Holly Johnson: Enhancing and enjoying our natural waterways

Published 6:50 am Saturday, July 18, 2020

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My husband and I recently canoed a portion of Turtle Creek.

I’ve already mentioned once that we like to take drives on gravel, so for years he has been asking why the creek is so wide northwest of Austin.

There are a variety of resources to help find this kind of information, but I went to the source who I knew could help me find answers the fastest-Tim Ruzek of the Cedar River Watershed District office.

Rollin’ down the river. Photo provided

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The info he provided not only answered questions, but also qualified me to enter the drawing for a kayak since I sent in a photo of our canoe trip.  I call that a win-win!

Tim sent me a few articles from the Mower County Transcript that described the dredging of Turtle Creek.

Excerpt from the Aug. 25, 1909 edition:

“The big ditch which is being dredged out from Rice Lake across Moscow township and down the Turtle Creed is finished nearly to the west edge of the county poor farm.  The S.M. railroad bridge was taken out Saturday evening and the dredger went through Sunday.  The old bridge was put back on piles ready for the Monday morning trains…The dredging work will end just above the Carter bridge on Oakland avenue and the machine will be taken out there….Hundreds were out from Austin and surrounding country last Sunday to see the dredge at work crossing the S.M. right of way.”

This was a major drainage project benefitting the farmers surrounding the creek, but it also became a source for waterway enjoyment.

George Hormel found pleasure in water recreation from an early age.  His brother, Henry, wrote in “One Generation Under the American Flag” about the family’s days in Toledo, Ohio. “When we were old enough to go sailing and enjoy the river boats, father would take us and show us how to manage the oars in rowing the little boat, and in handling the rigging of the sail boats. Father dearly loved and enjoyed boating and this added to our pleasure.”

George wrote in his autobiography, “The Open Road,” about a trip down a bigger waterway, the Mississippi.

“It was in 1897 that my Uncle Jay (Decker) wrote that he was thinking of taking a vacation, could I come along? I replied that I, too, had thought of a trip – how about steamboating down the Mississippi?  We set off to Saint Louis…We had planned to turn back at Cairo, Illinois, to which Father had made a steamboating trip as a boy, in 1845. But we had begun to enjoy life so much on the stern-wheeler that we went on to Memphis, Vicksburg, and then to New Orleans.”

Water is a vital element in our world and I am glad I finally took some time to enjoy it for its recreation value last weekend.

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