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

Day 19: August 29th, 2002 Dubuque

It’s a new experience not to pack my suitcase in the morning and to drag it in my car. But the search for a nice breakfast restaurant is still there. I decide to try the Dubuque Family Restaurant just down Highway 20 to the city. Its interior is like the usual family restaurants. But the breakfast ist absolutely awesome. They even offer a small donut or little piece of cake until the breakfast is ready! This is really nice. I am sure I will be there tomorrow again. There are also a lot of locals and regular customers which is always a good sign.

Exceptionally I don’t need a gas station today, because all sights for today are close around. My first destination is the tomb of Dubuque, who was the founder of this city, and Peosta, an Indian chief and friend. In 1788 Dubuque receives the permission to dig for lead in the caves. This way he became one of the biggest economy drivers in this area. He also was the first white settler in Iowa and died in 1810. When the Fox Indians gave up in 1833 the white settlements began in this area.

The city of Dubuque was one of many firsts: The first church, the first murder who had been hung in public (1834), the first newspaper and the first bank (1836). In 1860 the city already had 31164 residents.

In 1805 Zebulon Pike also visited Mr Dubuque on government request. He should determine how much lead is really taken out of the mine. But Dubuque had the excuse that they currently have no horses to visit the mines. So Pike had to rely on Dubuque’s statement which were indeed wrong. Even at these times people tried to work around taxes!

There is a nice view of the Mississippi from the tombs. But the mosquitoes are really ugly. Therefore I don’t stay for too long. My next destination is Crystal Lake Cave. When I arrive there are only two cars parked in front. Maybe I have the luck to do better video taping this time.

The entrance is also a souvenir shop like Mark Twain’s Cave. When I look around I see at the cave entrance they don’t allow video cameras. Great, then I can take my camera back into my car…

After a short waiting time our tour guide shows up. Beside me there are only 6 people on the tour. This time I hope to get at least some good pictures. But the tour is done so fast, you don’t really enjoy taking pictures. Also the explanations are just rattled. This is a real tourist cave, definitely not my taste. What a difference to the Lewis & Clark Caverns in Montana. But who knows, maybe they also don’t have this great tour guide anymore.

After the tour I drive back to Dubuque to visit the Mississippi River Museum. Unfortunately the stern wheeler is closed the whole year due to renovation. But both museums are open. You learn a lot about life at the river and the issues people had. There is also a lot of information about the nature around. All in all I can really recommend a visit!

On top of the museum is an observation deck where you have great views of the Mississippi. I take some nice pictures from there. Then I head on to the next museum. There is also a lot of information about nature and the stern wheeler. Especially the docking maneuver was very risky. A lot of times the cauldron exploded and the vessels sank. There is also a helm stand to see of one of these sunken vessels.

Around 4pm I have finished my visits and drive back to my motel. I am already low on water, which is not amazing for temperatures in the 90s. I drive over to Wal–Mart which is not far away from my motel. They should also have the new Dixie Chicks CD with their song “Long Time Gone”. They play this song all day in the radio and I really like it. When I enter the CD area I see they have a whole bunch of these CDs and they also have a special offer with $3 discount. Now I definitely cannot resist…

Then I drive back to my motel to take a look at my video tapes. It is not too much this time which gives me the chance to listen to all my bought CDs. Around half past seven I walk over to the Los Aztecas. Originally I planned to try something new. But dinner yesterday was so great that I have to be there again. This gives me also the chance to have another Corona. Who knows when there is another chance for a beer. I pay around half past eight and walk back to my motel.

  • Sights
  • Tomb Peosta and Dubuque
  • Crystal Lake Cave (Fee $9)
  • Mississippi River Museum (Fee $3)
  • General
  • Breakfast: Dubuque Family Restaurant, Dubuque
  • Dinner: Los Aztecas, Dubuque
  • Motel: Super 8, Dubuque
  • Distance: 24 miles