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Chicago Illinois and the Maritime Museum

Chicago Illinois is on the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan. The Chicago Portage connects the Mississippi River and Great Lakes Watersheds. The city’s history and economy are closely tied to its proximity to Lake Michigan. While the Chicago River historically handled much of the region’s waterborne cargo, today’s lake carriers use Lake Calumet Harbor on the South Side. When founded in 1837, most of the early buildings were around the mouth of the Chicago River and the original 58 blocks.

The Loop is the City’s Central Business District but Chicago is also a City of Neighborhoods

Chicago River ferryThe Chicago waterfront comprises twenty-four public beaches across 26 miles (42 km); most of the city’s high-rise commercial and residential buildings are close to the waterfront.

The Great Chicago Fire led to the largest building boom in American history. In 1885, the first steel framed high-rise building signaled the start of the skyscraper era. The city became an important transportation hub between the eastern and western United States; the Illinois and Michigan Canal allowed Great Lakes sailing ships and steamboats to reach the Mississippi River.

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Chicago’s history and development stem from its axis at the foot of the Great Lakes. This strategic location gave the city access to the St Lawrence Seaway and the Atlantic Ocean as well as the rivers that lead to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. Chicago is one of the busiest ports in the world.

chicago riverThe Story of Chicago’s Waterways and their Impact on America’s Economy

The Chicago Maritime Museum collects items that commemorate Chicago’s maritime history.  More than 6,000 items have accumulated, including watercraft, models, articles, books, displays, art, images and artifacts.  The collection makes historic materials accessible to scholars or anyone seeking to understand Chicago’s unique historical connections.

Native American Watercraft Lifesaving Rescue Craft and Schooners

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Alexandria Minnesota and the Legacy of the Lakes Museum

The Village of Alexandria was settled in 1858 and named after brothers Alexander and William Kinkead from Maryland. The form of the name alludes to Alexandria, Egypt, a center of learning and civilization.

W.E. Hicks was pivotal to the early development of the town. He purchased the townsite in 1868 and established a mill, hotel, newspaper, and store. He donated property for a courthouse, jail, and two churches: Methodist and Congregational.

In 2013 Alexandria was picked as a Top 10 Best Small Town

Big_Ole the VikingAlex is a hot spot for tourism, due to its many lakes and resorts. Tourism events include a Grape Stomp hosted by the Carlos Creek Winery every September, an Apple Fest in October, the Douglas County Fair every August, and Art in the Park every July. The city has a museum housing the Kensington Runestone, which is thought by some to indicate that Vikings had visited the area in the 14th century. Outside the museum stands Big Ole, a 25-foot-tall statue of a Viking built for the World’s Fair in New York City.

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minnesota boat buildersThe Legacy of the Lakes Museum originally known as the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum, it promotes lake traditions and legacies as well as preserve Minnesota history.

The Legacy Gardens project was completed in the Fall of 2012; a second phase added plantings, walkways and structures. The Museum and Gardens play a significant role in completing a community dream of developing the north end of Broadway into a people-friendly destination.

The Boat House, an indoor event center, was added to the campus in 2018. This refurbished building has an indoor event hall, bathrooms, and bridal suite/greenroom. The space is available for rent for weddings, corporate events, family gatherings, and more. It is also a space for the Museum to host educational programs.

Minnesota is home to skilled watercraft builders since Native Americans first fashioned birch bark canoes hundreds of years ago. The museum boasts the most complete collection of Minnesota-made boats from Larson to our own Alexandria Boat Works.

wooden boatsWooden Boats few museums offer as wide a range of rare boats including Chris-Craft, Gar Wood, Century and Hacker Craft, as well as the ultimate collection of made-in-Minnesota craft.

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Dubuque Iowa National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

Dubuque is located along the Mississippi River at the junction of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. It serves as the main commercial, industrial, educational, and cultural center for the Tri-State Area. One of the few cities in Iowa with hills, it is also a tourist destination featuring unique architecture and river views.

A Center for Culture with Five Institutions of Higher Learning

History the first permanent settler was pioneer Julien Dubuque, who arrived in 1785 to mine the area’s rich lead deposits. After the lead resources were exhausted, Dubuque became a center for the timber industry because of its proximity to forests in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Other major businesses included boat building, brewing and railroads. Diamond Jo Line established a shipyard at Eagle Point in 1878. Industrial activity remained the mainstay of the economy until the 1980s followed by diversification away from heavy industry towards tourism, high-tech and publishing in the 1990s.

Dubuque Aerial ViewDowntown Dubuque is the center of the city’s transportation and commercial sectors, and functions as the hub to the various outlying districts and neighborhoods. An area of special note is the Port of Dubuque which has seen a massive amount of new investment and new construction. The downtown area includes significant buildings, many of which are historic, reflecting the city’s early and continuing importance to the region.

Old Cable Elevator Dubuque Iowa

 

 

 

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The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

 

Grand River Event CenterRiver Works Discovery® educates children and their families about the commerce, culture and conservation of the great rivers of America and their watersheds. An outreach program of the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium and the National Rivers Hall of Fame. Curriculum is designed to engage the learner and encourage further exploration of our rivers. This multi-disciplinary program focuses on math, history, geography and mapping.

riverworks discoveryMathias Ham Historic Site explore Dubuque’s rich history at our unique historic site. Owned and operated by the Dubuque County Historical Society and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this historic property includes the Mathias Ham House, Iowa’s oldest log cabin, the Humke Schoolhouse from Centralia, and a historic granary. Costumed interpreters provide guided tours of the site, sharing the rich history of Mathias Ham, the city of Dubuque, life on the Mississippi River, and life during the Victorian era.

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Alton Illinois and the National Great Rivers Museum

Alton is located 25 Miles north of St. Louis amid the confluence of three navigable rivers, the Mississippi, the Illinois and the Missouri, as a river trading and industrial town whose waterfront features concrete grain silos and railroad tracks for the shipping of grains and produce. Once the site of several brick factories, Alton’s streets are paved in brick along with many commercial buildings located downtown. The Great Rivers Region is accessible from six interstates, an international airport and an Amtrak station.

Alton IL Melvin Price LocksHistoric Trails Alton’s Civil War and Lincoln Legacy Trail features costumed docents at sites throughout the city revealing Alton’s legacy through personal tales along with the Underground Railroad, where runaway slaves were hidden in caves, barns and basements. The Alton Museum of History and Art has special exhibits relating to Alton’s connection to the Civil War era.

River Trails where great rivers converge with great moments in history at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Confluence Tower; learn how they planned their journey west. Hartford is at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and point of departure for Lewis and Clark. Elsah continuing up the Great River Road and marvel at the numerous buildings that still exist. Most of the houses and building in the village were built in the mid- to late 1800s.

The Entire Village of Elsah is listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Grafton RiverfrontGrafton’s riverfront was packed with manufacturing companies, mills, quarries, loading docks, and riverboat traffic in the 1800s. Today, it is a tourist destination with its specialty shops and wineries.

Architecture Trails many blocks of housing in Alton were built in the Victorian Queen Anne style during the prosperous period in the river city’s history at the top of the hill in the commercial area, several stone churches and city hall.

The Middletown Historic District was the center of wealth in the early days of Alton with homes reflecting the wealth of families and their descendants that led Alton society for more than a century. Brick sidewalks connect a park with a Victorian playhouse.

Alton IL Lewis Clark InterpretiveUpper Alton Historic District a cultural and educational center, Upper Alton was once a separate town anchored by a former military academy and the oldest continuously used educational buildings in Illinois.

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melvin price lock and damThe National Great Rivers Museum and Melvin Price Locks & Dam feature the importance of the river system to America’s economy from her grand history and cultural significance, to her ecological importance and role as a transportation corridor.

The Mississippi River, over 2,200 miles long, is the second longest river in the United States and the third largest river basin in the world, exceeded in size only by the Amazon and Congo basins. The central portion of the river is known as the Middle Mississippi, a 300-mile reach from Saverton, MO, to Cairo, IL. Further defining the Middle Mississippi are the confluences of three major tributaries, the Illinois, the Missouri and the Ohio Rivers.
Early snagboat on MississippiIn the early 19th century, great forests lined the narrow river’s banks of the Middle Mississippi. The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 marked the opening of the West, and river settlements began to grow. In 1817, the first steamboat arrived in St. Louis and the population soared. Steamboat arrivals had increased more than a thousand-fold by 1858, turning the river into a superhighway.
The timber resources lining the riverbanks were used to build rapidly expanding settlements and fuel the steamboat’s boilers. The riverbanks became less stable, the river-widened and trees impeded navigation, resulting in loss of life and vessels. In 1880, Congress directed the Corps of Engineers to correct, create and maintain a safe and dependable navigation channel.

Mark Twain put this effort in perspective: “The military engineers have taken upon their shoulders the job of making the Mississippi over again”

Wing dams Mississippi 1891The Corps of Engineers continually examines the biological impact of the navigational structures on the river’s ecosystem, balancing navigational needs with those of the environment.

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Kansas City and the Steamboat Arabia Museum

Kansas City was founded in the 1830s as a Missouri River port at its confluence with the Kansas River. Major suburbs include the Missouri cities of Independence and Lee’s Summit and the Kansas cities of Overland Park, Olathe and Kansas City. The city is composed of several neighborhoods, including the River Market District in the north, the 18th and Vine District in the east, and the County Club Plaza in the south. Kansas City is known for its long tradition of jazz music and culture; its cuisine features a distinctive style of barbecue and craft breweries.

River Market KCThe City Market bordering the Missouri River, contains one of the country’s largest and longest lasting farmers markets in the nation with several unique shops and restaurants. Steamboat Arabia Museum is right next to the City Market. Traveling by foot or bike, take the Town of Kansas Bridge connection to get to the Riverfront Heritage Trail which leads to Berkley Riverfront Park, which is operated by Port KC.

The Port of Kansas City is an inland port on the Missouri River in Kansas City, Missouri at river mile 367.1, near the confluence with the Kansas River. Kansas City is the second-largest rail hub and third-largest trucking hub in the country, is on marine highway M-70, which extends as far as Pittsburgh and intersects M-55 at St. Louis, allowing shipping to New Orleans, Chicago, Minneapolis and connections to major cities all over the eastern United States.

The Port of Kansas CityThe Missouri inland waterway allows for barge traffic as far upriver as Sioux City, Iowa, with most of the commercial traffic concentrated between Kansas City and St. Louis.

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Steamboat Arabia MuseumThe Arabia Steamboat Museum is a time capsule of life on the American frontier in the mid-nineteenth century and an opportunity to experience the everyday objects that made life possible for pioneers in the 1800s.  It contains the largest single collection of pre-Civil War artifacts in the world.

The Steamboat Arabia was one of many casualties of the perilous Missouri River.  The Mighty Missouri, as it was often called, is the longest river in the United States and has claimed nearly 400 other steamboats over its 2,500-mile course.  In September 1856, the Arabia was carrying over 200 tons of cargo intended for general stores and homes in 16 mid-western frontier towns.  The steamer was still fully loaded when it hit a tree snag and sank just 6 miles west of Kansas City.

Map of Missouri RiverThe Steamboat was built in the Pennsylvania boatyard of John S. Pringle in 1853 and logged thousands of miles on the Mississippi and Missouri River; in 1855, it traveled from the Missouri to the Yellowstone River in North Dakota.

The Story begins on the West bank of the Mississippi River in the bustling waterfront of St. Louis, Missouri. Here, in the year 1856, over 200 tons of winters supplies were loaded aboard the Arabia for delivery to the western frontier, nearly 1,000 dangerous miles up the mighty Missouri River.

Arabia sinkingThe Arabia was buried underground for over a century with its cargo, 45-feet beneath a Kansas cornfield; the payload was protected from light and oxygen and was thus remarkably well preserved. The cargo included fine China, carpentry tools, children’s toys and the world’s oldest pickles

The Arabia Steamboat Museum has been a popular Kansas City attraction for over 20 years.

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Memphis Tennessee and the Mississippi River Museum

Memphis is a city with a rich and eclectic history: Home of the Blues, Birthplace of Rock ’n’ Roll, BBQ Pork Capital of the World. Some of the city’s traditions and milestones include: Graceland, Home of Elvis Presley; the Memphis Zoo; the Indie Memphis Film Festival; Sun Studio; National Civil Rights Museum; the Memphis NBA Grizzlies; Stax Museum of American Soul Music; Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, Payne’s BBQ and Interstate BBQ; Beale Street; Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival.

History the city’s history began with the Native Americans who settled on the Fourth Chickasaw Bluff, then onto Hernando De Soto, the Civil War, yellow fever, the blues and rock ‘n’ roll music.
Cotton Row beginning around 1840 riverboats loaded with cotton lined the Memphis riverfront. Through the Civil War and by the turn of the century, Memphis was center stage and cotton was king. By some estimates, over 75% of the nation’s cotton came through the Bluff City. Front Street in Downtown Memphis was nicknamed “Cotton Row” and was the heart of the cotton trade and the center of the Memphis economy for over a century.

Memphis Accolades Infographic-RGBRelive the Days of Cotton Traders and How Cotton changed the History of a Nation

Culture Broadway shows at the historic Orpheum Theatre, and the city’s own professional resident theater. Memphis is also home to a nationally acclaimed professional ballet company, opera and symphony orchestra.

A display of Fine Art, history-making Music and a Celebration of American Heritage and Culture

beale street in the daytimeBeale Street when the blues migrated north from the Delta it found a permanent home in Memphis, and that home is alive and well today on Beale Street. Dance to the many bands and artists that perform in open-air Handy Park or spend a night sliding in and out of any number of nightclubs. Hit the district in May when the city jams with the annual Memphis in May Festival.

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Mud Island River Park by day, take the monorail, which boasts some of the city’s best views, over to the Mississippi River Museum, where you can check out genuine Civil War garb and gunboat reproductions. By night, catch a live performance at the Amphitheater with the Memphis skyline as your backdrop and the rolling river at your back.

hernando de soto bridgeThe Mississippi River Museum is comprised of 18 galleries that showcase 10,000 years of history in the Lower Mississippi River Valley.  The exhibits detail early inhabitants in the valley to modern day transportation and contain over 5,000 artifacts; including two full size boat replicas which you can board and explore.

Transportation four of the museum’s galleries trace the evolution of transportation on the river from the earliest canoes through the golden age of steamboats and finally to modern diesel towboats. The search for more efficient transportation and the economic impact of river transportation played a vital role in the development of trade routes and the growth of river cities. Examples of the museum’s collection in these galleries are: Boat Building Tools, Boat models including full scale Packet Boat, Cargo, Victorian Furniture, Pilothouse equipment, Towboat Pilot House,

MRM 1Engineering this exhibit details the engineering aspects of the river and the organizations created to maintain them. Example of the museum’s collection in this gallery are: Levee building tools, Sections of concrete and willow mattresses used to stabilize the river banks original bridge plans.

memphis queenThe Memphis Riverboat sightseeing cruises dock at beautiful Beale Street Landing and take you on a 10-mile round-trip voyage aboard the Memphis Queen III.

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Little Rock and the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum

Little Rock is a cultural, economic, government, and transportation center within Arkansas and the South located on the south bank of the Arkansas River in Central Arkansas. Fourche Creek and Rock Creek run through the city, and flow into the river.  

Pulaski County CourthouseThe name derives its name from a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River called the “Little Rock” (French: La Petite Roche). The Little Rock was used by early river traffic as a landmark and became a well-known river crossing.

The Metro Streetcar System, formerly the River Rail Electric Streetcar, is a 3.4-mile (5.5 km) heritage streetcar system that runs from the North Little Rock City Hall and throughout downtown Little Rock before crossing over to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library. The streetcar line has fourteen stops and a fleet of five cars with a daily ridership of around 350.

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The Port of Little Rock is an Intermodal River Port with a large Industrial Business Complex

hoga tugboatThe Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is located on North Shore Riverwalk Park along the shore of the Arkansas River in North Little Rock, Arkansas. It is home to two floating Naval vessels that bookend World War II: the tugboat Hoga, designated a National Historic Landmark and recognized for her efforts during the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941; and the submarine Razorback, which was in Tokyo Bay during the formal surrender of Japan, ending World War II. The museum features exhibits on the following Naval vessels: the submarine Razorback, the tugboat Hoga, the battleship Arkansas, and the guided missile cruiser Arkansas.

A Collection from the Arkansas River Historical Society features the History of the Arkansas River

AIMM_cubscoutpack408_2017Arkansas Vessels there have been five naval vessels, four named in the United States Navy and one in the Confederate States Navy. The first of the vessels was CSS Arkansas, an ironclad ship used by the Confederates. This Arkansas had the shortest life, serving less than a month before it was scuttled in Louisiana. The USS Arkansas was built in Pennsylvania and bought by the Union during the Civil War in 1863, two months before the Union occupation of Arkansas. The Monitor USS Monitor was one of the last monitors built for the United States Navy. Launched in 1900 and commissioned in 1902, it served many different roles while in the navy. The fourth vessel, and the longest serving vessel, was the dreadnought battleship USS Arkansas and second member of the Wyoming class in the United States Navy. It was commissioned in 1912 and served in both World Wars. The last of the USS Arkansas was a Virginia-class nuclear-propelled guided-missile cruiser. Its primary mission was defending aircraft carrier task forces from both the air and from below. The cruiser was decommissioned in 1998.

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