Great Rivers Museum Celebrates 20th AnniversaryView Source
Officials and well-wishers gathered on an unseasonably warm autumn day November 4 at Melvin Price Locks and Dam in Alton, Ill., to celebrate the National Great Rivers Museum’s 20th anniversary.
Adults and children strolled among dozens of booths set up outside by the Corps and river supporters, enjoying the weather. Among other groups, Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals had a booth where young children could manipulate a scale model of an unloader to unload corn into a floating scale “barge.” Several farm groups also had booths.
At noon, remarks were given at an outside platform by Col. Andy Pannier, who assumed duties as the 55th commander of the St. Louis District on July 21 after serving as the deputy commander of the Mississippi Valley Division, where he also served as secretary of the Mississippi River Commission. Pannier noted that 210,000 people work at jobs supported by Corps visitor centers.
He was followed by David Goins, mayor of Alton, who mentioned that he had recently visited the Mississippi River’s headwaters at the annual meeting of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative in Bemidji, Minn.
Paul Rohde, vice president of the Midwest area for Waterways Council Inc., spoke of the history of the old Lock and Dam 26 and how it was replaced by the Melvin Price Locks and Dam, which opened in 1986 after many delays and much opposition from railroads and environmental groups. It is also the 20th anniversary of WCI itself, the only national organization that advocates for a modern, efficient and well-maintained inland waterway system. Rohde spoke of the strategic value of the nation’s 12,000 miles of navigable waterways, which carry everything “from ammonia to zinc.” Our waterways help U.S. farmers stay competitive with tough export competitors like Ukraine and Brazil, he said.
One of the ways WCI educates elected officials about the value and importance of the inland waterways and the locks and dams that regulate them is with regular guided tours. “There is no substitute for in-person experience,” Rohde said. Tours of Melvin Price Locks and Dam were offered as part of the celebration.
Rohde also mentioned the ongoing expansion of Lock and Dam 25 upriver, about which the St. Louis District also had a booth at the event.