Zebulon Montgomery Pike Trail to the sources of the Mississippi 1805 — 1806

Day 16: August 26th, 2002 Quincy — Ft. Madison

First I need a place for breakfast. Unfortunately I forgot to ask yesterday and also when checking out today. My first try is the Ruby Tuesday from yesterday. But they are not open in the morning. Then I follow the main street for a while. But I have no luck either.

Next I drive Highway 104 back to Highway 57. But I am only able to find fast food chains. I think I am almost driving for half an hour until I eventually see a nice breakfast café. The parking lot is almost full and I am able to get one of the last seatings. Due to the happiness of finding this place I forgot to check out the name for my diary. I think it is located along Highway 96 and there is a steel wagon wheel at the wall.

But main thing is that my breakfast is good. I order my usual American breakfast. Then I drive over to the next gas station. I start my trail today around half past ten.

First I take Highway 24 West over the Mississippi River. At West Quincy I turn onto a small backroad. First I have to cross the railway. Then the road always follows behind the dam. After 2 miles I have to leave my planned route, because there is restricted private property in front.

I have to drive back into the country for a short distance. But at the next possible road I turn to the north again. After a couple of miles I have to cross a pretty rusted bridge. The 12 ton sign at the bridge doesn’t increase my trust into this bridge.

At the last stretch the gravel road gets worse. There is already some gras growing in the middle. Then I have to cross another bridge which is in the same condition as the other one.

I see something like a sternwheeler in the distance. But I am here in the middle of the country! When I approach the place I encounter that this is a casino. The gravel road abruptly ends at the parking lot. I think to myself if I would have taken the road in the other direction I would have not been able to find this backroad. Who would think that somewhere at the end of a parking lot starts a road…

I have reached Highway 61 at La Grange. I follow this highway through town until I turn onto Highway 8. This highway takes me again out of town.

Backroad, MO Backroad, MO
Backroad, MO

At Canton I reach Highway 61 again. I follow this highway until I reach the next backroad. This road is already a little bit grown over. Just past the railroad the road turns to the south. This is exactly the wrong direction!

Road P, MO Road P, MO
Road P, MO

I have to turn around once more and follow Highway 61 to the next branch. A couple of miles later this is Road F. Then I turn onto Road P to the north. At the end of Road P I follow another small road to the east, which takes me back to the Mississippi river banks. But this road ends soon and I have to drive my way back.

Rose Pond, MO Rose Pond, MO
Rose Pond, MO

Lucky me I am able to find an alternative route. This gravel road takes me through the Rose Pond CA with some nice views of the area. The river almost formed a small swamp here.

Backroad, MO Backroad, MO
Backroad, MO

Suddenly there is a warning sign. It is not possible to drive this road during high water. But the Mississippi water level is currently not critical and I am able to drive on.

After a while I reach Highway 61 again, which I follow to Highway 136. I follow this road up to the state line of Iowa. Then it’s only a short distance to Keokuk.

George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA
George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA

I want to visit an old sternwheeler there, the George M. Verity. When I arrive a group of people leaves the boat. It seems like I am the only guest at the moment. The guy who receives the entrance fee is also doing all renovation work. He has a lot of rust work to do, because the whole boat is made of iron.

George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA
George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA

Some of the parts are already nicely renovated. But at some spots you can see the aging. The tour starts at the engine room where you can see the huge boiler. Then I walk on to the power unit area. The boat is in a decent condition considering it was built in 1927. Maybe the short time being in service also helped: The boat retired in 1960.

George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA
George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA

But up to this time there has still the Mississippi River water been served for dinner. You can still see the pump which hauled the drinking water out of the river. After viewing the giant drive shaft for the sternwheel I take the stairs to the upper deck.

George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA
George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA

From this upper deck I reach all the coaches located on this ship. Everything is already restored at this level starting with the staff coaches. Then I visit the officers and the captains booth — whereas at the captains booth is a bucket collecting water dripping from the ceiling…

George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA
George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA
George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA
George M. Verity, Keokuk, IA

You can reach the helmstand from this deck via another couple of stairs. This room already has an echo sounder. You see that this ship has been on the river during the electronic revolution. This ship was only used for transport, mainly charcoal. Therefore there are no passenger coaches.

When going down the stairs I see the drawing hardware to pull down the big chimneys. This was necessary to be able to pass the low hanging bridges on the river.

After I have seen everything I have a nice chat with the employee. He already works here for a long time and he has made most of the renovation work. He is not as fast as he wants to be. But he wants to do the restauration good in order to keep this condition for a while. With the harsh climate around the boat would start to rust immediately again.

I say goodbye and take some nice picture from the river banks. Around 2pm I leave the place and drive on. Unfortunately I am not able to drive close to the river. So I have to drive back to the main street to look for another road back to the river banks.

Mississippi River, IA Mississippi River, IA
Mississippi River, IA

Eventually I find a nice road and I am rewarded with some nice views of the Mississippi River.

River Road, Mississippi River, IA River Road, Mississippi River, IA
River Road, Mississippi River, IA

I follow the small river road all the way to Montrose. Then I have to go back to the much hated bigger highway. This highway is the last one for today. My destination is the Super 8 in Ft. Madison. When I arrive it is just a quarter past three. This gives me plenty of time to work through the movies of today.

I leave for dinner around eight. They recommended the Palm Supper Club for steaks, just a short distance down the road. It’s easy to find because it has an illuminated palm in front. The prices are a bit higher in this restaurant but the steak definitely compensates for that. Around a quarter to nine I pay and drive back to my motel.

  • Sights
  • George M. Verity (Fee $3)
  • General
  • Breakfast: Unknown Café, Quincy
  • Dinner: Palm Supper Club, Ft. Madison
  • Motel: Super 8, Ft. Madison
  • Distance: 94 miles