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August 29, 2018
Confluence and Canal

After this morning’s terrific visit to Discovery Park of America, the rest of our day aboard the steamboat was just as terrific.

This afternoon at 4:45 pm, we passed the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. This is the point where the two rivers come together, and it is the largest river confluence in the United States. Gail was anticipating this moment so much, she had the crew call her when it was about to occur.

Image from mappery

Images from NASA

We were surprised to find only a few fellow passengers join us out on deck. (As Brance, one of the entertainers, remarked, “They can eat dinner any time! How often do you get to see this?) Fortunately, we were joined by the onboard “Riverlorian” Jerry Hay, a walking river encyclopedia who shared all kinds of factoids and trivia related to the confluence.

The confluence of the Mississippi River (left) and Ohio River (right)

Gail with official “Riverlorian” Jerry Hay

At the point of confluence (it is literally a “point” of land at Fort Defiance Park), you are simultaneously in three states: Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky. You can see two different colors of water: the Ohio River is greenish-blue, while the Mississippi River is brown. While the Ohio River is the larger river by far, it is considered to end at this point. Instead, the waterway that continues downriver is called the “Mississippi River” because that is how it was originally explored.

The Mississippi River is to our west (port side)

The Ohio River is to our east (starboard side)

The “point” of confluence at Fort Defiance: note the two different colors of water

There is a town at the confluence – Cairo (pronounced “KAY-roh”), but it is not considered a cruise-friendly port. Instead, we will take our third side-trip away from the Mississippi River, and cruise up the Ohio River to arrive at Paducah tomorrow. (Why? Jerry says it’s to make this leg of the cruise seven days.)

As we were sitting at dinner in the J.M. White Dining Room later that evening, we looked out the windows to see huge walls on either side of the boat. We were entering our first canal! We rushed through the rest of dinner (Russell still had two desserts), then went out on deck. Better late than never, we were able to catch the last of the canal fade away into the darkness of night.

Our first river canal!

As a result of our detour from New Madrid to Hickman, we will get a full day in Paducah tomorrow instead of the scheduled half-day. (We will also expand to a full day in St. Louis.) We are still having fun!


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