Friday, 10 June 2011

On the Mississippi in Baton Rouge

I've been on the Mississippi twice in a month. A few weeks back when the floodwaters were trashing Memphis and this last week, where I have spent time around Baton Rouge with those same floodwaters now receding slowly. They were starting to roll up the tiger dams but the water is still high. Just north of the port on the west bank, the waters still lap into the parkland.

Putting the orange and white tiger dams away as the waters recede
I don't know if the barge-trains stopped when the flood waters were at their highest, but they are moving again this week. Long, flat, deep pans of coal, gravel, grain being propelled through the grey muddy water by vast, squat tugs.

I see no pleasure boats and at the port authority they confirm they are not encouraged. The river is simply too busy and too dangerous for small, light craft. Baton Rouge takes Panamax ships - up to 80,000dwt - and the barge trains create significant wake across the width of the river. It's no place for little boats. I wondered how many leisure boats would be on the British canals if the waterways had adapted to larger cargo vessels down the years. Probably very few.

Tugs attend a swift-moving ship heading downstream on the Mississippi at Baton Rouge
Not sure whether I was more excited by getting out on the mighty river, or sitting near Iggy Pop on the plane back from Miami last night. Trouble is you don't want to disturb him. He's a bit scary!

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