River cleanup yields tons of trash, but treasures too

Scott Newton, Mississippi River Power Corporation

Mississippi River Power is presently rebuilding both dams in the North Channel of the Mississippi River in Almonte.

In order to work on the dams, the water in part of the North Channel had to be lowered. Knowing there would be garbage, metal, glass, etc in the river, we decided that once the water was lowered we would do what we could to clean it. Shortly after lowering the water, others in the community and residents on the island expressed an interest in cleaning the river as well. Many residents of the island took it upon themselves to start removing what they could as soon as the water was lowered.

On September 16th, MRPC arranged a river clean-up day. Stanely Sanitation donated a large dumpster for metal and we arranged for another for all other waste. We had about 15 volunteers who helped out that day, including MRPC staff, members of PRATAC, present Councillors, Council candidates, residents of the island and other interested volunteers.

It was a great day where we all came together with a common goal of cleaning our river. Some of the items removed were: a wheelchair, axle and tires, steering wheel, steel drums, pulley wheels (two of which were taken to the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum with the help of George Yaremchuk), horseshoes, bicycles, china (plates, cups, saucers, etc), pottery and hundreds and hundreds of old bottles.

In the weeks since then MRPC staff, plus other helpers including Brian Gallagher and Chris Newton, have spent many, many hours removing as much of the garbage as we could. Chris (my Dad) and I worked on the east shore earlier this week and found an overwhelming amount of steel/metal. We managed to get it all into the dumpster. Most was from either the railroad or the old mills.

The dumpsters were removed earlier this week by Stanley Sanitation and they informed me that we removed over 2800 pounds of garbage and over 5500 pounds of metal.

A big thank you to the residents of the island, the other volunteers, and MRPC staff, for this successful community effort.

There was a piece of the old railroad track, some of the plates that held the track in place, and hundreds of railroad spikes.

We kept some of the spikes and have decided to offer them to anyone interested in a souvenir of the old railroad. We’ll clean them as best we can and have them available for a minimum of $5 donation per spike. All proceeds collected will be donated to the Almonte General Hospital’s “Put Yourself in the Picture” fundraising campaign.

If you’d like a spike, please send an email to snewton@mississippiriverpower.com.