Rampant Missouri stirs memories
by Jerome Wassmann
Jun 26, 2011 | 481 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jerome Wassmann
Jerome Wassmann
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First it was the Mississippi River and now it’s the Missouri River. Both have reeked havoc on cities, towns, fields and farms as they have rambled uncontrollably out of their banks and over their levies. Both go through my home state of Missouri and I can’t tell you the number of times I have crossed them for one reason or another. Since my brother still lives in Missouri and not an overly long distance from either one of these major waterways I quizzed him about the Mississippi getting out of its banks.

Having been to St. Louis on many occasions I knew that the river actually came very, very close to the downtown area and the famous St. Louis Arch. Having also been in that area of the city shopping and visiting various restaurants I was curious if the river had caused any damage to the businesses that border the banks of the river. He assured me that at that point it had not done any damage. Although the “Mighty Mississippi” is not running as rampant as it has been the Missouri acting up may cause it to start rising again. Hopefully all levies will continue to hold and its banks will keep it contained.

Reading about the “Big Muddy” (nickname for the Missouri River) going bonkers these last several days reminded me of the times our family would have to turn around and go back home on several occasions when traveling to my grandparents homes in Boonville, Missouri, because the Missouri was out of its banks. During the rainy season and in the spring when all the snow had melted it was not uncommon for the Missouri to flood the bottom lands that surrounded the area around the river.

Since my home town, Chillicothe, is about 100 miles north of where my grandparents lived we would always have to cross the Missouri River at Waverly, Missouri. I can still see quite vividly in my mind the bridge that spanned the river. It was old, old, old and narrow, narrow, narrow. In fact it was so narrow that cars could meet cars on it and cars could meet trucks on it but it was nearly impossible for a truck to meet another truck on it, especially if it were two large trucks. After I started driving, if I were to get to the bridge at the same time a truck from the other direction arrived at the bridge I would wait and let him cross, then I would cross.

I remember the last years there when traveling across that bridge, I could see the concrete along the edge of the bridge had begun crumbling and that made me even more nervous. When my daughter would make the trip back to Missouri with me she would close her eyes and hold her breath when we crossed that structure. They have since built a new one that is wide enough that I believe you could get three vehicles side by side crossing at the same time.

Although the flooding was inconvenient and caused us to travel another route to get to my grandparents, the flooding had its good points as well. When the water would recede it would leave the fields surrounding it covered with some very rich soil. As a result those fields are some of the most fertile in the state. It is also an area where large agriculture companies test various strains of new seed to see how well they will produce. You will see signs throughout the fields with different numbers denoting that piece of ground is planted with a particular strain of seed.

I’ll have to give my brother a call and see if the “Big Muddy” got out of its banks in that bottom area we so frequently traveled. I know they did a lot of levy work along that part of the river but if it did get out of its banks there will be many, many acres of land covered in a blanket of rich black soil. Just right for great yields of corn and soy beans.

Jerome Wassmann is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle.