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Putnam Gray and His Castle on the River

In the late 1800s, an eccentric inventor and long-time riverman built a home next to the Mississippi River near Minneiska, Minnesota. Putnam Gray's home  was so unique that people talked about it for decades, and people like me are still fascinated by it today. Gray was born in Ohio in 1833 and began working

By |2019-02-03T16:50:52+00:00February 3rd, 2019|About the Mississippi Valley|0 Comments

Illinois’ Little Egypt

The most southern portion of Illinois has been known as Little Egypt at least since the 1820s, and maybe earlier. Many early European settlers viewed the Mississippi River as America’s Nile, which, coupled with evidence that the area was inhabited by an ancient civilization (earthen mounds that often looked a lot like pyramids) probably

By |2018-12-08T17:36:14+00:00December 8th, 2018|About the Mississippi Valley|0 Comments

Mark Twain Goes Home Again

Sam Clemens grew up in Hannibal, Missouri. We all know that. Those years provided fodder for his future works of fiction and shaped a good part of his character (and maybe the bad parts, too). We know that, too. Sam Clemens in 1850 During his life, Clemens related many happy memories of

By |2018-11-25T11:37:16+00:00November 25th, 2018|About the Mississippi Valley|0 Comments

Bix Beiderbecke: From Musical Prodigy to Jazz Legend

Bix Beiderbecke grew into a jazz legend because he was born in the right place at the right time. Sure, he was also a gifted musician, but his path to the top as one of the greatest jazz cornetists was fueled by the inspiration he drew from hearing the earliest jazz musicians play on

By |2018-12-15T10:05:05+00:00October 21st, 2018|Characters|0 Comments

The Sea Wing Disaster

In 1888, well after the peak of the steamboat era, David Niles Wethern and Marion Sparks invested in a new sternwheel steamboat to ply local routes. The Sea Wing stretched 135 feet long and 22 feet tall and was based on the Mississippi River at Diamond Bluff, Wisconsin. Both men piloted the boat, which

By |2018-10-09T18:01:56+00:00October 9th, 2018|About the Mississippi Valley|0 Comments

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