Pool 8 of the Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is affectionately dubbed “America’s River,” and borders and, or passes through ten U.S. states. It is the second longest river in the United States and the largest river in North America. Flowing due south from Lake Itasca in northwestern Minnesota for 2,320 miles to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico, the river is controlled and managed as a series of pools. All or a part of thirty-one U.S. states and two Canadian Provinces are drained by the Mississippi watershed. The “mighty river” keeps rolling through centuries of use, new routes carved and continued economic and recreational activities on and around the river.
The Mississippi River has long been a vital source of drinking water, transportation, food and water for farming. Beginning in the early 19th Century, transportation facilitated the growth of trade routes and commerce on the Mississippi River. The expansion of the steamboat through innovation in the early ignited a period of greater river traffic and rapid economic growth and prosperity along the Mississippi River. Today, a system of 29 locks and dams holds back water in the upper reaches of the river. This string of slack-water pools held behind dams provide for a commercial navigation channel.
Pool 8 describes the region of the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) that is impounded by Lock and Dam 8. Pool 8 is numbered in reference to the dam at its downstream end. Pool 8 extends from Dam 8 at river mile 679.2, at Genoa, Wisconsin, to Dam 7 at river mile 702, near La Crescent, Minnesota. Portions of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, the south end of French Island and the City of La Crosse, Wisconsin, are included in Pool 8.
The pool was put into operation during the 1930s to provide for a 9-foot deep commercial navigation channel for over-sized barges that were active on the river, allowing the flow of goods from one place to the next. In the process, Pool 8 submerged and eroded natural levees. While it manages water levels, it was not designed to reduce flood risk. The Mississippi River is not only a proud river of commerce, but of recreation as well.
Deep draft boating opportunities can be had on the Main channel, and on the backwaters, there is a wilderness-like area that accommodates smaller, shallow draft boats. For those interested in watching the lock operations and the movement of barges up close, there is a public observation deck available for land-bound visitors. There are extensive opportunities for backwater hunting and fishing, long-distance cruising in the Main channel, sightseeing and viewing the wooded bluffs along the river, along with watching bald eagles soar. Pool 8 provides both economic and recreational benefits.
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