Big River Magazine
Explore the Upper Mississippi

May-June 2016

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The May-June issue is sold out online, but is still available at many bookstores and other retail stores.

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Read stories from past issues of Big River

Editorial: Replacing an Aging Paradigm
Dams have unbalanced an environment that evolved for millions of years.

Father Mazzuchelli's churches on the Upper Miss Jan 2009
By Dean Klinkenberg

2015 Mississippi River Paddlers
By John Sullivan

Roll Me to the River Jan-Feb 2016
Rig up a trailer on a fold-up bicycle and pedal your canoe to the river. By John Gabbert

The Big Campus: Augsburg's River Semester Nov-Dec 2015
The river was their classroom for three months. By Ryan Johnson

Carp Poetry Winners - July-Aug 2015

Nighthawk Twilight - July-Aug 2015

12 Great Rivertown Gardens (pdf) - May-June 2015

Where's the Carp? Commercial fishermen have noticed an overall decline in the number of common carp - May-June 2015

Sex Life of Floodplain Trees - March-April 2015

Carp Catch 22 - where can you buy wild-caught smoked carp, and why isn't it at your local grocer's? (pdf) March-April 2015

When Big Mama Ruled the Rivers - the Sprague (pdf) Jan-Feb 2015

Bringing an Old Boat Back to Life Carl Henry (pdf) Jan-Feb 2015

Outdoor Dreams Come True - North American Squirrel Association (pdf) Nov-Dec 2014

River Pilgrims (pdf) by Anna Segner, from Nov-Dec 2014

Kickapoo Valley Reserve Ice Caves (pdf) by Joan Kent, from Jan-Feb 2014

Turtle Dogs (pdf) by Pamela Eyden, from July-Aug 2010

Cardinal flowers on the Mississippi (pdf) by John Sullivan

Mapping Time and the River (pdf) by Ryan Johnson, from March-April 2014

Download Army Corps 2011 Navigation Charts

Essay Only the River is Real, by Vincent Kavaloski, from March-April 2014

Dreaming of a trip down the river? Read about boaters taking a voyage of a lifetime down the Mississippi on River Trips.

Sand Dollars Mining Frac Sand in the River Valley (pdf) Some of the best sand for fracture drilling is found in the exposed rocky bluffs along the Upper Mississippi. From July-August 2011 Big River.

Strip Mining the Upper Mississippi (pdf) Aerial views of sand mines. From July-August 2013 Big River.

Covering the Heart of the Driftless Area for 23 Years

May-June 2016

John Banvard's Big Idea
The Mississippi River starred in the first major motion picture, in 1846.
By Joe Byrd

Imagine a roll of canvas, the visible portion the size of a movie screen, twelve feet high. A massive scroll, turned by a crank, pulls an ever-changing panorama across your field of vision. The basic concept is similar to a movie projector or videocassettes — a moving image is unwound from one reel onto the other as it is viewed. This is the first movie — if we're being generous.

By Lyndon Torstenson

Each spring, when channels rise, buds swell and birds sing, river educators from the National Park Service and its partners bring boatloads of students to the river in the Twin Cities. Now celebrating 20 years, Big River Journey has hosted more than 70,000 students on these in finely orchestrated explorations of the river’s science and heritage.


Coldwater Cave
A Hidden Jewel of the Driftless Area
By Capt. Ted Peck

One of the greatest treasures in thee Driftless Area — the heart of the American heartland — is hiding right under our feet.

(Jordan Kjome)

Explore a Driftless Area Cave

Although Coldwater Cave is not open to the public, there are several caves in the Driftless Area that are. Most of these caves provide guided tours. Some are private and some are operated by the state. You can check hours, prices and other details online.

Maquoketa Caves State Park, Maquoketa
Spook Cave, McGregor
Crystal Lake Cave, Dubuque

Mystery Cave, Forestville
Niagara Cave, Harmony

Cave of the Mounds, Blue Mounds
Crystal Cave, Spring Valley
Eagle Cave, Blue River

Illinois has closed its state-owned caves to prevent the spread of white nose syndrome, a fatal disease of bats.

See more photos and read the whole story
in the May-June Big River.
Buy now

Call 507-454-5949 for info on digital subscriptions.

Overlook at Pike's Peak State Park in Iowa.


Wyalusing State Park

Pikes Peak State Park

Cassville Car Ferry

See Highlights for this issue's Table of Contents.


Night-time bowfishing events OKd for the Upper Mississippi Refuge in June and July. Press Release (pdf)


River News

River Trips

Back Issues

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Back Issues

Books and Products

Deck on Deck: Towboating in the Twin Cities by Capt. Bob Deck

What's it like to work on a towboat? Deck on Deck is a first-hand account of life on river towboats in the 1970s and 80s. These stories will entertain you as Bob Deck recalls his days as a deckhand on the Mississippi River.


Mississippi River guidebooks
By Dean Klinkenberg

Quad Cities Travel Guide

Lansing, Iowa, to Le Claire Travel Guide

Driftless Area Travel Guide

More info and ordering info.


Advertising Rates

Advertising Specifications

Live River Links

Weather forecast for Upper Mississippi cities

River levels on the Upper Mississippi

Towboat-watching resource: Boats in pools and queued in locks.

Dreaming of a trip down the river? Read about boaters taking a voyage of a lifetime down the Mississippi on River Trips.

Upper Mississippi River Blogs



Read More from Big River

Big River Travel MapDozens of scenic Mississippi overlooks and places to go.

Read Stories about the Upper Mississippi River from past issues of Big River Magazine.

See complete issues from 2006 and 2007 online (PDFs). Select issues here

Volunteer groups on the river - a nine-part series about non-profit groups making a difference on the Upper Mississippi

Check the weather forecast and river levels for Upper Mississippi River cities.

More on overlooks

River organizations

Links to Upper Mississippi Resources

Take a look back at our April Foolishness river stories.