of the River would heave against the surface of ice. This rotting ice would eventually break up and create large piles of chunk ice.  The force created by this great weight of ice could have disastrous effects as it began to flow downriver.  The City of Nauvoo ferry boat was not pulled from the river one winter and met its fate.


June 1947 Flood Over DikePictures by Mildred Mills from a boat.

Mississippi River over its banks - June 1947

    After the ice breakup, the annual flooding of the River below the dam would begin.  This was an event that was looked forward to by the youth of the community and tolerated by the adults.  It demonstrated the awesome power that flowed by at our doorstep.  During a flood, exploration of the River bottoms ceased in respect to the dangers of rushing waters that could sweep away roadways, trees, and boats.

    All would pass, the River would return to its banks, and the summer would invite exploration of the new world left behind.  Half sunk rowboats were fair game to be recovered from where the River had tossed them, and used to pole across the sloughs and backwaters on a hot and sultry day. 

More Flood Pictures

1951     1952

The Dam and Flooding

    You may wonder why the dam would not prevent the flooding.  The purpose of this dam was primarily to create a controlled drop in the water through the powerhouse to produce electricity.  An additional benefit was the elimination of the rapids that imperiled river boating.  The pool formed above the dam, known as Lake Cooper, was to be maintained at a near constant level to prevent additional flooding of that area, (much had already disappeared beneath the surface), so excess waters had to be passed freely over the spillways.

More About the Construction of the Dam and Powerhouse

From the Hamilton Press

The Hamilton Yards - Union Electric

Down by the River.
Fallen tree & risen tower - young explorers

(To be continued...)

And It's Creeks and Glens

Ledges of Cedar Glen.          Peter and Bob - Fall 1951

Cedar Glen

(To be continued)

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