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Introduction How Rivers Run Stories Value Of A River What We Can Do
Restoring Ups and Downs on the Mississippi
(pg 4 of 11)

Weaver Bottoms, the sprawling riverine lake near Wabasha, provides a good example of the changes that have overtaken the river. A half-century ago, it was one of the most productive waterfowl and fishing areas on the upper Mississippi.

Fishing, hunting, and trapping along the river as a kid, Davis met an old-timer in West Newton who had lived on the river since 1918. The old man had been a market hunter, selling ducks to the railroads. Before Lock and Dam 5 inundated Weaver Bottoms, the old man told him, backwater channels twisted through the floodplain. Giant cottonwoods and silver maples lined the banks. The woods teemed with otter, mink, and other furbearers.

The woods were cut to salvage timber before the flooding. Many furbearers disappeared. But once the impoundments invaded the backwaters, a lush new environment appeared. Carp and buffalo fish coursed the shallow water. Northern pike and other game fish flourished too. Yearly flights of ducks fed on fingernail clams and the aquatic plant known as wild celery. Davis himself remembers this era of plenty, when muskrat houses numbered in the thousands.

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Valley Creek
Gulf of Mexico
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