Mississippi River Center

We had not planned a trip but were just driving toward the river and enjoying river sights, when we saw a sign (brown) to the Mississippi River Information center. AS usual they give you one sign and then they just disappear, why do they do that? I guess they know where they are going and you are suppose to also …. DU!

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From this sign I guess this location was the original site of Fort Armstrong, now it is Lock & Dam 15.

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We were lucky that when we arrived there was a river tugs with 15 barges just going through the lock. This one has a load of coal. The lock can only handle 15 barges and the tug at one time. This one actual had 21 barges, so they had to push 6 in, disconnect, back out and wait for the lock to move the 6 to the other side. This can take as long as 2 hours to complete the passage of all the barges and the tug.


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If you look close you can see smoke rising from the barge just in front of the 350 sign. Peg asked the deckhand and was told the the coal is hot when it is dumped into the barge and sometime it starts burning like a charcoal fire. He told the captian and he was told not to worry …. go figure. If you see in paper a barge on fire you’ll know why.


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A deck hand coiling a morning houser.

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It is finally under way with all barges attached.

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We actually had to come back the next day for the tour, and we were in luck they had to rotate the bridge to let a pleasure craft thru.

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This bridge is a little unique, in addition to the roadway, it also has a railroad tract on the upper deck. Here river and barge traffic have priority over train traffic.

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That little wheel just behind the railing is what turns the whole thing

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We were standing under the bridge as it swung back into place.

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You sure had the urge to duck

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Because the train track has to line up perfectly, we do not want a train falling on us, it has these roller to raise it up to the proper height. I sure would not like to be responsible for that alignment.

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All back in place

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Can you believe the number of roller this thing has?

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Down stream side of the lock


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There it is bridge all back in proper place.

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This is really a special dam, it is the largest roller dam in the world.

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They can roll each  up and down on those teeth.

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Notice how the water looks like it is boiling up. There is a concrete wall on the outlet to prevent the water from digging a big hole in the bottom of the river.

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A close look at the gear

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Our tour group

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I’ll bet that train engineer is glad the the bridge can align so well.

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As we were leaving another set of barges were loaded to  the lock to head down river. Notice they fit 3 abreast. The barge closest to us is empty and riding much higher that the one next to it that is loaded.  Very interesting day.