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Iowa Water Trails Association 
July, 2013  
Steamboats Destroy Etiquette on Mississippi Water Trail
Jul 6-13 Project AWARE
Jul 13 River Critters & Wildlife Presentation & Optional Paddle, Cedar River WT, Waverly
Jul 13--Aug 20 Middle River WT Events, Madison County
Jul 20 "Amazing Mollusks! Freshwater Mussels," Lake Red Rock
Aug 3 Freshwater Mussels Paddle, Iowa River WT, Iowa City, Johnson County
Aug 4 Tri-P-A Triathlon With a Twist, Turkey River WT
Aug 10 River Critters & Wildlife Paddle, Iowa River WT, Louisa County
Aug 17 "Cruisin' for Critters" on the West Nishnabotna River WT
Aug 17 Great Iowa River Canoe & Kayak Race, Iowa City
Aug 17 Poker Run on Cedar River WT, Cedar Falls/Waterloo
Aug 17 Webster County Adventure Race, Brushy Creek State Recreation Area
Aug 17 Floatzilla '13, Quad Cities
Campaign to Clean Up Behavior on Upper Iowa River
IRR Master River Steward Classes in Cedar River Watershed Jul 24--Aug 28; Register Now
IDNR Reminds That High River & Streams Warrant Caution
REPORT: Jun 15 Tree Town Adventure Race, Forest City on Winnebago River WT
REPORT: Jun 17 Pioneer Potteries on Lower Des Moines River WT, Bonaparte
REPORT: Jun 22 Night Life Paddle, Odessa WT, Louisa County
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What Is It? Quiz Answer
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Iowa Rivers Revival, Protector of Rivers, Streams & Watersheds
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Charles City Overview
Rescheduled Charles City Challenge: WhiteWater Weekend was finally held June 28-30

Our thoughts are with all of you, as you navigate your scheduled WT activities and events through the mood swings of Mother Nature.  Kind of difficult to find mussels when the river is at flood stage, isn't it?
Our challenge is to keep folks informed without overloading their email in-boxes, so we're relying on a combination of occasional updates and lots of encouragement to check the event website or call ahead before traveling any great distance.
With your assistance, we'll do our best to encourage participation in your event, whether it's on schedule or rescheduled.
Let's hope that July is the month that Iowa's rivers return to normal levels, the birds eat all the gnats, and we can really enjoy our growing network of WTs.
Where Is It? Quiz
Des Moines River Valley Leland Searles


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What Is It? Quiz
Wapsi Crib Dam Closeup GStark
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What Water Trail Means: Steamboats Arrive on the Mississippi "Water Trail"
Wicked River Book Lee Sandlin

"The first steamboat came down the Mississippi in 1811--in fact, it was swamped and almost sank in the backwash of the Great Shakes (editor--a series of earthquakes near New Madrid, one of   which caused surface waves making the river appear to run upstream). By the end of that decade, around a dozen steamboats were on the river system.  In the 1830s, the steamboat population was estimated to be around five hundred. By the time of the Civil War, it was four thousand.


"There was a simple explanation for the ascendancy of the steamboats: they could move upriver almost as easily as they did down.  This gave them a decisive advantage over every other form of river transport.  They rendered the old, ornate, impractical keelboats obsolete--no need for bushwhacking or cordelling when the steamboats could churn their way up against the strongest current.  Keelboats disappeared from the river by the 1840s.  By the 1850s, even the flatboat population was in decline. The only serious competition the steamboats had left was the great rafts and barges--they survived because the steamboats didn't have their bulk carrying capacity.


"The rise of the steamboats also wrecked the old river etiquette. The river had never been policed, but there had always been a logic to its traffic flow, one dictated by practical necessity: the downriver traffic ran in the channels, while the upriver traffic stuck to the shallows.  The steamboats put an end to all that.  They cut in and out of the channels no matter which direction they were traveling.  Their pilots were notoriously indifferent to the chaos they could leave in their wake.  The steamboats routinely swamped the smaller boats as they passed; often they ran right over them and blasted them to splinters.  And if the boat people were injured or drowned, if their boats were destroyed and all their possessions were sunk, there was no recourse.  It wasn't uncommon for the boat people, when they saw a steamboat approaching--particularly one with a reputation as a channel hog--to bring out their rifles and take shots at the pilothouse."


Excerpt from the book "Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild," by Lee Sandlin, Vintage Books, pp 114-115. 


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Jul 6-13 Project AWARE, Des Moines River Between Algona and Lehigh
Project AWARE Logo 2012  

Media Contact: Lynette Seigley at 319-335-1598 or


Volunteers will have an opportunity to spend July 6 to 13 working as aquatic garbage collectors - cleaning up, learning about, and exploring more than 90 miles of the Des Moines River between Algona and Lehigh in north-central Iowa.


Project AWARE (A Watershed Awareness River Expedition) is the DNR's annual volunteer river cleanup event. In addition to removing trash from the river, volunteers will learn about watersheds, water quality, recycling and other natural resource topics.


"We're excited to embark on our eleventh Project AWARE, as we engage Iowans in becoming caretakers of Iowa's water resources and demonstrate that the commitment of volunteers can make a difference," said Lynette Seigley, the Project AWARE coordinator. "Project AWARE also provides an opportunity for Iowans to improve their mental and physical health through outdoor recreation - a great part of the DNR's Healthy and Happy Outdoors initiative."


Registration is required for those who wish to volunteer for the river cleanup. To avoid a late registration fee, volunteers must have their registration forms postmarked by Friday, June 21. Tent camping is free for volunteers and a limited number of canoes are available for those who need them.


Volunteers can help with the river cleanup by paddling the river or by assisting with land-based recycling initiatives, but there are opportunities for others to experience Project AWARE as well.  Educational programs are held each evening and are open to the public. Registration is not required to attend evening programs.


Additional information about evening programs and Project AWARE can be found at:  More information on Healthy & Happy Outdoors is available at 

Jul 13 River Critters & Wildlife Presentation & Optional Paddle, Cedar River WT, City of Waverly
Waverly Logo

The Cedar River Water Trail in Bremer County is home to a diverse assortment of Iowa's critters and wildlife, from birds and mammals to trees and shrubs.  Dr. Jim Pease knows them all and will help you to understand both them and their relationship with the river.  Paddling Iowa rivers since the age of 12, Dr. Pease is a widely known and respected wildlife and interpretive specialist who can help us find and understand the wildlife along our rivers.


There is no limit to the number of participants for the 1:00 pm presentation at the Waverly Civic Center, but there is a limit of 20 boats for the optional Cedar River paddle.


The optional paddle will follow the presentation at approximately 3:30 or 4:00 pm, launching and recovering at Three Rivers Park.  Paddlers may use their own canoe/kayak/paddle/PFDs, or contact Colleen Simmons at 319-235-0311 to reserve one of the 6 canoes/paddles/PFDs provided by Iowa DNR Water Trails, first come, first-served. Kayak equipment may also be reserved directly from CrawDaddy Outdoors in Waverly.  


MAXIMUM NUMBER OF VESSELS FOR THE PADDLE IS 20.  Please indicate the number of boats for you and "friends" when you register.


This event is free, but registration is required, and participation is limited to 20 boats.


This event is cosponsored by the City of Waverly and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, with assistance from Iowa Northland Regional Council of Government (INRCOG).


Click on the link below to register. 


Find more information about the Cedar River Water Trail at 

Find more information about the City of Waverly at 

Jul 13 Thru Aug 20 Schedule of Middle River WT Events, Madison County
Middle River WT Sign

Saturday, July 13: Middle River Raccoon River- Lemon Mills Dam at Panora to Shearer Access south of Linden (small-mouth bass fishery)


Monday, July 22: Full Moon Paddle (location to be announced)


August 13, 14, 15: Upper Iowa River Water Trail- 3 day/2 night trip- Scenic Bluffs and Small-mouth/Trout Fishery-Florenceville to Kendallville and Kendallville to Bluffton


Tuesday, August 20: Full Moon Paddle (location to be announced)


Most events are free, but please register with Madison County Conservation by calling 515-462-3536 or email at  


Jul 20 "Amazing Mollusks! Freshwater Mussels," Lake Red Rock, US Army Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will offer a special program, "Amazing Mollusks! Freshwater Mussels," with Jennifer Kurth, Natural Resource Biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, on Saturday, July 20.  Details on the program are still being developed, and the location will be determined based on weather and lake conditions.


The program is free of charge, but preregistration is required. Contact the Corps office at (641) 828-7522 or (641) 628-8690 or via email at


Lake Red Rock US Army Corps of Engineers website:   


This event is cosponsored by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 


Aug 3 Freshwater Mussels Paddle, Iowa River WT, Iowa City, Johnson County

Freshwater mussels might look like rocks, but they are living creatures that help keep our rivers clean.  Learn about these fascinating critters on a float trip on the Iowa River Water Trail.  
The paddle will be held Saturday, August 3, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, beginning at Sturgis Ferry Park in Iowa City, and ending at the Hills Access near Hills.


The event is free, but registration is required, and participation is limited to 20 boats.

Mussel expert Jennifer Kurth will be along to explain the natural history of what are sometimes call freswater "clams."  Participants should come prepared to get wet and muddy during a hands-on demonstration of mussel surveys.  Jennifer is a Natural Resource Biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and is currently in the midst of a six-year statewide survey of freshwater mussels.


A limited number of canoes are available at no charge for participants who don't have their own. The paddle is open to everyone, but children under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult.  Registration and additional information is available at or by calling 319-645-1011.  After registering, participants will receive a link to download a packet of detailed information about the trip, including a map and shuttling instructions.


The Iowa Water Trail is one of 19 designated water trails in Iowa.  This paddling trip is cosponsored by Pathfinder RC&D, Johnson County Conservation Board, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.


Click on the link below to register. 


Find more information about the Iowa River Water Trail at 

Find more information about Pathfinders RC&D programs at  

Aug 4 Tri-P-A Triathlon With a Twist, Turkey River WT (rescheduled from Jun 29)
Turkey River Rec Corridor Logo

The Turkey River WT will be the site of a new triathlon event with a unique twist on August 4 (postponed from June 29 due to high water levels).  The triathlon will include an unusual combination--Paddle, Peddle, Putt. Two-person teams will paddle the first leg on the Turkey River WT, bike the second leg on the Turkey River Rec Trail, and play a 9-hole 2-person best shot golf round for the third leg at Pleasant Valley Sports Club. Get your team together NOW and have a day of FUN on the Turkey River! Cash payouts, door prizes, and MORE!! 


The event will begin at the Pleasant Valley Sports Club in Clermont.  The entry fee is $100 per team; you must be 18 or older to participate.  Competitors must provide their own equipment--canoe, bike, golf clubs--but rentals are available locally for an additional fee. Visit  for a complete listing.


Registration is online at  or in person at Pleasant Valley Sports Club. For more information Email  All canoes must have proper Iowa registration and life jackets will be required for all participants. Bike helmets are required during the bike race/ride. 

This event is sponsored by the Turkey River Recreational Corridor and Pleasant Valley Sports Club. 

Aug 10 River Critters & Wildlife Paddle, Iowa River WT, Louisa County

Spend a delightful day on the river, learning about the creatures who live there from Dr. Jim Pease, and enjoying a leisurely paddle from Wapello to Cappy Russell Access near Oakville. You'll paddle about 10 miles on the Iowa River Water Trail, past Horseshoe Bend Division of Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge and Turtle Bend Wildlife Management Area


This trip is an official Iowa River Water Trail event cosponsored by Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Pathfinders RC&D. The event is free but all participants must be registered in advance. Shuttle and boats (if needed) will be provided. There is a limit of 20 boats for this trip, so get registered early!


Additional Info:

  • Time: 9:00-3:00 PM
  • Location: Schwob Landing in Wapello to Cappy Russell Access near Oakville
  • Ages: All Ages & Experience Levels Welcome; ages 16 and younger must be accompanied by an adult
  • Cost: Free!
  • Registration information: Please call (319)-523-8381 or email to reserve canoes or kayaks, to register your own boat, or to reserve a spot on the shuttle.
  • Registration deadline: August 6, 2013
  • For more information: Call (319)-523-8381
  • Reminder: Only 20 boats can participate!

Read more at: 

Aug 17 "Cruisin' for Critters" on the West Nishnabotna River WT, Botna Bend Park near Hancock
Golden Hills Rev Logo

Each watershed is home to a unique and diverse assortment of Iowa's critters and wildlife, from birds and mammals to trees and shrubs.  Dr. Jim Pease will introduce us to the critters of the West Nishnabotna River WT.  A paddler of Iowa's rivers since the age of 12, Dr. Pease is a widely known and respected wildlife and interpretive specialist who can help us identify wildlife, and then understand its role in the local ecosystem.


Tentatively set for 10:00 am, so remember to pack a lunch to eat as we float down the river!  Watch for more details, coming soon.


This event is free but space is limited. For more information contact Emily Haase at Golden Hills RC&D; 712.482.3029 or  This event is cosponsored by Golden Hills RC&D and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Aug 17 Fourth Annual Great Iowa River Canoe & Kayak Race, Iowa City (rescheduled from Jun 8)
Grt Iowa River Race Logo

The Great Iowa River Canoe & Kayak Race with Company Challenge serves as a community and fundraising event for the Iowa Valley RC&D.  The race is 9 miles from Sturgis Access in Iowa City to Hills Access in Hills.  Divisions include canoe, kayak, racing, recreation, youth, company challenge, and more.  The race is sanctioned by the United States Canoe Association.


Check in from 7:00-8:15 am at the Fin & Feather parking lot in Iowa City (including pre-registrants); race instructions at Sturgis Access at 8:30; race starts at 9:00.  Average run time is about 1.5 hours.  Free shuttle will be available.


A Pancake Breakfast will be available at Fin & Feather the morning of the race.  


Find info about rules, T-shirts, and registration at


Aug 17 Poker Run on Cedar River WT, Cedar Falls/Waterloo (rescheduled from Jun 15)
River of Dreams Logo

The 1st Annual "River of Dreams" Poker Run, benefiting Magical Mix Kids, will be held in Cedar Falls/Waterloo, after being postponed from June 15 to August 17, 2013 due to river conditions. Registration will be at Washington Park at 12:30 pm, with a first launch at 1:00 pm.  This is not a race, but a fun-filled Poker Run for a great cause; all money raised goes to Magical Mix Kids.


The run will start at Washington Park and finish at the Waterloo Boat House, with stops along the way for refreshments, entertainment, and special programming.  There will be prizes for 1st, 2nd, and Last Place Poker Hands, music, food, and door prizes.  If you don't want to float, you can drive to each poker stop.


Cedar River WT Course Description:

1. Washington Park-Cedar Falls Access: Registration, receive bottled water, t-shirt, safety information and 1st poker card.
2. George Wyth Park Access: Receive 2nd poker card, fresh water, Freshwater Mussel education program.
3. Cedar Bend Park Access: Receive 3rd card, Aquatic Insect Sampling and Identification education program.
4. San Souci Park: Receive 4th card, Fish Assemblage (electro-fishing) Demonstration.

5. Waterloo Boat House/Exchange Park Access: Receive last card, hand verifications, music, food and FUN!  Waterloo Rowing Club Demonstration.


Limited to first 100 boats registered.  For more info on event regulations, maps, and registration, visit  or call 319-277-1918.


Magical Mix Kids is a non-profit organization created to provide a worry-free vacation for chronically and terminally ill children of the Cedar Valley area.  The "River of Dreams" Canoe/Kayak Poker Run is sponsored by The Mix 93.5, Cedar Valley Paddlers, Iowa DNR, Iowa Northland Regional Council Of Governments, Cruisin 1250 Real Oldies, The VGM Group, City of Waterloo, 1650 The Fan.

Aug 17 Webster County Adventure Race, Brushy Creek State Recreation Area
Webster Co Cons Logo
"The Webster County Adventure Race is designed to combine great outdoor activities and to test your endurance, but most importantly, we want you to have FUN!"

Participants will navigate through the beautiful Brushy Creek Recreation Area with only a map and their orienteering skills.  Biking, Running, and Kayaking/Canoeing will be your primary modes of transportation as you find the various checkpoints throughout the park.  Your passport will be stamped at each check point, and you will also encounter a variety of challenges along the course.  The race should last 2-4 hours, all ability levels are welcome, and there are solo, team, and relay divisions.

Preregistration is required; no race day registrations will be accepted.  

Aug 17 Floatzilla 13, Quad Cities
Floatzilla 2012


Floats, training sessions, food, live music, tee shirts, world record attempt for largest flotilla of kayaks & canoes; Spend your morning experiencing Quad Cities Water Trails on the Mississippi River August 17 as you paddle from one of four launch sites to Lake Potter in Rock Island, IL, for Floatzilla 2013, River Action's annual paddlesports festival.


Head out early or put-in at Lake Potter at Sunset Park to enjoy food, music, and a paddlesports tradeshow. At 2 p.m., everyone will gather for the traditional group photo and the attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest flotilla of canoes and kayaks. The current Guinness record is 1,902.


Intermediate paddlers can launch from either Ben Butterworth Parkway and portage on Sylvan Island, or launch from Marquette Street or Credit Island in Davenport, IA. All are welcome to put-in directly at Lake Potter.


Registration is $20 per paddler and includes one Floatzilla t-shirt, decal, free parking and shuttle to and from the on-site parking. Late registration after August 1 is $25. T-Shirts and decals are subject to availability after August 15.


Registration information is at  

Campaign Aims to Clean Up Behavior on Upper Iowa River
Iowa DNR Logo

A series of special meetings last fall with landowners along the Upper Iowa River revealed some disturbing behavior by individuals who frequent Iowa's signature inland stream.  Trespassing. Alcohol abuse. Underage drinking. Public nudity. Public urination. Littering. Vulgar language. And the list goes on.


Floating the Upper Iowa River was once included on the National Geographic's America's 100 Best Adventures list, but to those living nearest the river, much of its attraction has been diminished by those who use it.  "We heard stories of people coming home to find an intoxicated person in their kitchen making a sandwich, about encounters with intoxicated people looking for a ride home, or vomiting or urinating on their property," said Nate Hoogeveen, river programs coordinator for the Iowa DNR.


Hoogeveen met earlier with other players in the area to discuss the possibility of designating the Upper Iowa River as a state water trail. At these listening sessions, a number of concerns were discussed about the existing behavior by some of the river users.  "We want people to have fun on the river but not at the expense of others. We need to take these reports seriously," said Hoogeveen.

The local meetings lead to an effort to remind river users that their behavior affects other people, including neighboring landowners.  Keep it Clean, Keep it Fun for Everyone is a new campaign to improve the behavior on Iowa rivers.


"These problems didn't develop overnight and won't go away overnight," said DNR Director Chuck Gipp. "We need support locally to report problems and hold individuals accountable for their behavior. The Upper Iowa River is one of our most unique treasures and we need to treat it with respect and appreciation that it deserves."


The DNR is working to target law enforcement presence on the river as a way to reduce some of the illegal activity. The liveries will also include materials in their rentals to help paddlers report illegal activities they witness.


Littering is a significant problem on the Upper Iowa River, especially at access points, and the DNR will be distributing green mesh bags that people can take with them and pick up litter as they go.  "We need all of our users to respect the resource and take out what they bring in," he said. "Respect the private property rights of landowners living along the river, including the sandbars and riverbanks. Nearly all of Iowa's river bottoms are privately owned."


Another thing users can do to make the Upper Iowa more inviting is to clean up the language, he said. "Rude behavior, foul language and loud music were noted by landowners on several occasions as something that needed attention," Hoogeveen said.


Businesses and public agencies who want to support this campaign can request posters and decals from Iowa DNR by calling Todd Robertson at (515) 979-9538 or sending a request to 

IRR Master River Steward Classes in Cedar River Watershed Jul 24--Aug 28; Register Now!
IRR Logo


Recruitment Deadline: July 19, 2013 (please inquire about availability after this date.)

Contact: Jenn Dreier, Administrative Coordinator,; 515-724-4093.


Pioneered by IRR in 2012, this multi-class course offers a focus on riverine systems, including sessions on understanding watershed geology and river form, restoring aquatic habitat, improving water quality, and understanding policies related to floodplains, river protection and restoration.  A 2013 Des Moines/Raccoon River Watershed IRR Master River Steward Program, with 23 students, was held earlier this year. 


The Master River Steward Program builds on a network of river experts from various partner agencies and organizations, helping adult learners collaborate to protect and improve Iowa's rivers.  Participants in the 2012 course raved about the program's content, presenters, leadership, resources, and the opportunity to meet and work with others who share their interests and concerns.


Participants pay a fee of $50, receive program materials, are expected to attend each session, and will have "homework" assignments.  Read more at: 

Iowa DNR Reminds Us That High River & Streams Warrant Caution
Logo Wear It

Hot, humid weather has Iowans seeking ways to cool off. Although the drought is officially over, water-loving Iowans should do their homework before deciding to boat, paddle or tube a river.


"Throughout June, we received several reports of rescue situations along rivers," said Nate Hoogeveen, river programs coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. "While some rivers have dropped to easier levels, last weekend's rains put some of the most popular rivers well above safe levels for paddlers and innertubers."  The Upper Iowa River, for example, rose to 14,000 cubic feet per second on Sunday, whereas its "normal" or median flow is 400 cubic feet per second at this time of year.  "Rivers fluctuate a lot, and some that are too high now might be in better shape within a week or two," said Hoogeveen. "Or, they might be flooding."


It is important river users know it's their job to make good decisions about taking the trip in the first place. At high water, it can quickly become a matter of life and death. Hoogeveen offered the following tips:

  • Wear your life jacket: Life jackets, when properly fastened and cinched, save lives. Life jackets are mandatory for any child under 13 in any vessel underway in the state of Iowa.
  • Recognize and avoid hazards: Most high water incidents involve an obstruction - downed trees and branches create a "strainer" effect that can trap boats and people under water, sometimes leading to drowning. A bridge pier or boulder can get a boat pinned on its upstream side. Low-head dams can re-circulate, trap and drown victims. These hazards are most difficult to avoid at mid to high range flows.
  • Learn more before you go: If you are renting, call the outfitter, describe your level of experience and ask whether it sounds like a safe level for you. Otherwise, review river gauge data nearest the segment you plan to visit at On the "Discharge" graph, find the "median daily flow" triangles. If the current water level reading is more than 50 percent higher than the median in late June to early July, use extra caution.
  • When you arrive: If timber and debris are floating down the river or the river is out of its banks or nearly so, don't launch.
  • Consider your experience: Novice paddlers and tubers generally have less control as rivers get swifter, and should factor in more caution.
  • Other factors: You can improve your odds by not consuming alcohol, considering weather factors, bringing appropriate rain gear and being vigilant about what's around the next bend. 
REPORT: Jun 15 Tree Town Adventure Race, Forest City on Winnebago River WT
Forest City Logo

The 2013 Tree Town Adventure Race enjoyed good weather, good water, and friendly competition.  The course started with a 7 mile canoe/kayak race from Ambroson Recreation Area south of Leland, Iowa to Pammel Park in Forest City on the Winnebago River, followed by a 12 mile bike ride, and then a 5k run.   All proceeds of this annual event go toward the upkeep and expansion of the Forest City Trails. 


View race results at 

View race photos at 

REPORT: Jun 17 Pioneer Potteries on Lower Des Moines River WT, Bonaparte
State Archaeologist Logo

Forty-five people toured the historic Bonaparte Pottery and attended a presentation at the Bonaparte Opera House.


Archaeologists Cherie Haury-Artz and Lynn M. Alex continued the ongoing discussion of "History Along the Lower Des Moines River Water Trail with a program illustrating archaeology's contribution to our understanding of the Bonaparte Pottery. Also known as the Parker-Handback Pottery and Handback-Wilson Pottery, it was in operation from 1866 to 1895. Remains of the pottery were uncovered in the flood of 1993 and the pottery is now part of a National Historic Archaeological District.  Bonaparte Pottery is located at 411 First Street in Bonaparte, and you can view more info and hours of operation at their website, .


This program was sponsored by Pathfinders RC&D, the Iowa DNR Rivers Program and the University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist. Find more information about Lower Des Moines River Water Trail resources, events, and activities at  Find more information about Pathfinders RC&D programs at      

REPORT: Jun 22 "Night Life" Paddle, Odessa WT, Louisa County

Registrations "maxed out" for the June 22 Night Life Paddle on the Odessa WT, with 25 people and 20 boats Naturalist presenter Brittney Tiller and trip leaders Julie Ohde and Katie Hammond helped the group learn about the nocturnal wildlife of the "night shift" along approximately 3 miles of the Odessa Water Trail. 


To learn about upcoming events on the Odessa WT visit: or phone 319-523-8381


The Night Life Paddle was sponsored by Pathfinders RC&D, Louisa County Conservation, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

WhereIsItWhere Is It? Quiz ANSWER
Des Moines River Valley Leland Searles
Photo of Des Moines River Valley
by Leland M. Searles

Leland Searles shared this photo of the Des Moines River valley, taken from the east end of the High-Trestle Bridge, west of Madrid, Iowa.


Leland explains, "Compared to the stretch of the river from its namesake city downstream, the bluffs of the Des Moines here on either side are fairly close. A severe flood might cover almost the entire valley. At this point the river flows through the landform area known as the Des Moines Lobe of the Wisconsin glacial surface. About 12,000 to 15,000 years ago, as the last large glacier sheet was melting and retreating, the amount of water flowing down the newly formed river channels was tremendous.

"Southeast of the capital city these melt-waters used existing river channels and carried huge amounts of rock and dirt from the bluffs. But north of Des Moines any older rivers were covered or erased by the advancing glaciers. When they melted, the water shaped new channels in the glacial debris. North of Des Moines, including here at the High-Trestle Bridge, the river valley is relatively narrow. There still fertile farmland on the river terrace, evident in the photo. It appears that the landowner has chosen to leave standing corn for wildlife. Above the field is the bluff, with stands of oak-hickory woods, mixed with other species that favor the wetter bluff bases. Careful excavations in the field would reveal layers of gravel, sand, and silt and clues to the river's history over the last dozen millennia: floods, droughts, meanders, oxbows, and other features, along with their ecosystems."


Leland M. Searles, Consultant and Photographer, Leeward Solutions LLC, offers services including Wetlands Delineation (USACE Certified), Native & Invasive Plant Evaluation, Photography (Commissions, Freelance), Ecosystem Management, Air Quality Policy & Regulation.

WhatIsItWhat Is It? Quiz ANSWER
Wapsi Crib Dam Remnants GStark
Photo of Timber Crib Remnants on Wapsipinicon River
by Gregg Stark

Remnants of a wood crib dam were visible during low water on the Wapsipinicon River, in an area with no other existing structures or even a road.  While little is known about the site, it is believed to be one of the many small mills built in Iowa in the 1800's which was reached by a dirt road, probably provided a river crossing point, and offered grain milling or sawmill services to area residents.  As with many such enterprises, it probably succumbed to market forces or river flooding, and the old road did not provide a significant transportation link.


Timber crib dams were erected of timbers in the same manner as a log house, and the interior was then filled with rocks.  Early entrepreneurs could build them relatively quickly from locally available materials utilizing basic skills, but the dams were limited in height and longevity. 


Such discoveries should not be disturbed, but rather enjoyed for a glimpse into history, and possibly reported to the State Office of Archaeologist:  


Read more about timber crib dam construction at Timber Crib Dam

We Hope That You Are Enjoying the IWTA Newsletter
Belted Kingfisher Nick Chill

Our thanks to everyone who provided WT event information for this issue.

Special thanks to Leland Searles for sharing his photo and commentary on the Des Moines River Valley.

The IWTA mission is to facilitate the exchange of information, ideas, and encouragement among Iowans working to create, enhance, or utilize our water trails.  We measure the success of the IWTA Newsletter by how much our subscribers share about their efforts to improve the water trail experience across Iowa.  Thank you for your event information, your article ideas, and your encouragement.

If you are not a subscriber, please click on the "Join Our Mailing List" button to become one.  And, we would appreciate your sharing the IWTA Newsletter with your friends via the "Forward this email" or "Share on Social Media" buttons.


Gregg Stark
Editor, Iowa Water Trails Association Newsletter