Canoeing the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers: Magnificent Beauty and Fantastic Adventures

Exploring a colossal, abandoned mine along the river's edge.
Exploring a colossal, abandoned mine along the river's edge.

In 1989, Russ and I canoed from Chillicothe, Ohio to New Orleans, LA. Russ is a treasured, lifelong friend and was a fantastic partner on this epic adventure The trip covered 1,550 miles and took 37 days.

We traveled through or along parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and, Louisiana.

We passed through Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville and Paducah, Kentucky, Evansville, Indiana, Memphis, Tennessee, Vicksburg and Natchez, Mississippi, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and, completed our journey in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Two barges traveling up river towards a dam/lock area as the sun sets.
Two barges traveling up river towards a dam/lock area as the sun sets.

We received press coverage in the newspaper in rural Ohio, were in the newspaper in Vicksburg, Mississippi and, were on television in the New Orleans area.

The trip took place long before digital cameras but we escaped with some great pictures nevertheless.

This hub conveys just a bit of the incredible natural beauty and fantastic adventures we experienced. I hope you like it!

A large bridge in the distance.
A large bridge in the distance.

We saw and passed under many huge bridges. We saw large, working industrial sites and those long abandoned. We saw nuclear power plants. We saw hundreds of river vessles including boats of all sizes, many barges and once in Baton Rouge, LA., we started seeing ocean liners.We explored abandoned vessels along the river and saw so much more of current and past human influence.

The natural beauty we experienced was mind boggling and really cannot be put into words. There were stretches of the river so remote; the only evidence of humanity you would see is an occasional barge pushing freight up or down river. There were many sand bars and islands in the middle of the river which made great places to camp. Camping on a large sandbar at night in the middle of the river---awesome!

If you look carefully in the middle of the picture you can see Russ setting up camp on a rocky ledge overlooking the river.  Wonderful!
If you look carefully in the middle of the picture you can see Russ setting up camp on a rocky ledge overlooking the river. Wonderful!

We saw caves, cliffs, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the moon and stars at night, etc. There were parts of the river well over a mile wide where you could barely see the other side.

We saw bald eagles, wild turkeys, many catfish, a beaver, an alligator and, much more.

Canoeing through a forest per high water.
Canoeing through a forest per high water.

The trip was made even more incredible due to high water. I remember canoeing past a few barns and through a number of forests. To be passing through a forest via canoe---awesome!

Cave in  Rock, Illinois with high water outside.
Cave in Rock, Illinois with high water outside.

We heard so many stories along the way. Most of the stories were true I feel though I'm sure a few were tall tales. I remember someone telling us about some huge gar (a type of fish) that use to come up to a boat ramp and that people would feed them. I remember a story about a barge car filled with grain that sank. Catfish fed on the grain over a period of several years and as a result there were a bunch of unusually large, fat catish in the area.

I recall a story about a boat captain's dead body being preserved upright in a kind of outhouse like shack. The top was made see through so he could peer out over the river. I think I recall seeing the little shack but his body had long since been removed.

Being on the river made me better understand the stories of Mark Twain and others. There is something about the Mississippi river especially that inspires one's mind and imagination.

One day, in the distance, we saw a small town sitting on top of a very high ridge. It was at a point where the river took a rather sharp turn to the right. The ridge was hundreds of feet above the river.

We got out to explore for reasons I cannot recall. We climbed the cliffs to enter the town and discovered something most strange. The town was completely empty of people! There were a number of houses and several businesses but not a soul to be seen or heard. It was not a really old ghost town like you might see out west but rather it looked like it had been abandoned in the 40s or 50s.

It was so creepy walking around; we even walked in the middle of the road right through the middle of town. We felt as if we were being watched. We could hear little noises like the blowing of this or the creaking of that. This was definitely one of the weirder experiences we had.

Sitting on a large tree floating down the river
Sitting on a large tree floating down the river

Doing some research later in Baton Rouge we believed the ghost town was a place called Pointe Coupee (in Louisiana). However, many years later, I am not convinced of this. One theory I have is that per the sharp turn of the river and corresponding erosion of the cliffs upon which the town stood that it thus had to be abandoned.  Perhaps the town was some kind of a festival or celebration site to be opened up only once or twice a year? If any reader knows what this place might have been please let me know. To this day it is a mystery.

After a while we descended from the high cliffs back to our canoe. We continued a little ways down river until we found a place to camp for the night.

Our Canoe.  We modified it with outriggers after a bad accident in Cairo, Illinois
Our Canoe. We modified it with outriggers after a bad accident in Cairo, Illinois

Well, there is so much more to tell but that seems enough for now. We did eventually make it to New Orleans and the rest is history! Best wishes!

More by this Author


Comments 7 comments

Missing Link profile image

Missing Link 2 years ago from Oregon Author

Hello Redtaxxidriver,

I do not recall the exact distance but if you look carefully at the pictures it should give you a good idea. Here is a link to another hub I created on this topic. At the bottom of that hub is an excellent picture of the outriggers.

See here:

http://hubpages.com/education/The-Hazards-of-Canoe...

Thanks for visiting!


Redtaxxidriver 2 years ago

Just wondering how far apart were outriggers? Thanks


Missing Link profile image

Missing Link 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Au Fait,

it is none of those---it is such a mystery. my theory back then is it had been abandoned cause it was being severely undercut by erosion and being high on a bank overlooking the river people were afraid it would collapse downward.

My current theory is it is actually a small theme town meant for festivals that happen from time to time---like people go there a few times a year for some type of festival or gathering---I just don't know.

It was so creepy though walking around the town---it did not look totally dilapidated as you might imagine.

Thanks much!


Missing Link profile image

Missing Link 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Au Fait,

The trip was awesome, incredible, amazing---you are correct! I will research the link you provide and will comment again within the next few days. Thanks much!


Missing Link profile image

Missing Link 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Peggy,

Thanks! Yes there was a Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn connection. Well we do have a journal and we always did plan to write a book. My canoeing partner still plans to write a book but so many years have gone by. Thanks much!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

This sounds like you had quite an adventure of a lifetime! That abandoned town you described would be a bit creepy. You must have been influenced by books such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn when you were young, I am guessing. Perhaps you should write a book of your own! Up votes and sharing.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas

What an amazing experience this must have been for you as a young man! Very much enjoyed reading about it and now I, too, am wondering why that town on the ridge was deserted.

I Googled the information you list here about the town and got several possibilities, but since I don't have an exact location I can't be sure if any are the town you described. Here is a list of the things that Google came up with: http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sugexp=les%3B&gs_nf=1...

Just copy and paste the above into your browser and maybe you can tell if any of them make sense.

Voted you up, interesting, and awesome! It must have been a great adventure for you and your friend! Will share with my followers.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working