Trouble in River City: Kevin Klinkenberg on Why So Many Communities Are Struggling
The Mississippi Valley Traveler Podcast
by Dean Klinkenberg
6d ago
If you’re like me, as you’ve driven along the Mississippi River, or even around the country, you’ve noticed communities that aren’t doing too well. Many of these are older urban areas, but I see plenty of small towns struggling, too. What’s going on? Isn’t this just the free market at work? To dig into this issue, I invited my brother, Kevin Klinkenberg, onto the podcast. Kevin is an architect and planner who has spent much of his career working to improve communities. In this episode, we talk about what makes cities and towns good places to live. Kevin describes the traditional way that citie ..read more
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Introducing The Wild Mississippi: Your Guide to Understanding and Experiencing the Natural World of Old Man River
The Mississippi Valley Traveler Podcast
by Dean Klinkenberg
3w ago
For years, I’ve been visiting the places along the Mississippi and writing guidebooks about the history and culture of the towns and people. Now I’ve got something new to add to the list: a guide to the natural history of the river itself. In my new book, The Wild Mississippi: A State-by-State Guide to the River’s Natural Wonders, I describe the complex and varied world of the Mississippi River and offer practical tips about how to experience the river’s world. In this episode, just ahead of the book’s formal release on May 21, I talk about The Wild Mississippi, so you know what to expect from ..read more
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The Fight for the Upper Mississippi: Steven Marking on Will Dilg and the Birth of a Refuge
The Mississippi Valley Traveler Podcast
by Dean Klinkenberg
1M ago
In 1924, Will Dilg and the newly formed Izaak Walton League of America fought the proposed drainage of the lush Winneshiek Bottoms near Lansing, Iowa by lobbying for the creation of a new, unprecedented-in-scope federal refuge. In less than a year, they succeeded, and the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge was born. This year, events throughout the upper Mississippi mark its centennial. Will Dilg was probably more responsible for the success than anyone else. He was one founder of the Izaak Walton League and intimately familiar with the channels and islands of the upper ..read more
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Flowing with Creativity: Sculptor Florence Bird and the Mississippi River
The Mississippi Valley Traveler Podcast
by Dean Klinkenberg
2M ago
The Mississippi River has inspired artists of many stripes, including Prairie du Chien-based sculptor Florence Bird. In this episode, I talk with Bird about her path into a career as a professional artist, how she found inspiration from the Mississippi, and the details of how she goes from idea to a life-sized bronze statue. Bird is enthusiastic about her art and the Mississippi and was an absolute delight to interview. I start this episode with a brief review of the history of the area that Bird finds so inspiring. In the Mississippi Minute, it’s spring! But it’s also very early for spring, e ..read more
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Eclipse 2024: Getting the Most from the Experience in Missouri and Illinois
The Mississippi Valley Traveler Podcast
by Dean Klinkenberg
2M ago
On April 8, 2024, a full solar eclipse will make is way across North America from Texas to the Northeast. It’ll cross the Mississippi River south of St. Louis. Much of southeast Missouri and all of southern Illinois will be in the path of totality, with some places experiencing the eclipse for just over four minutes, including Trail of Tears State Park just north of Cape Girardeau. Many of these places were in the path of another total eclipse just 7 years ago.  In this episode, I talked with Alison Dubbert from Missouri State Parks and Cory Jobe from Great Rivers and Routes in Alton, Ill ..read more
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Ripples Through Time: River Travelers Take Us to the Mississippi’s Past and Present
The Mississippi Valley Traveler Podcast
by Dean Klinkenberg
3M ago
In The Log of the Easy Way, John Mathews wrote about a honeymoon trip he and his wife took in 1900. No, they didn’t relax at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica; they traveled a couple thousand miles down the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers in a homemade shantyboat.  Their book is just one of many written by people who have taken a long trip on the Mississippi, from Charles Lanman’s trip in 1841 straight to shantyboat travelers like Mathews and on to the present and the many books from long-distance paddlers on the Mississippi.  In this episode, I offer a few impressions about what ..read more
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Steering Through the Currents: Lee Hendrix's Life Working on the Mississippi River
The Mississippi Valley Traveler Podcast
by Dean Klinkenberg
3M ago
What’s it like to work on a riverboat? Lee Hendrix entered riverboat work in 1972 as a deckhand, worked his way up to mate, then into the pilothouse. He has spent most of his adult life as a pilot of riverboats big and small, from tows pushing barges to elegant overnight cruise ships.  In his new book, Peep Light: Stories of a Mississippi River Boat Captain, Lee shares stories from those years on the river. In this interview, we talk about how he got his start working on the river, the grueling but satisfying work of a deckhand, and the jobs on a towboat. We also discuss his path to the p ..read more
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The River Life: Five Women Discuss Their Paths and Passions as Mississippi River Guides
The Mississippi Valley Traveler Podcast
by Dean Klinkenberg
5M ago
Men have dominated the world of outdoor adventuring and guiding for so long, that it’s easy to overlook the increasing presence of women in all spheres. More women now complete long-distance paddles on the Mississippi, as well as through hikes on the major trails. The world of guided paddling on the Mississippi reflects the trend. In this episode, I talk with five women who worked this past season as river guides on the Mississippi for one of the outfitters or river-focused organizations. I asked each to talk about their paths to guiding, to describe their stretch of the Mississippi, and to sp ..read more
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The Storm that Took the Midwest by Surprise: Armistice Day's Deadly Blizzard
The Mississippi Valley Traveler Podcast
by Dean Klinkenberg
5M ago
It’s easy to take weather forecasting for granted, especially given the difficulties with producing accurate forecasts, but at least we almost never get surprised by big storms. That wasn’t true in 1940, when an unusually warm November day turned deadly. In this episode, I tell the story of the Armistice Day Blizzard, a massive storm that plowed through the central part of the United States, shutting down cities and killing around 200 people. Thousands of people scrambled for makeshift shelter in downtown Minneapolis, while rural families took in hundreds of school children when buses got stuc ..read more
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Understanding the True Costs and Real Risks of Levees with Nicholas Pinter
The Mississippi Valley Traveler Podcast
by Dean Klinkenberg
5M ago
Drive anywhere along the Mississippi or most any other river and you’ll see a levee, an earthen wall that parallels the river to keep water in the main channel and out of the adjacent floodplain. In this episode, I talk with Nicholas Pinter about levees and the good and bad that has come with them. We discuss the evolution in responsibility from local jurisdictions to the federal government, how levees have altered the ecology of big rivers, and who pays for them. We talk about how levees provide a false sense of security and the concept of residual risk, which is one way to quantify how much ..read more
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