KNOWING THE BIG RIVER

“One does not know a living thing till one knows not merely its past history, but how it is likely to react and behave under specific circumstances.”

“The more complex the object the more complex is the knowing of it.” – from ‘Knowing God’ by J.I.Packer

A lot of scientists have been working to show how they ‘know’ the Big River, monitoring, measuring water quality, water flow, sediment character, 100 different ways. Painting a picture of the river.  But do they truly KNOW the Big River?

I’ve come to the conclusion that NO ONE knows the Big River.
I don’t know it, but I want to.
It is slow to reveal itself to you.
I’ve pulled 100’s of tires from it.
I’m planning to paddle its length to help me know it and hopefully let others begin to know it.

Everyone knows something about the Big River, but the more you talk to people, the less it seems to actually be known.  There are a few that may know one section well.  Property owners like vintner Bill Mount know the multitude of facets and flows by their land.  An outfitter like Steve Anderson/Cherokee Landing knows a six mile stretch quite well.  He manicures it like we might trim the grass in our front yard.  It must be canoeable, floatable, always passable.  For him it is six miles of CURB APPEAL.  He wants to give his river paddlers the best experience possible.  Much like the Lalumondiere Mill & Rivergardens, it is the unique blend of river landscape and built environment that makes it seem timeless.

But what about all the other facets of the river? The 100’s, formerly 1,000’s of tires that had been deposited there? The Desloge Tailings Dam that creates a huge amphitheatre on its sharp bend of the river.  Bone Hole and its borehole spouts that constantly feed cold underground water into the river from the galena mines below, dormant for 40+ years.  Mineral Fork draining 100 barite tailings piles into the Big River, failing septic systems that add their aroma to the mix.  Yet through it all is the incessant wildlife that thrives in and along its bank – the small mouth bass, deer, herons, fox, beaver, kingfishers, occasional eagles, even a bear here or there.

Then there are the historic bigger than life legends that inspire, like the Iron Mountain Baby and those that haunt like Sam Hildebrand and his bushwhacking vengeance.

My desire is to listen to people that know the Big River, and share what I hear.
To see for myself what it is like from end to end, knowing full well that visually its character changes from day to day, week to week, month to month, year by year.
We will also be doing reconnaissance for stream clean opportunities that will hopefully introduce others to the river so they can enjoy it, appreciate it & care for it like we do.

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