Missouri River, Nebraska, USA


Artist Susan Knight and Deborah Murphy in Omaha, Nebraska.

A perfect Nebraska spring day – 70 degrees, blue skies partially obscured by light cloud cover. Susan Knight and I headed down to Dodge Park on the Missouri River, north of downtown Omaha to dip a piece of 100% cotton fabric, measuring 36″ x 18″, into the “Muddy Mo”. Nebraska and Iowa had experienced some horrific weather the previous week, which included tornados, hail, torrential rain and flash flooding. I knew the river was running fast and high after a visit to the park two weeks earlier, but didn’t know the dock area had been flooded. City crews were cleaning up the deluge of dried mud which was caked on the parking lot, sidewalks and river bank. Susan and I walked down to a dock that paralleled the river, we put the fabric into the Missouri. We watched it flow as we held it in the strong current . . . a current which didn’t allow the fabric to float flat. The force of moving water scrunched it to a piece measuring a few inches in width. The fabric did pick up the characteristic muddiness of the river, but no other stains were discernible to the eye. We were both surprised that we didn’t see more floating debris, as in the way of huge branches or trees, due to flooding upstream. No sand bars were visible – no wildlife sighted. — Deborah Murphy.

Mississippi River, Missouri, USA

20223925-Kathy's_Visit-16Four childhood friends Kathleen Tracy, Billie Simpson, Carole Foekhrobe, and Marilyn Catalp visit the St. Louis Bridge.

The St. Louis Bridge, a massive structure, was completed in 1874 at a cost of over $10,000,000. It consists of three spans, the center one being 520 feet long, and the other two 500 feet each. The piers upon which these spans rest are built of limestone carried down to bed rock. The main passage for the accommodation of pedestrians is 54 feet wide, and below this are two lines of rails. The merchant’s bridge, 3 miles N., was completed in 1890 at a cost of $3,000,000. The latter is used exclusively for railroad traffic.
Eads, James Buchanan (1820-1887), a celebrated American engineer. He was born at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, May 23, 1820. He died at Nassau, Bahama Islands, March 8, 1887. Perhaps no other American engineer has been connected with more notable enterprises. In young manhood he won a reputation by devising some barges for raising sunken steamers. In 1861, at the call of the Federal government, he constructed eight ironclad steamers inside of one hundred days. He also built other gunboats and mortar boats, all of use in opening up the Mississippi and its tributaries. In 1867-74 he built the famous Eads Bridge across the Mississippi at St. Louis. It is a mammoth steel arch structure of three spans, resting on stone pillars sent down to bed rock far below the bottom of a treacherous river. It cost $6,500,000. The last great work with which he was connected was the improvement of the mouth of the Mississippi. He designed the system of willow mattresses and stonework by which the water was confined to a narrow passage through which it scoured a deep channel.

Mississippi River, Louisiana, USA


This project was carried out, in Crescent city of New Orleans, by six sisters who were born and raised in New Orleans: Suzanne Talbot Isaacs, Judith Talbot Heumann*, Mary Jane Talbot LeRouge, Constance Talbot Compagno, Kathleen Talbot Lore, Marlen Talbot Erwin.
*The stick was named for Judith Talbot Heumann who was at the time at M.D.Anderson with her husband who was being diagnosed while we were dipping the cloth.

Mississippi River at the Crescent City of New Orleans, Louisiana on February 2, 2008 at 12:34 p.m. this cloth was dipped in the Mississippi River on the east bank, at a site five leagues upriver from New Orleans in Kenner, LA. On February 3, it was dipped again about two leagues downriver from the French Quarter on the west bank in Algiers, across the river from the Chalmette Battlefield where the British were defeated by troops led by Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans, the last battle of the War of 1812.
The poem below was written by our maternal grandmother at the turn of the 20th century. She was a remarkable woman who did not let her blindness, which resulted from an accident at the age of three, stop her from doing a great many things.

Who Owns the River?

The river belongs to the nation.
The levee, they say, to the state.
The government runs navigation.
The commonwealth, though, pays the freight.

Now here is the problem that’s heavy —
Which is the right or the wrong?
When the water runs over the levee,
To whom does the river belong?

It’s the government’s river in summer
When the stage of the water is low.
But in spring when it gets on a hummer
And starts o’r the levee to flow,

When the river gets suddenly dippy,
The state must dig down in its tlll
And push back the old Mississippi,
Away from the farm and the hill.

I know very little of lawing.
I’ve made little study of courts.
I’ve done little giving and hawing
Through verdicts, opinions, reports;

Why need there be anything more said
When the river starts levees to climb?
If the government owns the aforesaid
It must own it all of the time.

— Mary Irene Duplan Haden Murray

Wonalancet River, New Hampshire, USA


Diana Beliard and Diann Smith hike a trail along one of the many waterways that fill the Wonalancet River, clear water from the White Mountains that runs over endless granite boulders.