1 of 3
2 of 3
3 of 3
If you head to the right places along the Mississippi River, you might stumble upon river rat culture. For these people, river rat isn't an insult—they wear the name with pride. They boat. They ski. They fish. They eat and drink. And they welcome newcomers.
So if the river is beckoning you to explore its banks and its waters, read the excerpt from the story below and explore the seventeen river rat hideouts on the Mississippi high-lines for your own adventure.
Mississippi River Rats: Meet the people who form the currents of Missouri’s flourishing river culture.
A certain type of raw, pragmatic charm makes someone a through-and-through Mississippi river rat. There’s a certain amount of muddy river-water running through their veins, too. Tight-knit, in some cases close-lipped, and rooted in a connection to the swiftly moving waters of the third biggest river in the world, true river rats take pride in their moniker.
They’re scattered around Missouri; you just don’t know it yet because they’re not the kind to tell you about it.
A Mississippi river rat can be someone skiing on the surf, someone sunning on the beaches, someone fishing on the banks, someone young, or someone old. There are many kinds of river rats, and indeed, the habits of each change depending on the geography and location.
Deep respect for the river, however, is paramount across all strains of those who make the river their part-time home.
“I know to respect the river,” says Denise Knight, secretary, daughter of co-owner, and sometimes-deckhand of the Golden Eagle Ferry. “It can be dangerous. You know to respect it...
“The Mighty Mississippi, what else can I say? Long as you’re careful and understand that things change every day. Some days you have flooding and high water, and you’ve always got to be careful on the river. She’ll treat you good if you respect her.”
ANATOMY OF THE RIVER
The area of the Mississippi known colloquially as the “high-lines” is named for the large electrical lines that run high above the river from St. Charles County in Missouri to the very long peninsula of Calhoun County in Illinois.
Bounded by Lock and Dam No. 25 to the north at mile marker 241.4 at Winfield, Missouri, and Lock and Dam No. 26 at mile marker 202.5 at Alton, Illinois, this area is also known as Pool 26 to those who navigate the waters, be it by ferry, barge, fishing boat, kayak, or speed boat. It is a relatively small subsection of the Upper Mississippi River (the river north of its confluence with the Missouri River near St. Louis, which is about half of the 2,320-mile river ...
Subscribe to Missouri Life to read the full story in our August issue. In the meantime, check out these river rat hot spots on the high-lines near St. Louis and see if you are river rat enough to embark on your own Mississippi River adventure on the water or on the shore.
Following the River South: River Rat Hot Spots from Winfield, Missouri, to Alton, Illinois.