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Goodbye, Iowa

This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.

On any summer day, barring tornados and floods, men and women line the Davenport levee wall across from Rock Island, stoic sentinels of their fishing poles.

Do they know that the mud in the muddy water that swallows their lines beneath their bobbers is the State of Iowa disappearing out from under them, farm by farm?

Where mud is concerned, the Mighty Muddy Mississippi racks up some thick statistics. In the Pleistocene age, the mouth of the Mississippi was at Cairo, Illinois. Since then, that mud has filled in a valley fifty to sixty miles wide, more than a thousand miles down past New Orleans. Today at the Gulf of Mexico, each ten-foot cube of Mississippi River contains 42 pounds of sediment, 770 tons a minute, enough to cover 270 square miles one foot deep with mud as the river still pushes out into the Gulf.

Begging your pardon, Louisiana, but much of that mud is rich Iowa farmland, good corn and bean land. It's the state of Iowa, slowly washing away with every rain down the Des Moines, Cedar, and Turkey Rivers to the Mississippi and then south. It's time the governor and his legislators did something before Iowa drops out of sight.

No sense trying to stop the river; the Mississippi does what it wants. The easiest solution is for Iowans to begin emigrating and reclaiming their land.

Iowans are unusually orderly folks. I'm sure the move could be made in a practical manner. Let's say Keokuk moves first, sets up some roads and farms so that Ottumwa and Dubuque could follow, then Cedar Rapids, Lost Nation, Iowa City, and so on all the way to Sioux City.

We'll miss Iowa, of course, but we can always visit. And while there would be some inconvenience, think of the advantages. Much more beach front property for one. No snow for another. Corn would be replaced by much fluffier cotton. And the Iowa Hawkeyes could start over as the Iowa Turtles.

I can already hear future cruise ships announcing their destinations: Nassau, St. Kits, Jamaica, Des Moines.

Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet is underwritten by Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.

Beginning 1995, historian and folklorist Dr. Roald Tweet spun his stories of the Mississippi Valley to a devoted audience on WVIK. Dr. Tweet published three books as well as numerous literary articles and recorded segments of "Rock Island Lines." His inspiration was that "kidney-shaped limestone island plunked down in the middle of the Mississippi River," a logical site for a storyteller like Dr. Tweet.