My new book Historic Bridges of Southeast Minnesota is released. It is from The History Press, a division of Arcadia Publishing, and features 142 photos of beautiful bridges with 32 of those photos in full color. These bridges, across both the Mississippi River and the many tributaries, are a lifeline to the economy, transportation, and lifestyle of the area. I took more than a thousand photos of these bridges and found many more photos in the excellent historical centers throughout the region. This was a great project for me to work on, and now that I have the book in hand, I am very pleased with how it turn out. Read more on my publications page.
These nice warm summer days have been excellent for getting out on our boat. We were out recently and the American Queen cruise ship passed by us. The American Queen is 420 feet long and can hold 417 guests and 172 crew members. It was impressive to watch her go by.
I've had a chance to review both the cover proof and the page proofs of my upcoming book Historic Bridges of Southeast Minnesota. It is being published by The History Press and is slated for release on September 11. It looks good in the proofs and I am very excited to hold a copy of it in my hand. Not long now.
I've really enjoyed several trips to Winona to play my djembe with the Winona Community Drum Circle. Tonight I joined the group to play for an hour at Peter's Biergarten, an outdoor venue on a beautiful evening. A dozen drummers showed up and the rhythms were incredible. What a fun evening!
With a string of warm days, we have been back out on Lake Pepin in our pontoon boat. The lake is actually a wide spot in the Mississippi River where the current is gone and there is plenty of room for many boats to spread out and have space to float and enjoy the sun and breeze. We love going out late afternoon with some sandwiches and having dinner on the boat -- the best seats in the best waterfront restaurant on the lake.
We drove to Des Moines, Iowa, to ride our bikes on several trails. We started with the beautiful High Trestle Trail in Woodward, then went into Des Moines to ride some urban trails, connecting three of them with a loop around Gray's Lake. On our way home, we stopped in Boone to try the Rail Explorers. They have pedal cars with electric motors and they ride right on the rails. The highlight is crossing two high bridges with no siderails. What a unique experience to ride down to the river and back on a car with steel wheels clicking along the railroad tracks. Here are two photos.
For some time, we had wanted to visit Mystery Cave in southern Minnesota. It is one of the state parks, and the one-hour tours often fill up. We got on a morning tour, and loved looking at the stalactites and stalagmites forming in the cave. It is a fairly level cave, so it is an easy walk to see several rooms, but we were especially excited, at the far point of the tour, to gaze at Turquoise Lake, a beautiful pool of clear water. After the cave tour, we drove on to Lake Louise State Park and rode our bikes on the Shooting Star Trail, an asphalt rails-to-trails route. We rode from Lake Louise to Taopi and back on a warm, sunny afternoon. Here is a picture of Turquoise Lake inside Mystery Cave.
This morning I went canoeing in the Mississippi backwaters near Red Wing with Bruce Ause. We wound our way through trees and downed logs to look at several Great Blue Heron nests and watch the birds fly in and out. We also saw several eagles, but the highlight of the trip was to come up on a pair of Sandhill Cranes that had built their nest on a small island. Bruce saw them first, and it took me a minutes for my eyes to adjust to see them, blended in perfectly with the background. We were lucky to see them, and they topped off a perfect morning of paddling in Minnesota.
Each spring we go see parts of the Mississippi River shore near our home to check out the water levels. This year has been exceptional. All of the local city parks along the river and the related boating ramps are deep under water. Tons of sticks, logs, and debris have washed up on the grassy picnic areas, and many of the picnic tables are barely peeking out of the water. Some of the retaining walls are completely under water. It is amazing to see this rise and fall because the river is so big, that to raise it one inch requires a vast amount of water, but to raise it several feet baffles the imagination. Here are two photos showing high water.
I just received an email letting me know that my next book, Historic Bridges in Southeast Minnesota, will be released on 9/11/23. It will be published by The History Press, the same company that published my last book Historic Disasters in Southeast Minnesota. I'm very excited to see the new book when I arrives.
Photo by John Jancik
Dr. Steve Gardiner is the author of nine books and over 1,000 articles.