Ascending The Mississippi
( Originally Published 1900 )
Westward from Lake Michigan all the railroads are laid across the prairie land en route to various cities on the Mississippi River, several of them having St. Paul and Minneapolis for their objective points, although some go by quite roundabout ways. The great "Father of Waters" comes from Northern Minnesota, flows over the Falls of St. Anthony at Minneapolis, and is a. river of much scenic attractiveness down to Dubuque and Rock Island, its width being usually about three thousand feet, excepting at the bends, which are wider, the picturesque bluffs encasing the valley sometimes rising six hundred feet high. The railways leading to it traverse the monotonous level of prairie in Illinois and Wisconsin, excepting where a stream may make a gorge, and the face of the country is everywhere almost the same. The Moline Rapids in the Mississippi above Rock Island afford good water-power, and here the Government, owning the island, has established a large arsenal, which is the base for all the western army supplies. The admirable location has made cities on either bank, Rock Island in Illinois and Davenport in Iowa, both being commercial and manufacturing centres, and the latter city having the larger population, The Mississippi flows through rather wide valley, with pleasant shores, having villas dotted on their slopes. The Moline Rapids, which are said to have a water-power rivalling the aggregate of all the cataracts in New England, descend twenty-two feet in a distance of fourteen miles. Above them, the river flows between Illinois and Iowa, and various flourishing towns are passed, the largest being Dubuque, with fifty thousand people, the chief industrial city of Iowa, and a centre of the lead and zinc manufacture of the Galena district. This was the first settlement made by white men in Iowa, the city being named for Julien Dubuque, a French trader, who came in 1788 with a small party to work the lead-mines. Iowa is known as the " Hawkeye State," and its name is of Dakotan Indian derivation, meaning "drowsy,",, which, however, is hardly the proper basis for naming such a wide-awake Commonwealth. Opposite Dubuque is the northern boundary of Illinois, and above, the Mississippi separates Iowa from Wisconsin.
The Mississippi bordering bluffs now rise much higher and become more picturesque, Eagle Point, near Dubuque, being elevated three hundred feet. Prairie du Chien, just above the mouth of Wisconsin River, was one of the earliest French military posts. This region was the scene of the "Black Hawk War," that chief of the Sacs battling to get back certain lands which in 1832 had been ceded by the Sac and Fox Indians to the United States. He was finally defeated back of the western river shore, the boundary between Iowa and Minnesota being nearby.
Minnesota is the " North Star State," and its India name, taken from the river, flowing into the Mississippi above St. Paul, means the " cloudy water. The river scenery becomes more and more picturesque as the Mississippi is ascended, the bluffs rising to higher elevations. La Crosse is a great lumber manufacturing town, drawing its timber from both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Above, where islands dot the channel, is perhaps the most beautiful section of the river. Trempealeau Island, five hundred feet high, commands a magnificent view, and the Black River flows in through' a splendid gorge. Winona is a prominent grain-shipping town, and at Wabasha the river expands into the beautiful Lake Pepin, thirty miles long and from three to five miles wide, with attractive shores and many popular re-sorts. Over the lake rise the bold round headland of Point No Point on one side and the Maiden Rock on the other. St. Croix River flows in above on the eastern bank, making an enlargement known as St. Croix Lake, and the upper Mississippi is now wholly within Minnesota, having here at the head of navigation the famous " Twin Cities" of St. Paul and Minneapolis.