Environment Photography

More on Taum Sauk, Johnson, and Black River

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Thanks to Lee Farber, who runs the Peola Valley Pottery in Lesterville (the town threatened with flooding after the Tauk Sauk Reservoir wall failed), I have links to additional resources on the flood and its impact.

political cartoon noting that AmerenUE operates more than reservoirs.

I hope to get permission to actually take photos of the Shut-Ins themselves. In the meantime, before and after photos of the area.

The issue was raised that what has fallen into the Black River is just dirt, and dirt can actually help a surrounding area. The concept of rich alluvial land in the floodplains of a river like the Mississippi is based on naturally occurring flooding. The reservoir break was anything but natural.

The Black River, one of the most pristine in the state and country, and environmentally vulnerable, was actually diverted the length of two football fields at one point by the force of the water from the dam breaking. We don’t yet know the impact of the dirt in the water, either on tourism (necessary for the area); or on wildlife dependent on the river.

Environment Events of note

Unnatural Acts

Reporters checked with the Missouri state park system and found out, yes, the flood yesterday did a massive amount of damage to the Johnson Shut-Ins, most likely part of the Ozark Trail, and surrounding area. The trees and landscape in the following photo are most like gone now.


It also sounds as if the park superintendent and his family who were hurt by the flood will recover, though the children are still in serious condition. All of us are thinking about what would have happened if this had been a peak weekend in the summer when the area gets anywhere from a thousand to two thousand people, on the trails and river, or in the campground.

Several people in the comment thread to the Topic of the Day discussion at St. Louis Today (the online site for the local newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch), mentioned about how this was a ‘miracle’ that no one was hurt. Thank God, they would say, that this wasn’t in the summer when more would have surely been killed; thank God that the family was found while they were still alive.

I wrote last night in the thread that this wasn’t a miracle; do they see God as this capricious being that destroys the dam just so he can swoop the family to safety, after first almost drowning them?

As sad coincidence would have it, I’m currently re-reading, Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America by Ted Steinberg. He writes in the introductory chapter:

Once, the idea of invoking God in response to calamity was a strategy for eliciting moral responsibility. In the twentieth century, however, calling out God’s name amounted to an abdication of moral reason. With the religiously inclined less disposed than ever to take acts of God seriously, the opportunity has arisen over the last century for some public officials to employ God-fearing language as a way–thinly veiled though it might be–of denying their own culpability for calamity. In this sense, the act of God concept has become little more than a convenient evasion.

A person who wrote that they were an employee of Ameren, wrote in comments to the Topic of the Day thread:


Yes, a miracle.

(Photos from St. Louis Today)

Photography Places

Shut out

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The weather Saturday was lovely with cooler temperatures, and a lot less humidity. I’d been cooped up all week working on this and that and was in a mood for a long drive. As I hadn’t been to the Johnson Shut-Ins since early Spring, I wanted to see how they looked in the Summer and headed in that direction.

I can see why the Shut-Ins are so popular – they are extraordinary in all seasons. However, it’s in the summer that their true beauty reaches its peak, with the dark green of the trees, and the rust and pale blue of the surrounding rocks, offsetting the turquoise/aqua of the water. There are little pools in and among the rocks you can wade in, or go further downstream if you prefer sandier conditions. Though my camera has been problematical lately, I still managed to grab some fairly decent photos.

Lots of people at the park, but it’s large enough so you never feel crowded. You can swim at the Shut-Ins, but walking around isn’t easy – the rocks are very uneven and slippery.

There’s a boardwalk that surrounds the Shut-Ins and then steps that take you to the rocks themselves. Last time out I managed to walk around the rocks; however, this time I had to refrain because my ankle is still swollen and bruised from the last major fall, and further irritated by some injudicious hiking. Recently, I’ve had to use a hiking stick even on flatter grounds.

But I was wistful, as I stood at the bottom of the steps and looked out at all the people having fun and exploring. I wanted nothing more than to be in cut-offs and swimsuit and to jump into the water and feel the aeration of the falls around me. It must be like swimming in champagne.

A young man, probably in his early 20’s, saw me at the bottom of the steps leaning on my walking stick, looking longingly at the others playing. He started past and then stopped and turned around, and asked if I needed help to get around the rocks. I was both pleased by such generosity and chagrined that he would offer to help. After all, I’m only…

..well, only close to 50, walking with a limp, and in obvious need of my walking stick. Or helping arm.

I did thank him with the warmest smile I could pull up, as I declined his help, telling him that the rocks and my ankle would not be a good mix. I refrained from telling him that what he sees isn’t what I am.

What I feel, what I am, is that young girl sitting on the rocks by herself, looking at the water flowing past, playing with her hair and just dreaming of whatever. As long as no mirrors or helpful young men are about, that’s what I am.