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LMRD 753, Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019
The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
"Voice of the Mississippi River"

Mark River Blog:
Time to Hunker Down
(photos from recent voyageur expedition)

The Lower Mississippi River was unusually high throughout the Summer months, finally dropping in the beginning of August. The animals who live in the floodplain are behind on their preparations for fall and winter. The late receding water stunted the germination of fauna and flora, leaving the forest floors bare. The sandbars that are usually too hot to walk on are cool and damp. Animal scat, instead of being full of turtle eggs and fish anatomy, are now showing honey locust and persimmon seeds. I must say, it's gonna be a rough for offspring experiencing their first winter.

The water temperature is around 62F and dropping. Large flocks of Pelicans soar through the air arriving from their northern breeding grounds. They congregate at the end of a low-lying sandbar, far from the tree line, because they know danger awaits in the woods. The monarch butterflies are headed south for Mexico. Large gatherings of coots, gulls, and Arctic terns float in the eddies. Eagles and osprey share air space, showing mutual respect. Egrets and herons line shallow pools. Beavers are dropping big willows in the back channels, so they can feed from the water in safety. The winds are starting to gust. Boat ramps are full of trailers, letting me know the fishing is great, but the fishermen are not talking. Tow boats are busy hauling commodities like grain, corn, and rice.

The male deer are starting to rut. Small willows are showing signs of bucks "rubbing" the velvet off the antlers and getting ready to fight for females. Their beautiful orange Summer coats are turning grayish green for the changing of the forest setting. The females dig a small depressions in the ground and urinate on them. The males comes, picks up the scent, and follows it relentlessly. There's a reason why we hunt them when they are preoccupied with the yearning to breed. The fundamental drive for all wild animals is to populate.

I sit beside my tent on a sandy bluff, staring out to the River watching schools of shad being dispersed by predatory fish systematically striking them from below. My mood is calm, but not sad, as I change my focus from the water to the trees. The tall thin willows stretch and strain in the wind sounding like mammal-like offspring calling for their mother. My mood comes from the silence of the forest. No migratory birds singing from the tree top, no rustling in the trees, and no signs of life, but the occasional sonic sounds of flocks of ducks heading south fast, avoiding the hunters waiting for them in the floodplain. Unlike Spring, the time of plenty, it's fall and resources are running thin. I have spent so much time sitting in nature, absorbing all its sounds and observing its habits, that I'm starting to feel the changes and the stress that comes along with it. With the outfitting and guiding season coming to an end, the conditions tell me it's time to hunker down.

Mark River

Mark River is Chief Guide and Youth Leader for the Quapaw Canoe Company. He is also the Southern Coordinator of the 1 Mississippi River Citizen Program. Tune in to Mark River's podcast "May the River be With You" episodes 1-4 available online via Stitcher or itunes.

Daniel Coe: Mississippi Meander Scars (Tensas Parish, LA)

~~~December, 2019~~~
Some cool river stuff to share:

*Horn Island: Sacred Place*

Sacred Place Short Film by Julian Rankin. Click here for viewing. In April 2019, seven southern explorers journeyed to a desert island off the Mississippi coast. We crossed between realities. Through barriers of place and time. Following the ghost of an artist named Walter Inglis Anderson. Film made by Julian Rankin, Director of the Walter Anderson Museum.

*Mighty Mississippi Exhibition*

At Missouri History Museum, St. Louis
November 23, 2019 — April 18, 2021
Click here for Preview of Exhibition

*Boyce Upholt "Kamikaze Canoe"*
Images by Birney Imes. Click below for full story and photos:
Haverford Magazine, Fall 2019

*The Cassidy Bayou Gallery, Sumner, MS *
Featuring Paintings by Kyd Clark, Sheila Gourlay, Hayden Hall, and John Ruskey through the end of the year, Sat & Sun 1-3pm

*Daniel Coe: Mississippi River Comparison*

Comparison of Harold Fisk's (US Army Corps of Engineers) 1944 maps from the "Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River" with modern day lidar-derived images of the river. Go to for viewing incredible river images and comparisons with Fisk. Recently featured in National Geographic Magazine.

Daniel Coe: Comparison of Fisk and modern USGS Lidar (Mississippi River, Island 63 to Smith Point - this is our
favorite stretch of river!)


Missouri History Museum, St. Louis
November 23, 2019 — April 18, 2021

Opening week only: Junebug I Canoe on display!
Junebug I was built by Quapaw Canoe Company in 2009 and now serves legendary big river guide and personal compadre, Michael F. Clark, Big Muddy Mike, of Big Muddy Adventures!

St. Louis Mo., Monday, August 19, 2019 — For thousands of years the Mississippi River has been the lifeblood of the heartland of the United States. Through ice ages and droughts, the river has seen the arrival of humans and the extinction of species. On Nov. 23, 2019, the Missouri History Museum, located in St. Louis’ Forest Park, will open a new 6,000-square-feet special exhibit that explores the rich heritage of the famous river. Mighty Mississippi puts the grandeur of North America’s greatest river in context with the cultures that have grown and thrived around it, from the largest and most influential American Indian centers of the Mississippian period; to the vast European and Indian fur trade networks that forever changed the continent; to the steamboats, factories and immigration of the Industrial Age.

The story of survival along one of the earth’s greatest watersheds is told through more than 200 artifacts, many dating back over 1,000 years. The Missouri History Museum drew from the impressive collections of the Missouri Historical Society in developing Mighty Mississippi. The Missouri Historical Society houses and cares for one of the largest collections of intact Mississippian artifacts in the country. The exhibit features the largest display of Mississippian artifacts shown at the Missouri History Museum in three decades.

Some of the Mississippian artifacts on display include:

  • Earthenware salt pan found in Kimmswick, Missouri ca. 1000—1700
  • Stemmed points made from gar scales, ca. 900—1750
  • Canada goose leg bone whistle, ca. 900—1750
  • Twenty-six beads made of Leptoxis snail shell, ca. 450 —1400
  • Mississippian water monster effigy bowl from St. Clair County, Illinois, ca. 1100—1400
  • Lightning whelk from French Village, Illinois, ca. 900—1350
  • Engraved gorget made from whelk shell, ca. 900—1350

Other artifacts on display include:

  • The pilothouse from the Golden Eagle steamboat. The pilothouse is one of only a handful left in the United States and one of the single largest artifacts in the Missouri Historical Society’s collection.
  • Northwest gun made by Robert Wheeler of Birmingham, England, 1802—1810
  • Missouri war ax, 1800—1840
  • Cannon used by the American Fur Company, ca. 1835

Mighty Mississippi is open Nov. 23, 2019, through April 18, 2021, at the Missouri History Museum. Admission is free. Bank of America is the presenting sponsor. Additional support provided by JSM Charitable Trust.

Rainbow Rescue, 2019, John Ruskey, At Cassidy Bayou Gallery, December 2019

Through Dec 29th
Open Saturdays and Sundays 1-3pm

Or by Appointment:
call Langdon Clay

For more info, and preview, go to:

Mississippian Man (after DaVinci), 2019, John Ruskey, At Cassidy Bayou Gallery, December 2019

*Incredible Opportunity Now Open:
Business Partner for the Quapaw Canoe Company!

This is an extraordinary opportunity for anyone who both loves the water and has dreamed of running or partnering in their own business.

Purchase or partnership using well-established and successful system of operations. Great opportunity to take it & run, but also for coaching, mentoring, logistical support, and camaraderie of the Quapaw Canoe network of river rats on the biggest and baddest river in North America!

Description: Quapaw Canoe Company is now offering a partnership opportunity for someone with a strong passion for rivers, outdoor recreation, and is ready to dive into a challenging but rewarding business based in Clarksdale, Miss, (with outposts in Vicksburg and Helena, Arkansas). Visionary thriving business with incredible range: the Mighty Mississippi River from St. Louis to Gulf of Mexico; 1200 miles of free-flowing river. Quapaw Canoe Company is a small, mission-driven, dynamic business with many types of service including guiding & outfitting, outdoor education, and canoe construction. Applicant must be willing to tackle challenges and learn new skills. We will train as needed. All QCC staff share in all aspects of the work to be done. For more information about QCC, please visit

Requirements: Must be friendly and people-oriented. Must be good with kids as well as adults. Must have good communication skills, and be able to speak comfortably with individuals as well as groups. Must be a capable writer and typist. Must be computer savvy (both Microsoft and Apple systems). Knowledge of Quickbooks a plus. Ability with Social Media a plus. Must be willing to tackle challenges and learn new skills. We will train as needed. Must be a good team member, but also must able to work independently. Must be passionate about the outdoors and the American wilderness ethic. Must be physically capable of outdoor tasks (such as canoeing and kayaking) and moving heavy equipment in preparation and/or cleanup of expeditions. Must be honest, earnest and hard-working. We are all worker bees in this company; the river is the queen.

To Apply: Please send 1) current resume, 2) an essay describing your interest, 3) Three letters of reference, and 4) personal letter to: John Ruskey, Quapaw Canoe Company, 291 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale, MS 38614, or by email to Feel free to write at length. Feel free to send any other supporting materials to help us understand who you are and where your passion for the river comes from. Please contact above for more information. Serious inquiries only.




The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch "Voice of the Lower Mississippi River" is published by the Quapaw Canoe Company. Photos and writing by John Ruskey, Mark River and others. Please write for re-publishing. Feel free to share with friends or family, but also credit appropriately. Go to and click on "Quapaw Dispatch" for viewing back issues of the LMRD.


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Coahoma Collective catalyzes arts-driven, community-inclusive revitalization in downtown Clarksdale


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