U.S. Water News Online
ALTON, Ill. -- A new, meandering mini-river outside the
National Great Rivers Museum shows how the body of water functions,
while tempting visitors of all ages to take off their shoes and wade
"Hardscape" architect Spyres Unlimited of Plano, Texas, and
landscapers Munie Outdoor Services of Caseyville, Ill., finished work
earlier this fall on the $170,000 project that runs just a few feet
north of the mighty Mississippi River.
"We can take groups out here and talk about how a river works and
how it is formed," said Carol Ryan, museum director and a park ranger
with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
She said the model river replaces two fountains that never worked
"This is a lot more educational," she said.
The headwaters start with five small waterfalls that tumble down a
Missouri limestone wall to the river. The river's bed and banks are
formed of concrete tinted a tan color to resemble mud.
The exhibit area is about 150 feet long, but the unnamed, skinny
river twists and bends about 300 feet down a slight slope and stops
in a 2-foot-deep delta. Along the river's route are such geologic
features as islands, sandbars, an oxbow lake and a backwater slough.
The river uses 7,000 gallons of water and circulates, or recycles,
about 600 gallons per minute in a fully automated system, said Sean
Spyres, president of Spyres Unlimited.
Ryan said it took Formations Inc. of Oregon, the museum's exhibit
contractor, six months to design the project at Melvin Price Locks
and Dam 26.
The landscape architect was Matt Maranzana of St. Louis.
"We took their idea and transposed it to paper, tweaking it a
bit," Spyres said. "We tried to make it interactive and show
representations" of a river and features that could be located in
this part of the Midwest.
Spyres said his company does hardscaping as opposed to
landscaping. Their art uses stone, boulders and other hard surfaces,
and it does larger-scale water feature projects versus land work.
Along with the new water feature, the museum is getting new
signage by one of the locks and on the wall next to the museum's main
door. A live-feed camera is being put in so museum visitors can watch
tows and barges move through the 1,200-foot main lock chamber.
In another addition to the museum, workers recently installed an
informational display about Mississippi River navigation in a former
control room overlooking the main lock chamber.
A new display also is going in just across the Mississippi at the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in
West Alton, Mo., which was formerly called the Riverlands
Environmental Demonstration Area.
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