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SUNSET CONSTELLATION
SUNSET CONSTELLATION

Alma Marina, City of Alma, Wisconsin—June 2016

44° 20’ 27.46”N 91° 55’ 56.14”W

The cairn glows on the riverbank as the sun sets on the Upper Mississippi River Natural Wildlife and Fish Refuge.

More info

 

BIRCH BONES 1
BIRCH BONES 1

Stump Lake, Minnesota—June 2016 47° 29’ 20”N 94° 45’ 21”W  Elevation 1,350 feet

A version of the White Pointer cairn stands next to birch trees, common in northern Minnesota.

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WATAB BOG
WATAB BOG

Little Rock Lake, Watab, Minnesota—June 2016 45° 42’ 19”N 94° 10’ 35.12”W Elevation 1,040 feet

The ground is soft under this cairn, poised in a bog off Hemlock Road NW.

More info

COFFEE POT LANDING
COFFEE POT LANDING

La Salle Lake Scientific and Natural Area, Minnesota—June 2016

47° 12' 33.336"N 95° 6' 35.8194”W

 

The name Coffee Pot Landing comes from the brown hue of the water, caused by the nearby bogs and iron in the surrounding soil. 

More info

WATER POWER 2
WATER POWER 2

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota—June 2016 45° 08’ 32”N 93° 18’ 43”W Elevation 830 feet

The cairn is dwarfed by the electric transmission towers across the Mississippi River. They carry electricity generated by the Coon Rapids Dam, located a few hundred feet upstream of this site.

More info

WATER POWER 1
WATER POWER 1

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota—June 2016 45° 08’ 32”N 93° 18’ 43”W Elevation 830 feet

A hybrid cairn, assembled from parts of the Blue Boy and Pointer cairn, sits on rocks in front of exposed tree roots, below the Coon Rapids Dam

More info

CROW WING CONFLUENCE
CROW WING CONFLUENCE

Crow Wing State Park, Brainerd, Minnesota—June 2016 46° 9' 39.3834"N 94° 12' 22.068"W

The Blue Buoy cairn makes an appearance at the confluence of the Crow Wing and Mississippi rivers, on the group campground’s shoreline in Crow Wing State Park.

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BOG BALANCE
BOG BALANCE

Leech Lake Indian Reservation, Chippewa National Forest, Minnesota—June 2016  47° 15’ 03”N 94° 13’ 17”W Elevation 1,297 feet

The “ground” on which the cairn rests in a wetland is a raft of grass, moss, and decaying plants, floating on shallow brackish water.

More info

BLUE BUOY 2
BLUE BUOY 2

Great River Bluffs State Park, Minnesota—June 2016 43° 56' 30.25"N 91°23’ 9.26W Elevation 1,205 feet

Photographed on a bluff north of La Crescent, Minnesota. The town of Holland, Wisconsin, can be seen across the Mississippi River.

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FOUNTAIN CITY BAY OVERLOOK
FOUNTAIN CITY BAY OVERLOOK

Merrick State Park, Fountain City, Wisconsin—Sept. 2016 44° 08’ 59”N 91° 44’ 56”W Elevation 850 feet

This stonewall overlooks the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, a part of the important bird migration route along the Mississippi River.

More info

BOAT HOUSES
BOAT HOUSES

Merrick State Park, Fountain City, Wisconsin—Sept. 2016 44° 08’ 59”N 91° 44’ 56”W Elevation 850 feet

Latsch Island, tucked under the Mississippi River bridge connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin, is home to dozens of small floating homes.

More info

BOAT LAUNCH
BOAT LAUNCH

Warrentown, Wisconsin—,September 2016 44° 33’ 31.56”N 92° 18’ 34”W Elevation 690

High water on the Rush River near its confluence with the Mississippi River separates the Blue Pointer cairn from the boat dock.  The birds on the dock don’t seem to mind being rocked by the waves.

More info

 

WATER SPRITE 1
WATER SPRITE 1

South of Hastings, Minnesota—September 2016 44° 39’ 58”N 92° 44’ 10”W Elevation 840 feet

The cairn points north in the flooded woods close to the Highway 58 bridge over the Vermillion River, near Prairie Island. 

More info

WATER SPRITE 2
WATER SPRITE 2

South of Hastings, Minnesota—September 2016 44° 39’ 58”N 92° 44’ 10”W Elevation 840 feet

The White Pointer cairn appears to float on the reflective surface of the floodwaters in the riparian woodland, near the highway 58 Bridge spanning the Vermillion River.

More info

THE DOG HAS HAD ITS DAY
THE DOG HAS HAD ITS DAY

Carmichael Road, Hudson, Wisconsin—September 2016 44° 56’ 48”N 92° 43’ 37”W Elevation 820 feet

At this vacant greyhound racing park, the Trumpet cairn marks a parking lot the size of six football fields where rain can not soak into the ground. 

More info

BYGONE BRIDGE
BYGONE BRIDGE

Walnut Street Causeway, Hudson, Wisconsin—September 2016 44° 58’ 17”N 92° 46’ 02”W Elevation 720 feet

The concrete pillars are the remnants of Hudson’s Highway 12 toll bridge that carried traffic over the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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MINNEHAHA FALLS
MINNEHAHA FALLS

Minnehaha Regional Park, Minneapolis, Minnesota—September 2016 44° 54’ 56”N 93° 12’ 36”W Elevation 760 feet

The Big Blue cairn stands in front of Minnehaha Falls. The name of the falls comes from Native American words meaning waterfall.

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MINNEHAHA FALLS BRIDGE
MINNEHAHA FALLS BRIDGE

Minnehaha Regional Park, Minneapolis, Minnesota—September 2016 44° 54’ 54”N 93° 12’ 31”W Elevation 760 feet

Trails lead alongside the river, downstream from Minnehaha Falls to this stone bridge where the Big Blue cairn stands sentinel.

More info

MENDOTA BRIDGE
MENDOTA BRIDGE

Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul, Minnesota—September 2016 44° 53’ 19”N 93° 11’ 03”W Elevation 740 feet

The Traveling cairn rests in a field of 5-foot-tall yellow flowers. The Highway 55 bridge leading to Mendota Heights is in the background.

More info

HISTORY TREE
HISTORY TREE

Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul, Minnesota—September 2016 44° 53’ 01”N 93° 10’ 57”  Elevation 760 feet

The Traveling cairn nests in a 7-foot diameter hollow tree that may be over 200 years old and a witness to some of the darkest events in American history.

More info

ST. ANTHONY’S TORCH
ST. ANTHONY’S TORCH

St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota—September 2016 44°58' 56"N 93°15' 20"W

The Torch cairn marks the portion of the river between the upper and lower St. Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis.

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OLD MILL TORCH
OLD MILL TORCH

St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota—September 2016 44°58' 53"N 93°15' 13"W

The Torch cairn marks the remnants of an old mill that was constructed in the 1800s to use water from St. Anthony Falls for power. 

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WISCONSIN RIVER CONFLUENCE
WISCONSIN RIVER CONFLUENCE

Wyalusing State Park, Woodman, Wisconsin—September 2016 42° 59’ 37”N 91° 07’ 21”W Elevation 1,130 feet

The Wisconsin River joins the Mississippi River in the distance—less than two miles from the overlook where the Big Blue cairn is balanced.

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COULEE
COULEE

Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, Dubuque, Iowa—September 2016 42° 27’ 49”N 90° 38’ 14”W Elevation 650 feet

The Trumpet cairn rests on a rock outcropping, overlooking this dry streambed, or coulee, in the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area.

More info

HANOVER SPILLWAY 1
HANOVER SPILLWAY 1

 Apple River, Hanover, Illinois—September 2016 42° 15’ 26”N 90° 17’ 11”W Elevation 640 feet

The White Pointer cairn is balanced on the edge of a concrete retaining wall, overlooking the natural spillway in the town of Hanover, Illinois.

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HEADWATERS
HEADWATERS

Lake Itasca State Park, Minnesota—June 2016

47° 14’ 20.46”N 95° 12’ 35.18”W

The Blue Buoy cairn is viewed from the hiking trail bridge, just downstream from Lake Itasca, visible in the background.

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CROSSING THE MISSISSIPPI
CROSSING THE MISSISSIPPI

Lake Itasca State Park, Minnesota—June 2016

47° 14’ 23”N 95° 12’ 28”W

 

The Blue Buoy cairn sits at the point where the Mississippi River emerges from Lake Itasca as a small stream. 

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PRECIPICE
PRECIPICE

Jacobson Campground Road, off Highway 10  Ball Bluff, Jacobson, Minnesota—June 2016 47° 0’ 56”N 93° 16’ 15”W Elevation 1,260 feet

The curves of this cairn’s blue glass are no match for the twists of the Mississippi River, south of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

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LILY PAD AND POISON IVY
LILY PAD AND POISON IVY

Pettibone Park, La Cross, Wisconsin—June 2016 43° 48’ 58”N 91° 15’ 54”W Elevation 650

Nature is found in surprising places. This tranquil pond is found in Pettibone Park beneath the Mississippi River bridge connecting towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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SWAMP SENTINAL
SWAMP SENTINAL

Hok-Si-La City Park and Campground, Lake City, Minnesota—June 2016 44° 28’ 12.26”N 92° 17’ 36.03”W  Elevation 807 feet

This cairn is situated in a swamp along the entrance to Hok-Si-La, a city park and campground on Lake Pepin.

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SHORE SNAILS
SHORE SNAILS

National Forest Road No.3778, off Winnie Road NE, Minnesota—June 2016 47° 23’ 56”N  94° 18’ 38”W Elevation 1,310 feet

A Mississippi River Trails marker leads to this location where the Mississippi River enters Lake Winnibigoshish.

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DOCKS
DOCKS

 Lynxville, Wisconsin—June 2016 43° 14’ 47.88”N 91° 03’ 29.42”W

These old docks have been replaced by a larger, more modern harbor on the other side of the Great River Road in Lynxville, Wisconsin.

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POINTER
POINTER

River Bluffs Regional Park, St. Cloud, Minnesota—June 2016 45° 30’ 19”N 94° 08’ 37”W Elevation 970 feet

The aptly named Clearwater Road leads to the parking lot for this regional park.

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IRISES
IRISES

Northeast of the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Winona, Minnesota—June 2016

44° 04’ 23”N 91° 40’ 37”W

Directions to this site west of downtown Winona, Minnesota, describe how natural beauty is hidden/preserved in the contemporary towns and cities.

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LILY PADS
LILY PADS

Bulger’s Hollow Recreation Area, Clinton, Iowa—October 2017

41° 56’ 04”N 90° 10’ 55”W

Elevation 580 feet

 

The Land and Water cairn sits among the golden lily leaves that wave in the wind.

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GRASS, NOT CORN
GRASS, NOT CORN

Sabula, Iowa—October 2017

42° 0’ 48”N 90° 10’ 11”W

Elevation 790 feet

 

This ornamental grass and the trees behind it are part of a healthy riparian area separating the nearby cornfields from the Mississippi River.

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ROCK RIVER GLOW
ROCK RIVER GLOW

Black Hawk State Historic Site, Rock Island, Illinois—October 2017

41° 27’ 50”N 90° 34’ 0”W

Elevation 550 feet

 

The setting sun at the Blackhawk State Historic Site in the Black Hawk State Forest illuminates this cairn.

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OZZIE’S POINT
OZZIE’S POINT

North of Savanna, Illinois—October 2017

42° 08’ 26”N 90° 09’ 52”W

Elevation 780 feet

 

A Milkstone cairn overlooks the Lazy River Marina on the Mississippi River below the Mississippi Palisades State Park.

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GROTTO
GROTTO

Mississippi Palisades State Park, Illinois—October 2017

42° 07’ 23”N 90° 09’ 18”W

Elevation 660 feet

The Land and Water cairn rests in manmade rock arch at the base of a natural cliff in Mississippi Palisades State Park.

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UNSEEN PELICANS
UNSEEN PELICANS

Rock Island, Illinois—October 2017

41° 29’ 24”N 90° 36’ 02”W

Elevation 570 feet

After flowing east across Illinois from Rockford, the Rock River joins the Mississippi near this wetland where a flock of pelicans swam just out of view.

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JUNK
JUNK

Twin Rivers Drive, Keokuk, Iowa—October 2017

40° 23’ 13”N 91° 25’ 55”W

Elevation 480 feet

At sunset, the Summoning Clouds cairn stands in the mud of this junkyard that smells of gasoline, oil, antifreeze, and rot.

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SMALL ISLAND
SMALL ISLAND

Wildcat Den State Park, Muscatine County, Iowa—October 2017

41° 28’ 01”N 90° 52’ 07”W

Elevation 560 feet

The Summoning Clouds cairn sits on a small island in Pine Creek just downstream from the restored historic mill in Wildcat Den State Park.

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FROM THE BRIDGE
FROM THE BRIDGE

Wildcat Den State Park, Rock Island, Illinois—October 2017

41° 28’ 01”N 90° 52’ 07”W

Elevation 560 feet

The Summoning Clouds Cairn rests on a small island in Pine Creek just downstream from the restored mill in Wildcat Den State Park. 

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FALLEN TREE
FALLEN TREE

Burlington, Iowa—October 2017

40° 43’ 57”N 91° 08’ 31”W

Elevation 580 feet

Watershed Cairns marked this area near the Skunk River’s confluence with the Mississippi River with two Milkstone cairns.  

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Stump Lake Knees
Stump Lake Knees

Stump Lake Road, off Highway 100, near Fieldon, Illinois, May 8, 2018

39° 01’ 10” N90° 33’ 53” W

Elevation 430 feet

The Milkstone Cairns nestle among the cypress knees in the well-named Stump Lake at the edge of the Mississippi River.

Blue 2Lip Rocks
Blue 2Lip Rocks

Looking West, Highway 2 and Gresham Hollow Road, near Hamburg, Illinois, May 8, 2018

39° 13’ 13” N 90° 42’ 28” W

Elevation 450 feet

The Blue 2Lip Cairn rests on the sandstone creek bed under the Highway 2 bridge. Downstream, the creek flows into the Mississippi River at Gresham Hollow Park.

Blue 2Lip Bridge
Blue 2Lip Bridge

Looking East, Highway 2 and Gresham Hollow Road, near Hamburg, Illinois,May 8, 2018

39° 13’ 13” N 90° 42’ 28” W

Elevation 450 feet

The Blue 2Lip Cairn rests on the gravel part of a creek bed under the Highway 2 bridge, near Hamburg, Illinois, and across the Mississippi River from Elsberry, Missouri. This view is looking west/upstream toward an abandoned one-lane bridge.

Behind the camera, the creek flows west for less than a mile to join the Mississippi River at Gresham Hollow Park.

Hilltop Cemetery
Hilltop Cemetery

Summer and North Section streets, Hannibal, Missouri, May 9, 2018

39° 42’ 59” N 91° 22’ 08” W

Elevation 690 feet

Riverside Cemetery (also called Riverview) overlooks the Mississippi River in the older part of Hannibal, Missouri. This old, but well-maintained, burial ground includes the grave of Jacob P. Beckley (1867–1918) who played Major League Baseball from 1888–1907 as a first baseman for the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals; he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

Stump Clouds
Stump Clouds

On the Mississippi River, south of Cedar Creek

Bob Bangert Park, Quincy, Illinois, May 9, 2018

39° 57’ 32” N 91° 25’ 08” W, Elevation 510 feet

The base of the Penstemon Cairn balances on a waterlogged stump at Bob Bangert Park on the Mississippi River in Quincy, Illinois. The park is near to Cedar Creek’s link with the great river.

The fluffy clouds above the river illustrate a vital part of the water cycle: water evaporates from rivers, wetlands, oceans, and lakes to later condense into clouds and fall as rain, nourishing crops and replenishing those same bodies of water.

Hamburg Hummingbird
Hamburg Hummingbird

Water Street, Hamburg, Illinois, May 8, 2018

39° 13’ 53” N 90° 43’ 04” W

Elevation 460 feet

A silver sunset provides the background for the Hummingbird Cairn in the pretty little town of Hamburg, Illinois. The road that becomes Water Street runs parallel to the river, with elevated beach houses on either side. This cairn rests on the riverbank near the town’s main intersection and the only stop sign we encountered for miles.

Mississippi River Road
Mississippi River Road

Local Road 200N, off Mississippi River Road, near Hardin, Illinois

Across the Mississippi River from Elsberry, Missouri, May 8, 2018

39° 09’ 47” N 90° 41’ 56” W

Elevation 450 feet

The Penstemon Cairn sits in Mississippi River water that has flooded the River Road. The cairn is inspired by the Penstemon genus of Midwest native plants, which are related to the popular foxglove garden plants. Hummingbirds, butterflies, moths, bees, and insects are attracted to the nectar of the frilly two-inch flowers on pale green stems. Some of the Penstemon species are endangered or no longer found in parts of the Midwest. Source: The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers: An Illustrated Guide, by Charlotte Adelman and Bernard L. Schwartz.

Silo, No Till (Cloud)
Silo, No Till (Cloud)

Near Warsaw, Illinois, May 9, 2018

40° 18’ 18” N 91° 25’ 58” W

An unusual cloud hovers over the Hummingbird Cairn perched on an overgrown flowerbed in front of an old brick silo on the farm near Warsaw, Illinois, established by James T. Johnson in the 1850s.

The current owner Mr. Casady, a descendant of Mr. Johnson, uses no-till farming methods, in which the roots and stems of the crop are left on the field over winter. Then in the spring, seeds for the new crop are “drilled” directly into the unplowed field.

Field at Sunset
Field at Sunset

Looking west, near Palmyra, Missouri,May 9, 2018

39° 47’ 41” N 91° 26’ 35” W

Elevation 480 feet

For this image, we repositioned the Hummingbird Cairn 50 feet to the west of the Field with Two Trees Cairn to capture the glowing sunset on this agricultural field that extends to the horizon near Palmyra, Missouri.

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Silo, No Till
Silo, No Till

Near Warsaw, Illinois, May 9, 2018

40° 18’ 18” N 91° 25’ 58” W

The Hummingbird Cairn perches on an overgrown flowerbed in front of an old brick silo on the farm near Warsaw, Illinois, established by James T. Johnson in the 1850s.

The current owner Mr. Casady, a descendant of Mr. Johnson, uses no-till farming methods, in which the roots and stems of the crop are left on the field over winter. Then in the spring, seeds for the new crop are “drilled” directly into the unplowed field.

Levee
Levee

Bear Creek Recreation Area, Ursa, Illinois,May 9, 2018

40° 06’ 42” N 91° 27’ 60” W

Elevation 480 feet

Summoning Clouds Cairn stands on a fence post to mark Mississippi River water on the “land side” of this earth-mound levee, constructed to keep the river in place while protecting the agricultural fields from flooding. Sometimes, floodwater will seep under or flow over the earthen levee structures.

Levees can cause flooding downstream or on the opposite bank by preventing rain-swollen rivers from expanding naturally.Although the levee stops water from flooding the land they were designed to protect, people living across the river from tall levees get more water on their land.

Lock and Dam 21
Lock and Dam 21

Looking across the Mississippi River to Quincy, Illinois

Lock and Dam Road, Hannibal, Missouri,May 9, 2018

39° 54’ 01” N 91° 25’ 54” W

Elevation 480 feet

The Army Corps of Engineers maintains locks and dams on the upper Mississippi River, beginning at Minneapolis, Minnesota, including Lock and Dam 21 at Hannibal/ Quincy pictured here. The locks enable barges and boats to navigate steep drops in the river’s elevation. The locks provide a series of “bathtubs” that are filled to take barges and boats upstream or emptied to help the vessels downstream. Lock and Dam 27 at Granite City, Illinois, is the last one on the Mississippi because the river’s level descends more slowly on the lower Mississippi as it flows toward sea level in the Gulf of Mexico, near New Orleans, Louisiana.

Collecting the Water
Collecting the Water

Route 61, near Alexandria, Missouri,May 9, 2018

40° 21’ 53” N 91° 29’ 22” W

Elevation 480 feet

Diversion canals conduct from streams to agricultural fields to irrigate crops.

The canals pictured here are 3.8 miles south of the point where the confluence of the Des Moines and Mississippi rivers defines the borders of three states: Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri. The canals draw water from the Fox River, which flows parallel to, and south of, Route 61 in Missouri. The Fox nourishes a rich patchwork of agricultural fields, and then creates a 5-mile-long delta before joining the Mississippi River.

Drifting Wood
Drifting Wood

Across the Mississippi River from Lock and Dam 19 at Keokuk, Iowa

Hamilton, Illinois, May 9, 2018

42° 23’ 26” N 91° 21’ 58” W

Elevation 490 feet

The Milkstone Cairns appear to have washed up onto the wood that has drifted across the river to Hamilton, Illinois, from Lock and Dam 19 at Keokuk, Iowa. The two cities in two states are interdependent. Only the width of the Mississippi River apart, they have economic, social, and cultural connections with each other and with other towns along the river.

MREC.jpg
SUNSET CONSTELLATION
BIRCH BONES 1
WATAB BOG
COFFEE POT LANDING
WATER POWER 2
WATER POWER 1
CROW WING CONFLUENCE
BOG BALANCE
BLUE BUOY 2
FOUNTAIN CITY BAY OVERLOOK
BOAT HOUSES
BOAT LAUNCH
WATER SPRITE 1
WATER SPRITE 2
THE DOG HAS HAD ITS DAY
BYGONE BRIDGE
MINNEHAHA FALLS
MINNEHAHA FALLS BRIDGE
MENDOTA BRIDGE
HISTORY TREE
ST. ANTHONY’S TORCH
OLD MILL TORCH
WISCONSIN RIVER CONFLUENCE
COULEE
HANOVER SPILLWAY 1
HEADWATERS
CROSSING THE MISSISSIPPI
PRECIPICE
LILY PAD AND POISON IVY
SWAMP SENTINAL
SHORE SNAILS
DOCKS
POINTER
IRISES
LILY PADS
GRASS, NOT CORN
ROCK RIVER GLOW
OZZIE’S POINT
GROTTO
UNSEEN PELICANS
JUNK
SMALL ISLAND
FROM THE BRIDGE
FALLEN TREE
Stump Lake Knees
Blue 2Lip Rocks
Blue 2Lip Bridge
Hilltop Cemetery
Stump Clouds
Hamburg Hummingbird
Mississippi River Road
Silo, No Till (Cloud)
Field at Sunset
_E5A8237.jpg
Silo, No Till
Levee
Lock and Dam 21
Collecting the Water
Drifting Wood
SUNSET CONSTELLATION

Alma Marina, City of Alma, Wisconsin—June 2016

44° 20’ 27.46”N 91° 55’ 56.14”W

The cairn glows on the riverbank as the sun sets on the Upper Mississippi River Natural Wildlife and Fish Refuge.

More info

 

BIRCH BONES 1

Stump Lake, Minnesota—June 2016 47° 29’ 20”N 94° 45’ 21”W  Elevation 1,350 feet

A version of the White Pointer cairn stands next to birch trees, common in northern Minnesota.

More info

WATAB BOG

Little Rock Lake, Watab, Minnesota—June 2016 45° 42’ 19”N 94° 10’ 35.12”W Elevation 1,040 feet

The ground is soft under this cairn, poised in a bog off Hemlock Road NW.

More info

COFFEE POT LANDING

La Salle Lake Scientific and Natural Area, Minnesota—June 2016

47° 12' 33.336"N 95° 6' 35.8194”W

 

The name Coffee Pot Landing comes from the brown hue of the water, caused by the nearby bogs and iron in the surrounding soil. 

More info

WATER POWER 2

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota—June 2016 45° 08’ 32”N 93° 18’ 43”W Elevation 830 feet

The cairn is dwarfed by the electric transmission towers across the Mississippi River. They carry electricity generated by the Coon Rapids Dam, located a few hundred feet upstream of this site.

More info

WATER POWER 1

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota—June 2016 45° 08’ 32”N 93° 18’ 43”W Elevation 830 feet

A hybrid cairn, assembled from parts of the Blue Boy and Pointer cairn, sits on rocks in front of exposed tree roots, below the Coon Rapids Dam

More info

CROW WING CONFLUENCE

Crow Wing State Park, Brainerd, Minnesota—June 2016 46° 9' 39.3834"N 94° 12' 22.068"W

The Blue Buoy cairn makes an appearance at the confluence of the Crow Wing and Mississippi rivers, on the group campground’s shoreline in Crow Wing State Park.

More info

BOG BALANCE

Leech Lake Indian Reservation, Chippewa National Forest, Minnesota—June 2016  47° 15’ 03”N 94° 13’ 17”W Elevation 1,297 feet

The “ground” on which the cairn rests in a wetland is a raft of grass, moss, and decaying plants, floating on shallow brackish water.

More info

BLUE BUOY 2

Great River Bluffs State Park, Minnesota—June 2016 43° 56' 30.25"N 91°23’ 9.26W Elevation 1,205 feet

Photographed on a bluff north of La Crescent, Minnesota. The town of Holland, Wisconsin, can be seen across the Mississippi River.

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FOUNTAIN CITY BAY OVERLOOK

Merrick State Park, Fountain City, Wisconsin—Sept. 2016 44° 08’ 59”N 91° 44’ 56”W Elevation 850 feet

This stonewall overlooks the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, a part of the important bird migration route along the Mississippi River.

More info

BOAT HOUSES

Merrick State Park, Fountain City, Wisconsin—Sept. 2016 44° 08’ 59”N 91° 44’ 56”W Elevation 850 feet

Latsch Island, tucked under the Mississippi River bridge connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin, is home to dozens of small floating homes.

More info

BOAT LAUNCH

Warrentown, Wisconsin—,September 2016 44° 33’ 31.56”N 92° 18’ 34”W Elevation 690

High water on the Rush River near its confluence with the Mississippi River separates the Blue Pointer cairn from the boat dock.  The birds on the dock don’t seem to mind being rocked by the waves.

More info

 

WATER SPRITE 1

South of Hastings, Minnesota—September 2016 44° 39’ 58”N 92° 44’ 10”W Elevation 840 feet

The cairn points north in the flooded woods close to the Highway 58 bridge over the Vermillion River, near Prairie Island. 

More info

WATER SPRITE 2

South of Hastings, Minnesota—September 2016 44° 39’ 58”N 92° 44’ 10”W Elevation 840 feet

The White Pointer cairn appears to float on the reflective surface of the floodwaters in the riparian woodland, near the highway 58 Bridge spanning the Vermillion River.

More info

THE DOG HAS HAD ITS DAY

Carmichael Road, Hudson, Wisconsin—September 2016 44° 56’ 48”N 92° 43’ 37”W Elevation 820 feet

At this vacant greyhound racing park, the Trumpet cairn marks a parking lot the size of six football fields where rain can not soak into the ground. 

More info

BYGONE BRIDGE

Walnut Street Causeway, Hudson, Wisconsin—September 2016 44° 58’ 17”N 92° 46’ 02”W Elevation 720 feet

The concrete pillars are the remnants of Hudson’s Highway 12 toll bridge that carried traffic over the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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MINNEHAHA FALLS

Minnehaha Regional Park, Minneapolis, Minnesota—September 2016 44° 54’ 56”N 93° 12’ 36”W Elevation 760 feet

The Big Blue cairn stands in front of Minnehaha Falls. The name of the falls comes from Native American words meaning waterfall.

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MINNEHAHA FALLS BRIDGE

Minnehaha Regional Park, Minneapolis, Minnesota—September 2016 44° 54’ 54”N 93° 12’ 31”W Elevation 760 feet

Trails lead alongside the river, downstream from Minnehaha Falls to this stone bridge where the Big Blue cairn stands sentinel.

More info

MENDOTA BRIDGE

Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul, Minnesota—September 2016 44° 53’ 19”N 93° 11’ 03”W Elevation 740 feet

The Traveling cairn rests in a field of 5-foot-tall yellow flowers. The Highway 55 bridge leading to Mendota Heights is in the background.

More info

HISTORY TREE

Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul, Minnesota—September 2016 44° 53’ 01”N 93° 10’ 57”  Elevation 760 feet

The Traveling cairn nests in a 7-foot diameter hollow tree that may be over 200 years old and a witness to some of the darkest events in American history.

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ST. ANTHONY’S TORCH

St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota—September 2016 44°58' 56"N 93°15' 20"W

The Torch cairn marks the portion of the river between the upper and lower St. Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis.

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OLD MILL TORCH

St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota—September 2016 44°58' 53"N 93°15' 13"W

The Torch cairn marks the remnants of an old mill that was constructed in the 1800s to use water from St. Anthony Falls for power. 

More info

WISCONSIN RIVER CONFLUENCE

Wyalusing State Park, Woodman, Wisconsin—September 2016 42° 59’ 37”N 91° 07’ 21”W Elevation 1,130 feet

The Wisconsin River joins the Mississippi River in the distance—less than two miles from the overlook where the Big Blue cairn is balanced.

More info

COULEE

Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, Dubuque, Iowa—September 2016 42° 27’ 49”N 90° 38’ 14”W Elevation 650 feet

The Trumpet cairn rests on a rock outcropping, overlooking this dry streambed, or coulee, in the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area.

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HANOVER SPILLWAY 1

 Apple River, Hanover, Illinois—September 2016 42° 15’ 26”N 90° 17’ 11”W Elevation 640 feet

The White Pointer cairn is balanced on the edge of a concrete retaining wall, overlooking the natural spillway in the town of Hanover, Illinois.

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HEADWATERS

Lake Itasca State Park, Minnesota—June 2016

47° 14’ 20.46”N 95° 12’ 35.18”W

The Blue Buoy cairn is viewed from the hiking trail bridge, just downstream from Lake Itasca, visible in the background.

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CROSSING THE MISSISSIPPI

Lake Itasca State Park, Minnesota—June 2016

47° 14’ 23”N 95° 12’ 28”W

 

The Blue Buoy cairn sits at the point where the Mississippi River emerges from Lake Itasca as a small stream. 

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PRECIPICE

Jacobson Campground Road, off Highway 10  Ball Bluff, Jacobson, Minnesota—June 2016 47° 0’ 56”N 93° 16’ 15”W Elevation 1,260 feet

The curves of this cairn’s blue glass are no match for the twists of the Mississippi River, south of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

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LILY PAD AND POISON IVY

Pettibone Park, La Cross, Wisconsin—June 2016 43° 48’ 58”N 91° 15’ 54”W Elevation 650

Nature is found in surprising places. This tranquil pond is found in Pettibone Park beneath the Mississippi River bridge connecting towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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SWAMP SENTINAL

Hok-Si-La City Park and Campground, Lake City, Minnesota—June 2016 44° 28’ 12.26”N 92° 17’ 36.03”W  Elevation 807 feet

This cairn is situated in a swamp along the entrance to Hok-Si-La, a city park and campground on Lake Pepin.

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SHORE SNAILS

National Forest Road No.3778, off Winnie Road NE, Minnesota—June 2016 47° 23’ 56”N  94° 18’ 38”W Elevation 1,310 feet

A Mississippi River Trails marker leads to this location where the Mississippi River enters Lake Winnibigoshish.

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DOCKS

 Lynxville, Wisconsin—June 2016 43° 14’ 47.88”N 91° 03’ 29.42”W

These old docks have been replaced by a larger, more modern harbor on the other side of the Great River Road in Lynxville, Wisconsin.

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POINTER

River Bluffs Regional Park, St. Cloud, Minnesota—June 2016 45° 30’ 19”N 94° 08’ 37”W Elevation 970 feet

The aptly named Clearwater Road leads to the parking lot for this regional park.

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IRISES

Northeast of the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Winona, Minnesota—June 2016

44° 04’ 23”N 91° 40’ 37”W

Directions to this site west of downtown Winona, Minnesota, describe how natural beauty is hidden/preserved in the contemporary towns and cities.

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LILY PADS

Bulger’s Hollow Recreation Area, Clinton, Iowa—October 2017

41° 56’ 04”N 90° 10’ 55”W

Elevation 580 feet

 

The Land and Water cairn sits among the golden lily leaves that wave in the wind.

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GRASS, NOT CORN

Sabula, Iowa—October 2017

42° 0’ 48”N 90° 10’ 11”W

Elevation 790 feet

 

This ornamental grass and the trees behind it are part of a healthy riparian area separating the nearby cornfields from the Mississippi River.

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ROCK RIVER GLOW

Black Hawk State Historic Site, Rock Island, Illinois—October 2017

41° 27’ 50”N 90° 34’ 0”W

Elevation 550 feet

 

The setting sun at the Blackhawk State Historic Site in the Black Hawk State Forest illuminates this cairn.

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OZZIE’S POINT

North of Savanna, Illinois—October 2017

42° 08’ 26”N 90° 09’ 52”W

Elevation 780 feet

 

A Milkstone cairn overlooks the Lazy River Marina on the Mississippi River below the Mississippi Palisades State Park.

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GROTTO

Mississippi Palisades State Park, Illinois—October 2017

42° 07’ 23”N 90° 09’ 18”W

Elevation 660 feet

The Land and Water cairn rests in manmade rock arch at the base of a natural cliff in Mississippi Palisades State Park.

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UNSEEN PELICANS

Rock Island, Illinois—October 2017

41° 29’ 24”N 90° 36’ 02”W

Elevation 570 feet

After flowing east across Illinois from Rockford, the Rock River joins the Mississippi near this wetland where a flock of pelicans swam just out of view.

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JUNK

Twin Rivers Drive, Keokuk, Iowa—October 2017

40° 23’ 13”N 91° 25’ 55”W

Elevation 480 feet

At sunset, the Summoning Clouds cairn stands in the mud of this junkyard that smells of gasoline, oil, antifreeze, and rot.

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SMALL ISLAND

Wildcat Den State Park, Muscatine County, Iowa—October 2017

41° 28’ 01”N 90° 52’ 07”W

Elevation 560 feet

The Summoning Clouds cairn sits on a small island in Pine Creek just downstream from the restored historic mill in Wildcat Den State Park.

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FROM THE BRIDGE

Wildcat Den State Park, Rock Island, Illinois—October 2017

41° 28’ 01”N 90° 52’ 07”W

Elevation 560 feet

The Summoning Clouds Cairn rests on a small island in Pine Creek just downstream from the restored mill in Wildcat Den State Park. 

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FALLEN TREE

Burlington, Iowa—October 2017

40° 43’ 57”N 91° 08’ 31”W

Elevation 580 feet

Watershed Cairns marked this area near the Skunk River’s confluence with the Mississippi River with two Milkstone cairns.  

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Stump Lake Knees

Stump Lake Road, off Highway 100, near Fieldon, Illinois, May 8, 2018

39° 01’ 10” N90° 33’ 53” W

Elevation 430 feet

The Milkstone Cairns nestle among the cypress knees in the well-named Stump Lake at the edge of the Mississippi River.

Blue 2Lip Rocks

Looking West, Highway 2 and Gresham Hollow Road, near Hamburg, Illinois, May 8, 2018

39° 13’ 13” N 90° 42’ 28” W

Elevation 450 feet

The Blue 2Lip Cairn rests on the sandstone creek bed under the Highway 2 bridge. Downstream, the creek flows into the Mississippi River at Gresham Hollow Park.

Blue 2Lip Bridge

Looking East, Highway 2 and Gresham Hollow Road, near Hamburg, Illinois,May 8, 2018

39° 13’ 13” N 90° 42’ 28” W

Elevation 450 feet

The Blue 2Lip Cairn rests on the gravel part of a creek bed under the Highway 2 bridge, near Hamburg, Illinois, and across the Mississippi River from Elsberry, Missouri. This view is looking west/upstream toward an abandoned one-lane bridge.

Behind the camera, the creek flows west for less than a mile to join the Mississippi River at Gresham Hollow Park.

Hilltop Cemetery

Summer and North Section streets, Hannibal, Missouri, May 9, 2018

39° 42’ 59” N 91° 22’ 08” W

Elevation 690 feet

Riverside Cemetery (also called Riverview) overlooks the Mississippi River in the older part of Hannibal, Missouri. This old, but well-maintained, burial ground includes the grave of Jacob P. Beckley (1867–1918) who played Major League Baseball from 1888–1907 as a first baseman for the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals; he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

Stump Clouds

On the Mississippi River, south of Cedar Creek

Bob Bangert Park, Quincy, Illinois, May 9, 2018

39° 57’ 32” N 91° 25’ 08” W, Elevation 510 feet

The base of the Penstemon Cairn balances on a waterlogged stump at Bob Bangert Park on the Mississippi River in Quincy, Illinois. The park is near to Cedar Creek’s link with the great river.

The fluffy clouds above the river illustrate a vital part of the water cycle: water evaporates from rivers, wetlands, oceans, and lakes to later condense into clouds and fall as rain, nourishing crops and replenishing those same bodies of water.

Hamburg Hummingbird

Water Street, Hamburg, Illinois, May 8, 2018

39° 13’ 53” N 90° 43’ 04” W

Elevation 460 feet

A silver sunset provides the background for the Hummingbird Cairn in the pretty little town of Hamburg, Illinois. The road that becomes Water Street runs parallel to the river, with elevated beach houses on either side. This cairn rests on the riverbank near the town’s main intersection and the only stop sign we encountered for miles.

Mississippi River Road

Local Road 200N, off Mississippi River Road, near Hardin, Illinois

Across the Mississippi River from Elsberry, Missouri, May 8, 2018

39° 09’ 47” N 90° 41’ 56” W

Elevation 450 feet

The Penstemon Cairn sits in Mississippi River water that has flooded the River Road. The cairn is inspired by the Penstemon genus of Midwest native plants, which are related to the popular foxglove garden plants. Hummingbirds, butterflies, moths, bees, and insects are attracted to the nectar of the frilly two-inch flowers on pale green stems. Some of the Penstemon species are endangered or no longer found in parts of the Midwest. Source: The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers: An Illustrated Guide, by Charlotte Adelman and Bernard L. Schwartz.

Silo, No Till (Cloud)

Near Warsaw, Illinois, May 9, 2018

40° 18’ 18” N 91° 25’ 58” W

An unusual cloud hovers over the Hummingbird Cairn perched on an overgrown flowerbed in front of an old brick silo on the farm near Warsaw, Illinois, established by James T. Johnson in the 1850s.

The current owner Mr. Casady, a descendant of Mr. Johnson, uses no-till farming methods, in which the roots and stems of the crop are left on the field over winter. Then in the spring, seeds for the new crop are “drilled” directly into the unplowed field.

Field at Sunset

Looking west, near Palmyra, Missouri,May 9, 2018

39° 47’ 41” N 91° 26’ 35” W

Elevation 480 feet

For this image, we repositioned the Hummingbird Cairn 50 feet to the west of the Field with Two Trees Cairn to capture the glowing sunset on this agricultural field that extends to the horizon near Palmyra, Missouri.

Silo, No Till

Near Warsaw, Illinois, May 9, 2018

40° 18’ 18” N 91° 25’ 58” W

The Hummingbird Cairn perches on an overgrown flowerbed in front of an old brick silo on the farm near Warsaw, Illinois, established by James T. Johnson in the 1850s.

The current owner Mr. Casady, a descendant of Mr. Johnson, uses no-till farming methods, in which the roots and stems of the crop are left on the field over winter. Then in the spring, seeds for the new crop are “drilled” directly into the unplowed field.

Levee

Bear Creek Recreation Area, Ursa, Illinois,May 9, 2018

40° 06’ 42” N 91° 27’ 60” W

Elevation 480 feet

Summoning Clouds Cairn stands on a fence post to mark Mississippi River water on the “land side” of this earth-mound levee, constructed to keep the river in place while protecting the agricultural fields from flooding. Sometimes, floodwater will seep under or flow over the earthen levee structures.

Levees can cause flooding downstream or on the opposite bank by preventing rain-swollen rivers from expanding naturally.Although the levee stops water from flooding the land they were designed to protect, people living across the river from tall levees get more water on their land.

Lock and Dam 21

Looking across the Mississippi River to Quincy, Illinois

Lock and Dam Road, Hannibal, Missouri,May 9, 2018

39° 54’ 01” N 91° 25’ 54” W

Elevation 480 feet

The Army Corps of Engineers maintains locks and dams on the upper Mississippi River, beginning at Minneapolis, Minnesota, including Lock and Dam 21 at Hannibal/ Quincy pictured here. The locks enable barges and boats to navigate steep drops in the river’s elevation. The locks provide a series of “bathtubs” that are filled to take barges and boats upstream or emptied to help the vessels downstream. Lock and Dam 27 at Granite City, Illinois, is the last one on the Mississippi because the river’s level descends more slowly on the lower Mississippi as it flows toward sea level in the Gulf of Mexico, near New Orleans, Louisiana.

Collecting the Water

Route 61, near Alexandria, Missouri,May 9, 2018

40° 21’ 53” N 91° 29’ 22” W

Elevation 480 feet

Diversion canals conduct from streams to agricultural fields to irrigate crops.

The canals pictured here are 3.8 miles south of the point where the confluence of the Des Moines and Mississippi rivers defines the borders of three states: Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri. The canals draw water from the Fox River, which flows parallel to, and south of, Route 61 in Missouri. The Fox nourishes a rich patchwork of agricultural fields, and then creates a 5-mile-long delta before joining the Mississippi River.

Drifting Wood

Across the Mississippi River from Lock and Dam 19 at Keokuk, Iowa

Hamilton, Illinois, May 9, 2018

42° 23’ 26” N 91° 21’ 58” W

Elevation 490 feet

The Milkstone Cairns appear to have washed up onto the wood that has drifted across the river to Hamilton, Illinois, from Lock and Dam 19 at Keokuk, Iowa. The two cities in two states are interdependent. Only the width of the Mississippi River apart, they have economic, social, and cultural connections with each other and with other towns along the river.

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