Nebraska - Iowa
Missouri River Quest '07 - Page 15
Shortly after I left camp, I spotted what appeared to be a 150-foot tall rocket ship on the
South Dakota side of the river. I thought I had really found something neat until I drew
nearer and saw it was just a tower that held up a pipe crossing the river.
Knife River, the company I work for, was going to help me out when I made it to Sioux City.
I called Dan Lewis when I was about twenty miles from town and he arranged to meet me
at The Marina Hotel. Shortly after that, I got a call from Fred Bauer, the president of Knife
River. He said he was out of town and couldn’t meet me, but it was really nice of him to
I paddled past miles of enormous trophy homes, and finally into Sioux City. I met Dan at
the boat ramp near the hotel. I put all my gear in Dan’s truck and chained my boat to a
Knife River paid for my hotel room and meals, and I very much enjoyed the time I spent
with Dan. He enjoys outdoor adventures, too, so we had plenty to talk about.
It’s nice to be sleeping in a real bed tonight, but I don’t like leaving the boat at the dock. I’m
sure it will be OK. Dan will be meeting me at 7:00 AM with my gear and I’ll be back on the
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Dan brought my gear to the ramp at 7:00 this morning. I was glad to see him, and even
more glad to see the boat was all right. I loaded my boat, said my thank you’s and hit the
I’m really lucky to work for Knife River. There aren’t many places that would let me take a
trip like this, let alone help out! I also like what I do there and that’s a very important part of
In Sioux City, I entered the navigation channel. From here to the Mississippi, the Army
Corps maintains a channel 300 feet wide and nine feet deep to facilitate barge traffic. In
order to do this, they have narrowed the river to a third of its original width. The outside of
every curve is lined with rock, and the inside is comprised of wing dikes that push water
into the channel. The current is flowing at about 7 mph near St. Louis.
I covered 65 miles of water today. I faced a stiff headwind, but that seems to be the way
the Missouri is. At least the narrower river let me hide from the wind a little.
There were some very pretty bluffs and wooded sections of river today, but for the most
part, the banks were lined with trailer houses and lots for sale. It’s a shame that so many
people are trying to crowd into the last beautiful places in this country.
Just before I stopped for the night, I passed my first towboat. It was only pushing four
barges, but that was enough. The river isn’t very wide up here. I’m not worried about the
tows, though. They move slowly and stay in the channel. It’s the powerboats you have to
watch out for!
I checked my maps and I was forty miles from Omaha this morning. I decided to continue
into town. It would be another twenty miles before I was through town. I made it to the last
sure campsite before town a little after 3:00. That left me plenty of time to get through, so I
There was quite a bit of pleasure boat traffic, but most of them were watching where they
were going. I was only almost run over once.
It was pretty impressive paddling past the airport. The jets were taking off and landing
right over the river. I stopped on a sandbar to watch the show for a while.
From there, I entered the industrial area of town. There were culverts everywhere dumping
strange smelling water in the river. There were three colors of discharge. There was
green, brown, and yellow. I would have to say the yellows were usually the smelliest.
I expected to pass a lot of barges in this area, but didn’t see any. There were only a few
barge facilities, and they looked like they hadn’t been used in years. I have paddled 120
miles of navigation channel and seen only a few army corps barges. I wonder how much
it costs every year to maintain that channel?
I passed the impressive riverfront of Omaha and then the casinos of Council Bluffs. There
were a good number of homeless camps on the Iowa side. I then passed the very smelly
Omaha sewage treatment plant, and then entered a pretty tree lined section of river.
I found a nice shaded campsite on a sandbar about ten miles from town. There are high
school kids floating by in mom and dad’s boat with the radio cranked up, and someone is
setting off fireworks on the other side of the river, but at least I’m out of Omaha.