Thursday, April 19, 2007
"It is strange how little has been written about the Upper Mississippi. The river below St. Louis has been described time and again, and it is the least interesting part..........Along the Upper Mississippi every hour brings something new. There are crowds of odd islands, bluffs, prairies, hills, woods, and villages -- everything one could desire to amuse the children. Few people ever think of going there, however............We ignore the finest part of the Mississippi."
1866 Chicago Tribune interview
"You can't go down the Mississippi in a homemade raft. It's illegal"
Fire Official in St. Paul, Minnesota
April 16, 2007 Pioneer Press Interview
Taken together these two quotes -- separated by 141 years -- show the state of the world we live in today which is primarily one with much less freedom than the one Mr. Twain wrote about via his Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer characters.
The "fire official" quoted by the Pioneer Press was commenting on a news story this week that happened on the Upper Mississippi below the Robert Street Bridge in downtown St. Paul. A man carrying several bags of clothing, supplies, and a cooler was traveling down the Mississippi River on his homemade raft but was "intercepted" , not arrested, by police and sheriff's officials.
The fire official continued by noting that the man's homemade raft was a "danger to himself and other watercraft." Perhaps that was the case since the man was intercepted at dusk -- we have to assume from the details provided in this short article that the raft did not have proper lighting, reflectors, or a horn so I can see the potential danger posed to other watercraft. However, as a fan of the sense of adventure and exploration that Mr. Twain's books captured for all of us I must note this article provides a sobering glance at our modern, safety-first society.
Enjoy the ride,