Thinking About Rivers.

Tuesday September 28th 2021

There were a few more clouds today, but otherwise it was a nice day. The mid eighties temperature of the last few days continued. It was a little more humid and there was no breeze. So far it hasn’t cooled down as fast this evening.

In my wandering around the area, I found a nice boat launch area on one of the dam created lakes on the Tennessee River. There was a lot of recreational boat traffic. It is hard to believe that there might also be commercial traffic on the river. The Army Corp of Engineers and later the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) built and maintain dams and locks to support navigation from the Knoxville TN area where the river forms all the way to where it empties into the Ohio River in Kentucky. The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway was also created to connect the Tennessee River to the Tombigbee River in Mississippi. This allowed traffic from the Tennessee River to reach the Gulf of Mexico via Mobile Bay. I was camped along the Tenn-Tom Waterway earlier in the month at Piney Grove Corp of Engineer Campground.

One of the things that has surprised me on my travels is the extent of America’s river system. I knew about the major river systems on the Continent from the various geography courses I took during my education, but the extent of their use and all of the other smaller river systems is the surprise. The Mississippi River is navigable from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. I knew the Ohio and Missouri Rivers were major tributaries, but the role of the Tennessee and Arkansas rivers were things I learned more recently. I’ve also learned there is a connection to the Mississippi River from the Lake Michigan in the Chicago area, but it may only be usable by shallow draft and low vertical clearance vessels. Either way, it opens up access from the St. Lawrence Seaway emptying into the
Atlantic near Newfoundland. I’m not sure how far the Arkansas river is navigable, but it is at least as far as the major cities in Oklahoma. Out on the west coast the Columbia and Snake Rivers are the surprising ones. Traffic can reach areas of Oregon, Washington and Idaho from the Pacific Ocean.

The other major waterways are the Intercoastal routes along the eastern seaboard and the Gulf Coast. They allow smaller commercial craft and recreational vessels to travel from the Philadelphia area in the northeast all the way to Brownsville Texas near the Mexican boarder without having to face the open sea in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Some sources define Boston as the northeast start and exclude the west side of Florida from the definition of the Intercoastal waterways, but either way it is a lot of protected navigable waterway.

All of the nations rivers represent another interesting way of travel. I know there are some people that transition from RVs to boats and the other way around too. I am not going to be one of them. The issues of navigating the roads solo are hard enough. A boat needs at least one more person on the crew.

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