Sunday, August 17, 2014

Port of Dubuque

Yesterday we moved from Keokut, Iowa to Kieler,Wisconsin- which is across the river from Dubuque, Iowa.  I thought it was all a bit confusing until John informed me that from the Fenelon Elevator in downtown Dubuque we would be able to view a third state, which is Illinois.  After I looked at a map of Iowa, and saw how Dubuque is situated in the lower southeastern corner of the state on the Mississippi River,  it all made sense to me.  Here in Wisconsin we are about 10 miles from the downtown of Dubuque.
Pictured above is the Fenelon Elevator with two cars coming down the hill.  In 1882 Mr. Graves, a promoter of mines and local baker, lived up on the bluffs and worked at the bottom.  He was unhappy that, if he wanted to go home for lunch and a nap, his lunch break of an hour and half was consumed by a buggy trip around the bluff to the top and then back down again.  He consequently built a Swiss-style car on two rails which was hauled up and down by a hemp rope.  In 1893 ten neighbors obtained the franchise for the right of way for the track and used a streetcar motor to run the elevator- the rest is history.  The elevator is the described as the " world's steepest, shortest scenic railway".  We rode to the top where we were encouraged to walk around in the residential area behind the elevator and look at the large Victorian-styled homes.  One resident even had her gate open and allowed us to walk around in her garden.  The view from that vantage point was quite spectacular.  In the picture below we are looking at the Illinois side of the river.
Back at the bottom of the bluff again, we drove to the waterfront and the Port of Dubuque.  Here we found the historic Shot Tower, built in 1856.  Back in the 1760s an Englishman invented the "drop process".  Melted lead, dropped from a high level, became a sphere because of surface tension.  After landing in water and cooling down it keep its shape to then be used as rifle shot.  Shot was produced here until 1881. 
From the shot tower we walked over to the riverfront and the Mississippi River Walk.  It was quite the active place for a humid summer evening.  We counted at least four different wedding receptions taking place, either at the Dubuque Star Brewery or at the Grand River Center.  Small children were running barefooted down  the green grassy slopes in their wedding finery while couples were strolling along the river's edge.  Adding to our enjoyment of the evening were the exhibit of 11 sculptures,  public art offered by the city which are for sale.  Most of them could be found in small flower gardens along the river walk.


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