Leaves and Hanging Dog Rock

Some days you think you’re going to post some pretty pictures and go to bed early. Then, unfortunately, you start doing a few searches and find yourself going off in all kinds of tangents.

On October 20, Mother and I took the back roads from Perry County down CR 535 through Neely’s Landing and into Cape. I wanted to see if I could find the mass grave from the 1869 Steamboat Stonewall tragedy that killed between 200 and 300 people. I found A cemetery, but I’m pretty sure it’s not THE cemetery. More about that later. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.) The green patch at the end of the road is Dog Holler, just down the road from the High Hill Church and Cemetery.

Obsessed with dogs

Friend Shari and I stopped in at a new restaurant in Pocahontas (more about that later, too). The owner said she and her husband live on a farm in what they call Dog Holler and pointed to a map on the wall (where it is officially known as Dog Hollow). I knew that area. It’s a neatly cleared valley surrounded by rugged hills with wild timber. Just after you go around a curve, you pass a driveway with “Dog Holler” on it.

The time waster was when I decided to look more closely at the map and saw somebody was doggone dog-obsessed. There was Dog Hollow; Hanging Dog Rock; Dog Island; Hanging Dog Creek. Another map showed Hanging Dog Island.

Hanging Dog Rock survey marker

I didn’t find out how the rock got its name, but I found a mention of it in the Results of Spirit Leveling in Idaho, 1896 to 1914, Inclusive, Issues 565-569. To my surprise, the book wasn’t dealing with whether spooks in Idaho were off-kilter. It was a listing of United States Geological Survey markers.

There is one located at “Neely Landing, about 4,000 feet below, 3 feet north of east-west rail fence, on land of Mr. Wagner, between the St. Louis & San Francisco R.R. and the river, about in line with outer point of Neely Landing and highest trees on top of bluff below Hanging Dog Rock, 45 feet east of lower headblock of Neely siding, 115 feet north of cattle guard; iron pipe (U.S.C.E. b.m. triangulation Dutch) (lat 37° 29′ 22.58″; long 89° 29′ 45.57″). It is 350.87 feet above mean sea level.

If you go to page 5 of the book, you can see what all those abbreviations mean and how the makers were placed. Took me right back to Ernie Chiles’ Earth Science class.

Two steamers sunk off Hanging Rock

An 1867 report to the Secretary of War listed two unknown steamers sunk in the Mississippi river off Hanging Dog Rock. This was two years before The Stonewall burned in the general vicinity.

For what it’s worth, the report also mentioned two unknown steamers sunk at Old Cape; Talisman, collision, foot Cape Girardeau bend, and two unnamed steamers at the foot of Cape Girardeau bend. That’s about where the barges broke away and sank earlier this month.

[By the way, for my friends who are ghost chasers and UFO fanatics, the light blue object in the sky and the orange orb at the right are not flying saucers and ghostly images; they are internal lens flare caused by shooting almost into the sun.]

You may get more leaves

I thought I had run out of leaf pictures, but they keep showing up when I look at what I’ve taken on this trip. There aren’t many fresh ones to shoot, though. They’re either turning brown or they’ve fallen.

Polarizing filter

I keep a Hoya polarizing filter on my lens almost all of the time. It’s particularly important when you’re shooting colorful foliage. Not only does it make the sky a nice, dark blue, but, more importantly, it cuts through the reflections ON the leaves, making them appear richer.

Sometimes, though, you don’t want to knock the reflections down. When I walked back to the car after shooting one of these photos, I noticed a really cool reflection in my car windows. If I twisted the polarizer to eliminate the reflection of the trees, all I would have had was a photo of the interior of a messy van. That, of course, was not my goal, so I minimized the effect of the filter.





Tragedy at Neely’s Landing

Oct. 27, 1869, the steamboat The Stonewall, heavily laden with about 300 passengers, tons of cargo and 200 head of livestock was southbound on the Mississippi River near Neely’s Landing, bound for Cape Girardeau, Memphis and New Orleans. The river was low and the boat was running “slow wheel.”

A candle or lantern overturned or a passenger dropped a spark onto hay on the lower deck, which caught fire. Before the blaze was discovered, it had gained considerable headway.

Burning boat ran aground

An Oct. 27, 1936, Missourian reprised the incident on its 67th anniversary, drawing upon the memories of R.W. Harris, who was eight years old when the boat burned not far from his home at Neely’s Landing. When the crew couldn’t extinguish the fire, the captain headed the boat to the shore but struck a sandbar. The boat gradually turned in the current, causing the north wind to carry the fire through her.

Passengers caught like rats

“Panic stricken passengers were caught like rats on the blazing boat, between which and the Missouri shore was 150 feet or more of swift, icy cold water.” The flames were visible 1-1/2 miles away.

Some held onto horses

Four oarsmen went out on a skiff to rescue passengers. They were Lowrie Hope, Martin O’Brian, Frank West and Derry Hays,”the latter being a Negro.” They managed to rescue some passengers. Others were seen to walk into the flames; others jumped into the river, some forcing horses from the lower decks to swim while they clung to the animal’s tails.

209 to 300 drowned or burned

Depending on which account you read, somewhere between 209 and 300 persons perished from fire or drowning, making it one of the nation’s worst inland waterway disasters. Sixty or 70 victims were buried in a mass grave on the Cotter farm.

Scorched paper money found in safe

When the hull had cooled, what was left of the freight was salvaged and sold. Mr. Harris recalled that his father bought a firkin of butter from Wisconsin. One of the horses, scarred from burns, was long owned by Franklin Oliver, who called him Stonewall. When the boat’s safe was opened, only paper money, scorched to a crisp, was found, much to the public’s disappointment.

Bones still found 67 years later

Since the catastrophe, the paper said, the location has been called Stonewall bar. At low water, broken queensware, coal, nails, bits of iron and even bones are still reminders of the disaster.

Two accounts of the Stonewall’s burning

Large quarry north of Neely’s Landing

Neely’s Landing Quarry is located north of what remains of the town.