I took a grab shot passing through Future City the other night. (If you don’t know where that is, hang on a couple of days.) When I started writing a post on it this afternoon, I ran across some interesting information that needed more than one photo to break up the type.
I looked at the time, checked for when sunset was going to be, and realized there was just enough time to saddle up, drive 30 miles, shoot some new photos and get to Shemwell’s Barbecue for some good catfish before they closed. (If you know where Shemwell’s is, then you probably know where Future City is.)
On the way home, just as I rounded the bend to where Hwy 3 parallels the Mississippi River on the north end of Thebes, the sun dipped below the horizon, leaving this view behind. If you click on the photo to make it larger, you’ll notice a tiny white dot of light in the middle of the shadows on the far bank. That might be coming from The Riverhouse (or, maybe not).
When Ernie Chiles and I made a pass over Cairo and the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers on August 13, 2014, we orbited over Thebes for a few minutes to capture the Thebes Courthouse (soon to come) and the 1905 railroad bridge.
I’ve always been fascinated by that bridge, and I’ve written about it and photographed it over the years.
Most of lowland Thebes was covered with Mississippi River floodwaters this spring. I noticed in the fading daylight that the roads had been graded and there was a big pile of mud off to the side of them, so I assumed they were clear when I drove toward the river.
Big mistake. A brief downpour had turned the mud on the road to something slicker than ice. I knew I couldn’t stop or I’d never get going again, so I tried to keep it slow and straight until I got to a point where I had to make a right turn. I was able to kick it around, but about 75 feet down that road, the car went into a slow-speed skid.
I used all the techniques I had learned over years of winter driving. At the last second, I cut the wheels to the left and tried to use the front wheel drive to pull me out of the slide, but we ended up bumping up against the curb, which stopped us.
I give my passengers credit. Unlike Friend Jan, who would have been pounding on the dash and screaming, “We’re all gonna die!!!” Anne sat stoically and braced herself for the impact. Mother said she’d have screamed, but she was busy biting down on a pillow to keep from doing it.
We exited Thebes no worse for wear, but it took me three bucks in the car wash the next day to get all the mud off.
Mother, Friend Jan and I were making the normal tourist loop: Thebes, Horseshoe Lake, Cairo and Kentucky Lake when we spotted fog swirling around a work boat just north of Thebes. It was like the fog was following the channel. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)
Thebes railroad bridge built in 1905
We followed it downstream to the Thebes Landing RV Park and Campground where it disappeared under the 1905 Thebes railroad bridge just as a long freight crossed the river.
River made safer
The extraordinary low water this year has made the Thebes stretch of the Mississippi particularly dangerous because it brings the bottom of the barges perilously close to rock pinnacles. The Corps of Engineers was originally planning to blast them from the river, but they found that most could be removed with equipment like this.
I was amused to read panicky letters to the editor from people who were sure that the blasts would trigger another New Madrid Earthquake. Those worrywarts don’t realize the number of contractors, farmers and quarries in the area that are blasting every day.