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confluences - the Illinois
confluences - the Illinois
July 16, 2022

The Illinois river joins the Mississipi just above Grafton, IL, in the normal series of islands that the two rivers have built up where they meet. Interestingly, the Illinois and Mississippi parallel each other for miles, each running mostly south until the Miss turns east, then north, then east again, and the Illinois turns east to meet her.

This is another time when the river coming into the main stream is much more turbid than the Mississippi. The Illinois is not just khaki colored, it's almost a dull yellow. The two rivers don't mix very much before Grafton, which means that Grafton is actually on the Illinois river, and on the Mississippi in name only - though one can see the Mississippi out there, about fifty feet from shore.

I am now connected by water to a large chunk of land in the center of Illinois, all the way up to Chicago. This shouldn't be, of course, because the Chicago River originally drained into Lake Michigan. But famously the City of Chicago reversed the flow of the river to send their effluent away down the continent, rather than drink from the same source (the lake) that they shit into. This made sense, for them. It also seems like a pretty big "fuck you" to their early rival, St. Louis, because the Illinois just happens to meet the Mississippi just upstream from St. Louis.

One of the weird things about all of this is that I am now technically connected by water to a great lake, Lake Michigan, and all of its tributaries.