The Riverlands

Anne and I went to the Riverlands Conservation Area on Sunday.  We brought our bikes along and rode for 18 miles.  The Riverlands is a very flat floodplain and there was very little traffic about, so the combination made for a very easy and enjoyable bicycle ride.  We saw lots of birds there, including Great Blue Herons, Great White Egrets and an Indigo Bunting.  There were also a number of birds that we couldn’t capture on film and some we couldn’t identify.

Today’s header shows a pair of Great White Egrets in their wedding dresses and attended by their grooms.  In case you were wondering, that is mud that they are standing in, Mississippi River mud.  They were there for a photo-shoot.  Whether it was a wedding or fashion shoot, I could not say, but I’m betting that no one is going to walk down the aisle in those dresses anymore.

At the northernmost point of the Riverlands, the above war memorial stands.  It stands on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River, opposite the city of Alton, Illinois.  This memorial lists the names of about 200 Confederate prisoners-of-war.  They died from smallpox, while in captivity at the Alton Federal Military Prison.  During the war contagious prisoners were transported to a temporary hospital on the Missouri side of the river, a safe distance from Alton. 

Seventy years after the Civil War, in 1935, during the construction of the original Lock & Dam 26, their cemetery was inadvertently rediscovered.  Their graves lie today at the bottom of the regulation pool for the newer Mel Price Lock & Dam. Today being Memorial Day, I thought their story deserved telling.

While we were biking in and around the Riverlands, we came upon a small church cemetery, Espedeza Cemetery, on Red Schoolhouse Road.  The entire cemetery was ringed with red, white and blue bunting in honor of Memorial Day.  More than a few of the graves were also decorated with American Flags.  As we were passing the cemetery, a car pulled up to it and stopped.  Two older women got out of the car.  I assume that they were stopping to pay their respects to a loved one or maybe loved ones.  I say that I assume, because I do not know.  We did not stop, but rode on, leaving them their privacy.

In addition to all of the pictures that Anne and I took at the Riverlands, we also got two photos sent to us, one from each of my brothers.  Pictured above is a panoramic photograph sent by Chris.  It shows a portion of the Pinnacles National Monument in central California.  When I go to California next month we plan on visiting this site.  Frank’s photo while interesting, was not in keeping with the solemnity of this day.  I’ll hold on to it until after the holiday.

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