National Geographic : 1948 Apr
Chicago Tribune Chicago's Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Join Their Fathers on a Raft Adventure Water, water everywhere, but not for drinking. At Summit, Illinois, the voyagers load their own on the eve of their departure. Ahead of them lie 27 days of lazy drifting on 1,400 miles of waterways. Their outboard motor served them all the way to New Orleans, but the propeller's shear pin snapped when 200 feet from the final landing (page 574). Rex E. Hieronymus, the author (right), and Tom Roth face their sons, Tommy Roth (left), 12 years old, and Dick Hieronymus, 15. 52-miles-a -day average we had hoped for. It was hazy as we swung out into the Mis sissippi next morning, visibility only a mile and a half and the channel so wide we had difficulty reading the navigation markers ashore. At one o'clock we picked up the muddy Missouri on our starboard side. The gradual merging of the two streams was an interesting sight; for a distance of six or seven miles we could see huge blotchy swirls rolling about in the clear water of the Mississippi as the waters of the two rivers intermingled. In an hour or so the whole river was turbid and soiled, as it was to be all the way to the Gulf.* Room for 314 Meancos We had a thrill at the big Mississippi Lock and Dam No. 26 at Alton, Illinois. We ex pected to be put through the smaller of the two locks, but the lock keeper had heard about us and paid us the honor of putting us through the big basin, 600 feet long and 110 feet wide. While the lock chamber was emptying, I calculated there was room in there for 314 rafts the size of the Meanco. We really rattled around. We had been warned about the treacherous current near the Chain of Rocks Bridge above St. Louis. Tommy was at the helm as we approached it, Tom checking on the charts. Young Tommy brought the Meanco through the eddies like a veteran, and soon we were anchored off Market Street at St. Louis.t * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, "Taming the Outlaw Missouri River," by Frederick Simpich, November, 1945; and "Trailing History Down the Big Muddy," by Lewis R. Freeman, July, 1928. t See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, by Frederick Simpich, "These Missourians," March, 1946; and "Missouri, Mother of the West," April, 1923.