Working on the Illinois River

Motoring down the river at 10 miles per hour allows plenty of time to observe the shore lines and passing traffic.   For miles the shore may be tree lined with a glimpse of farm fields beyond.    Just as we feel we are in the middle of nowhere; a road winds along the river with traffic moving along at 60 MPH.

I suspect many are heading to their jobs that are somehow related to river traffic.


Jobs on the barges and tow boats on the river with captains, deck hands, and cargo workers. The barges get loaded or unloaded one bucket load at a time.    Others are filled from train cars via elevators.

We get a wave from many of the workers as we pass by- Here are bridge workers, a bridge tender and a barge dock worker:


Other hard workers don’t even notice us:


We give a wave to the tow captains as we pass- sometimes they are visible, other times high up in the tow bridge.  (click on each photo enlarge it)


The names of the tow are on each boat, plus we can see it on our AIS chart plotter. This makes it easier to call them by name on the radio.

The industry brings large plants and stacks —



Elevators,  train cars move the products from the industrial plants that line the Illinois river.


The tows on the Illinois are pushing up to 15 barges – can only guess the variety of loads.   Once we hit the Mississippi, they combine loads, and push huge loads at once.  I’ve heard the numbers but don’t believe it.  Will post more details later.    If you know what might be on these barges post us a note!    Some are loading what looks like salt?   Others are gravel moving to another construction sight.   I’ve been told crude oil and grain.   Fascinating stuff!




About mnsailors

Our blog will highlight our travels along America's Great Loop. We sold our sailboat on Lake Superior for a Trawler to do America's Great Loop in 2016.
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