Thursday, July 28, 2011


View out the front door of, My Old Historic House.

Every morning I peak out the window and see what the Mississippi is up to.

Clarksville,Mo. Mississippi River front park.

Steps to the Mississippi where you can touch it or dangle your feet in it. 

  Right in front of ,My Old Historic House, about 100 feet away ,is the Mighty Mississippi River. It is the largest river system in North America,flowing entirely in the United States. The River rises in  Western Minnesota and meanders slowly  southwest for 2,320 miles to the Mississippi Delta, at the gulf of  Mexico. With it's many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains into all , or part of, 31 US States. The Mississippi River is the 4th longest and 10 largest, among the world's rivers.
   For 10,00 years Native American's have lived along the Mississippi. Most were hunters,gathers and herders. A few were mound builders. The Indians depended on the River for  many things, water, fish,furs and travel.The Mississippi River  Valley is one of the most fertile agricultural regions of the country,formed from thick layers of the Rivers deposits of enriched soil. There has been a saying for years, that the soil along the Mississippi is so rich, all one needs to do, is throw down a seed and it will grow. We have a large burial ground of Early Native Americans ,here in my town , Clarksville.

One of the many amazing views as you approach our town.

     White settlers were soon settling along the river banks as well as the Indians. This brought trouble and tribulations to both parties. The Indians having been there for many years, felt the land was there's. The leaders  of the United States felt different. War soon came and many lives were lost. The White man won in the end and the Indians  were soon ran off the land. With the White man came the  Steamboat.A giant on the water. It changed the travel of the river for ever. Soon it was discovered that the river bottom was not always deep enough  for the steamboats, so dredging had to be done. This  fixed the river depth problem, but opened a whole  new can of warms. FLOODING. You know the old saying,"Don't mess with Mother Nature."After the steamboats came barge traffic and then Locks and Damn. And the biggest problem yet, LEVEES. When Levees are built to hold the water back, the river has to expand where it can, often in small towns , that were built on the river banks ,to take advantage of the river travel. Even with out, all the man- made problems, the Mississippi River would flood. It is a right of passage and almost sure to happen in the spring, especially after a long hard winter, filled with heavy snow amounts. Because of all the dredging, levees and locks and damns, the Mississippi  River has moved forward and this brings  the river closer to towns than it was originally. My Old Historic House, is one that through the years, has been burdened  by the  ever changing River banks.When my house, The 1845 Historic Elgin/Cottrell house was built in 1845, the Mississippi was a good mile and a half away from the front door. Today it is only about 100 feet. Records show that since 1873, floods have been all around my home. In 1873 the flood crest was 36.70 feet. Flood stage in Clarksville is 25 feet. To get into my house the river has to flood to 38 feet. Other floods on record are: 1983-33.24 ft.1866-33.24 ft.-1993-37.50 ft.(largest yet) -1973-36,70 ft.-2001-34.70 ft.-2008-36.70 ft. I have owned the house since 2006, so I have been through one major flood. I have learned a lot since then and know a little more about what to expect when that old  river begins to swell. My town, Clarksville, purchased a temporary flood wall since the flood of 2008. We put it up this spring, when there was a threat of flooding. We did not get to test it, and for that I am happy. Plans and drawings are in the works for a real flood wall. I can only hope it will happen soon.

The River bank as it looks today, minus this years flood water.
Boat docks dot the banks of the Mississippi.

    For years there has been a Romance connected to this old  Mississippi. Books, plays, musical and movies have all been written,produced and filmed about the river and its people. Some as early as 1835- when Samuel Clemens,better known by  his pen name, Mark Twain , wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in 1886.Twain grew up in Hannibal,Missouri, about 35 miles from me here in Clarksville,Missouri. That town and the Mississippi River provided the setting for his Tom and Huck books. Twain became a master riverboat piolet as well and often traveled up and down this river. Twain is often called, "The Father of American Literature." In the book, Adventures of Huck Finn, Huck and Old Joe, a slave, run away -to find Joe's freedom. They travel down the Mississippi on a home made raft. They leave Hannibal and are headed to Cario,Ill. Illinois was a slave free state. To get from Hannibal to Illinois, they had to travel right through Clarksville,Mo. I am sure, had the story been true, they would have spotted, My old Historic House, right there on the banks.Millions of people, especially students, make a trip to Hannibal every summer to see where this story took place and Mark Twain lived.

Missouri home boy, Mark Twain.

   The second Romantic chapter in the Mississippi River fame is with a Musical called;"Showboat". Showboat is a musical in two acts with music by Jerome Kern,  and words by Oscar Hammerstein.It was originally produced in New York in 1927. Based on the 1927 novel  with the same name.. The plot chronicles the lives of those living and working on the,"Cotton Blossom",  a Mississippi River showboat in 1880. The shows dominant theme include racial prejudice and tragic enduring love. Showboat is widely considered one of the most influential works of the American Musical theater.Show Boat won a Tony award for best revival of a musical in 1995. There were no awards on Broadway in 1927. The song, "O'l Man River',music by Jerome Kern, words by Oscar Hammerstein, from the musical, "Showboat", expressed the African Americans  hardships and struggles on the Mississippi River.The song is from the point of view of a riverboat dock hand, "Joe".

A luck fisherman and is grandson on the Mississippi River bank in Clarksville.,Mo.

I find these little fishermen shacks all up and down the banks. I think it would be fun to spend the night with only an oil lantern . Wonder if there is any spirit?

A view from Clarksville,Mo. town hill,

    Many other famous movies, musicals and plays have been written and produced about the Mississippi River, far to many to mention. A small list include; The Flame of New Orleans, 1941.--- Naughty Nineties, 1945----The Skeleton Key, 2000. Frankie and Johnny, Elvis Presley.---- Tammy,1967, with Debbie Reynolds,------And, Mississippi -the musical on Broadway.
    Today the Mississippi is alive with many activities. Fishermen make there livings fishing for:  Cat Fish, Carp and Buffalo. Weekenders bring out the boats and skis on beautiful days. Barges travel every hour or so, locking through Locks and Damns all the way, carrying grain, coal and other needed supplies. Riverboats carry passengers as they travel from port to port. The activity on the river in endless and is assuring that that Old Man River is alive and well. People come and just set on His banks and watch the  River Roll By. There is a suttle   peacefulness  about it's waters. Sunset comes and we never want to go home. I often set on my upstairs porch and listen, late at night ,as the water slaps the banks. In the distance a light from a barge or boat. I always feel at home, right there on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi, the Father of all Water. Come by any time for a tour. I will fix us a glass of sweet tea, we can set on the porch, catch a Blue Heron fly by and hear the steamboat music in the distance,. And, Sissy Dog will be waiting with a jump and a kiss.
    "Rolling, Rolling on the River."
I guess is does! Want to try it and see if the road really ends?

2008 Flood downtown Clarksville,Mo.

Sandbags in front of, My Old Historic House, Mississippi River flood 2008.

This is the view my visitors  have as they approach ,My Old Historic House.

This was taken last night  from my side porch .

This is how, My Old Historic House, looks as you pass by on the river. 
The Mississippi at sunset!


lvroftiques said...

Well despite the rare flooding Richard, Clarksville looks like a lovely place to live. And I know I would never tire of sitting on that porch of yours and watching the river go by. I'm a water baby having been nearly raised on a boat, and I can't imagine ever living far from the water. *winks* How old is Clarksville? You've probaby mentioned it before but if so I don't remember.* Just to think that Mark Twain was passing back and fourth in front of your old house at one time (too cool!) And I was also very surprised at how far that river has moved toward you? Will it enivitability take over the house somewhere down the road? Vanna

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

What a great view of the Mississippi. I cross it every day but don't think twice about it! one of my coworkers lives in Bowling Green and she wants me to come up and go antique I may just end up on your doorstep someday and meet you in person!!
Sometimes all of us from work go on day trips and visiting your home would be wonderful!!

Barbara F. said...

What a wonderful tour of your town, Richard. I would love to visit someday. The Mississippi is certainly mighty. You know, I still have to "sing it" to "spell it"! I hope you didn't need to evacuate back in 2008, or have any serious water damage to that beautiful home. xo,

Pamela Gordon said...

Thanks for the history and tour of the mighty Mississippi. It's hard to believe your home used to be a mile and a half from the river. Time and man have changed things for sure. Our St. John River, also known as "The Rhine of North America" is a very beautiful river that flows from northern Maine and down to the Bay of Fundy in Saint John. It also has it's flooding problems in spring from the snow melt and sometimes fall if we get a lot of rain. I have done some posts on the the beauty of this river in the past. I hope you never have to deal with flood waters in your historic home!

Anonymous said...

I love this post Richard. We truly love the Mississippi and the Great River Road.

The plaque about the '73 flood brought back a memory. Even though we were not adversely affected by the flood, it touched our lives. In 1973, during the flood, my first husband and I built a house outside Elsberry. We lived in O'Fallon. Our house in O'Fallon sold in two days and the basement at the new house had not even been excavated. That house was built in less than two months! I did all the trim staining and door painting as part of our sweat equity. Every day, I sent the older girls off to school and my youngest and I made our way to Elsberry, so I could work on the house. We could not get there via 79 due to the water being over the road. That was our usual way to go from O'Fallon. Every day, I took the detour up 61, which took awhile longer, but I enjoyed the drive with my happy 18 month old daughter.

The property sat high on a hill, about 12 or so miles from the Mississippi. Standing on the hill we could see what looked like a huge lake. It was, in fact, the Mississippi in flood.

Ruffles and Relics said...

really enjoyed reading the history of this place... what a view to have with your morning coffee or evening tea.. would be a great place to visit..

Anonymous said...

PS:I bet those old Mississippi River club houses could tell some stories!

Shelia said...

Hi Richard, I forgot you lived on the water! What a beautiful sight to see each day. I love reading your posts and learning so much. I too, love to hear that song - especially by the actor who sang it with that deep voice.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Alison @ The Polohouse said...

Dear Richard,
Your home is so gorgeous and I didn't even know it was a waterfront property --- even more perfect.
Your porches are so lovely (would love to take you up on the sweet tea offer someday!)
Love that black original lantern at your front door too. Thanks for the history lesson.
I too hope your riverfront lady never floods.
That shot of your house from the river is soooo pretty!

Great post.
Hope the farmer finds his dog.

Megan @ Restoring the Roost said...

How lucky you are to live right on the river!! We used to live on the Haw River when we lived in Saxapahaw, NC and I miss it so much. You have a beautiful view!

Pearl said...

Looks beautiful and it sounds like you love it dearly like an old friend. Your writing is wonderful Richard, I really enjoyed the tour and the history lesson. Take care, Pearl

Babs said...

Richard, I really enjoy reading your stories of the Mighty Mississippi and your beautiful home. Thanks for all the interesting information/history.
I can just imagine in old times, riverboats passing and those on the banks waving as the boats went by or sitting on the porch with a glass of tea. :) Thank you and the mint garnish is just to my liking. lol
Hope you have a great weekend,

La Vie Quotidienne said...


I am so impressed, here on the West Coast the historical context of your daily life is something we only read about or if lucky get a chance to visit. It is all so atmospheric and charming. Your house is, amazing, the picture with the fightning that must have been.

Thank you so much for finding the time to visit me and leave such a nice comment about angels in the garden ~ with the maturity of your garden there must be many, many angels about.(-:

Sissysmom said...

Well Richard, all I can say is the green eyed monster came to visit me as I read your post! Living in the desert I sooooo miss the water. Growing up in Northern Indiana we were surrounded by lakes and spent much of our summers there. There is nothing I love more than waking up in the morning to sounds on the water (well except for Victorian house, antiques, roses and dogs named Sissy!) Anyway enjoyed your post as usual and all the great information!

Give Sissy Dog a pat on the head from me! said...

Oh Richard, are you scared? I couldn't sleep at night worrying about flooding! The approach to your home is lovely, and I loved the tour of your town.Kiss Sissy for me.

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Thanks so much for your visit!!
What you have shared with us is beautiful and I admire your courage for choosing to live near the river.
We had the Agnes Flood of 72 here and it effected a good part of Pa. along the Susquehanna River. I was in Junior high and my parent's were not effected. My sister's house was completely covered by the water and she lost everything . That almost included her sanity. My Dad rebuilt her home and I watched her 2 small children that entire summer in their HUD provided trailer. I vowed I would never live in the Flood Plain after seeing the destruction that was wrought upon my entire area.
I know you love your home and you have done a beautiful job restoring it. I pray that you will never lose it to a flood.


Garden Antqs Vintage said...

How did you know the doctor ordered "sissy dog kisses", which I'll take any day!! Your house is just beautiful and those fisherman's shacks are cute. Happy Friday!!

Alison Agnew said...

what a fascinating post...i certainly didn't know all that information and history about the mississippi...and your home is truly lovely...i hope that 37.5' is the highest mark you'll ever have to glad you decided to link up to fridays unfolded and share your delightful view with us!


Curtains in My Tree said...

Hi Richard & Sissy

I love your history lesson for today and I remember watching that movie Show Boat and the song Ol Man River wonder if we could get that on video any longer?

I Loved the look of the fisherman shack. I could make that my lake house and do it up all Shabby chic LOL and be your neighbor on the week ends LOL

thanks for the places to shop tomorrow I have them printed out on map quest the the ole GPS is handy also


bj said...

O, the history that surrounds your beautiful spot. I would LOVE to have a home such as close to the river, you can smell it.
You have a beautiful home and I know you are very proud of it.

Divine Theatre said...

I can picture myself there...Sissy, Napoleon and Gracie running amok while we watch from the porch!
It is so beautiful yet frighteningly powerful and unpredictable. I cannot imagine the trepidation you feel during flood season!
Back to work!


Anonymous said...

What a great post! It made me homesick. I grew up among the hills and rivers & creeks of NE Arkansas. Memphis was the closest big city, so I've crossed the Mississippi many times--by bridge and by ferry.

I envy you those sunsets, watching the barges go by and listening to the soft lapping of the water.

Living out here on the Oklahoma prairie ... well, I don't think these folks know what a real river is.

You keep those sandbags handy, hear?


Antique Style said...

How do you do it in the midwest? When it's not flooding, you have tornadoes.

Thanks for a lovely informative post. I have family in St. Louis, nice to learn more about the Mississippi.