Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Baby, the rain ...

Thought sure we were going to get by without rain today despite all the flood warnings, but no, we didn't --- as you can see about 6:30 p.m. from inside the garage looking out across the modestly flooded gravel area in front of the house. Lots of rain, short time.

Like every other yahoo in town I chased the fire trucks a little later, figuring Court Avenue had turned into Court Creek again --- shows to go ya what happens when you build a street down a creek bed. And it had, so I made quick turn through the museum's circle drive to make sure nothing had washed away there and stuck to the hilltops coming home.

No apparent damage at the Woodlawn Apartments at the foot of my hill, although the little drainage ditch that channels the water off my back 40 and the neighbor's through a culvert and onward through the Woodlawn grounds was running bankful and beyond.

I've been fussing about media coverage of high water around the state. This is one of those times when I miss the newspaper Iowa used to depend upon, now sadly shrunk and shriveled into what Des Moines likes to call the metro. Plenty of coverage on WHO of Saylorville reservoir and river levels inside Des Moines, but my thoughts tend to turn downstream in times like these --- to Eddyville, Ottumwa, Keosauqua and beyond, and there's not much coverage there. The Ottumwa Courier is supposed to cover those towns and does, sort of, but it's kind of a shadow of its former self, too.

So now I rely on a Google News search town by town and that generally turns up enough reports to reassure me that Eddyville, Eldon, Selma, Douds-Leando, Keosauqua, Bentonsport and Bonaparte haven't gone down the crick --- yet.

Quite frankly it's not clear to me who is supposed to be covering southeast Iowa these days --- Ottumwa? Fort Madison? Keokuk? And does anyone care? There are advantages after all, but disadvantages too, to being ignored by the media.

And here's another question I want answered. What would the flooding situation have been like had we not had Saylorville and Red Rock plugging up the Des Moines River and Rathbun on the Chariton? I'm just never sure these "inland oceans" of ours were ever anything other than elaborate ploys to create recreational areas at the cost of wild rivers and sometimes wonder if they actually do any good flood-wise. Any information appreciated.


At least I got the grass cut today --- all at once since I finally fired up the old Snapper (the neighbor kindly inflated a low tire, sharpened the blade and installed a new seal to halt a very minor oil leak). The old girl started on the first pull after several months of inactivity --- nearly scared me to death.

I don't mind mowing lawn by hand and it's been necessary much of the time this year because of the variable rate at which the lawn dries and the near constant rain, but it was just too darned humid today. So it felt great to have wheels again and get the whole thing done in about an hour.


In between other things I've been amusing myself with a wonderful photo artifact that probably dates from about 1870 after two copies turned up in the museum collection. It consists of about 45 photographs, each a little larger than a big postage stamp, arranged on an 11-inch by 14-inch sheet of photo paper backed by cardboard.

My guess is the photographs were all taken at about the same time and arranged into this montage so the photographer would have something sell other than his professional services. If I'm right about the photos being taken at roughly the same time, then it probably was the late fall of 1868 or winter 1868-69. I can tell that because the first St. Andrew's Church was being finished up in the fall of 1868 and the photo of it included in the montage shows scaffolding still in place on the roof, building trash scattered around and naked pilings (many of Chariton's first buildings were built on pilings rather than foundations because of the scarcity then both of brick and quarried stone).

Anyhow, the photo above is not of the church but instead of the "Melville house," most likely located just across the street south of the church. Of course none of these buildings are around today, or if they are they're buried so deeply inside more modern-looking structures we can't identify them.

The Melville House was located on the southwest corner of the intersection of South Eighth Street and Court Avenue --- there's a grassy lot there now, marking the site where the gas station that followed this house and perhaps its successor once stood. That's half a block east of the southeast corner of the square.

Mae Glenn Gasser's wonderful old house, taken down in the 1960s after she died and replaced by an oddly positioned set of townhouse/apartments, used to be just to the west.

I admit this is not the best photograph in the world, but it is a 300 percent enlargement at 600 dpi of the original and that original, just because glass negatives were so wonderful, contains an astonishing amount of detail.

1 comment:

Ed said...

I used the NOAA Website for river level predictions here in SE Iowa. They are fairly accurate in my experience.

It is almost a chicken or the egg question about the big reservoirs. They being the chicken and the numerous river dikes being the egg. But between them, we certainly see more flooding of our towns along the river than we ever used to without them.

I heard Rathbun got almost seven inches a few days ago. Hopefully you didn't get all that.