08-Jun-2016 -- As I had just finished presenting at the Geo Ed conference, and as the conference was a gathering of community college instructors focused on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a confluence visit seemed particularly appropriate. After the conference ended, and as it was two weeks before the summer solstice, a few hours of daylight still remained. Hence, it was time to get out into the field.
I drove south and then west out of Louisville on US 31 W and Kentucky State Highway 1638 and 1051 before crossing into Indiana on a magnificent bridge across the Ohio River on Highway 79. After pausing to take some self portraits at the Welcome to Indiana sign, I knew it was going to be a great adventure: The evening was absolutely clear, and the sun angle provided beautiful warm tones while the road dipped and turned through horse properties, agricultural fields in the floodplain of the river, and quiet wooded hollows. I was driving east along the Ohio River valley, a river that Thomas Jefferson called the most beautiful in America.
Finally, after a half hour, I turned south on the road that dead-ended at the Ohio River. As I had anticipated, the gate at the end of the road here at New Boston was closed. A small cluster of homes lay along the north shore of the river just east of the road. I therefore backtracked to Highway 111, about 3/4 mile north, and then drove east to a point at the boundary between two agricultural fields, one planted and one left fallow. The house at the field boundary looked abandoned as I walked by it; I headed almost due south. After an easy walk along the field boundary, with only one muddy place, I descended the steep embankment to the river's edge, and then continued east. This is where things became difficult, not only in retaining the GPS signal due to the wooded area I was now in, but in retaining my footing here. I was still wearing my work clothing from the conference, so trying to take care not to scratch everything. I was hoping there was no poison ivy. This area seemed a world apart from the fields just to the north--quiet and shaded, with the mighty river right there. After about 15 minutes, I arrived at 86 West, just about 34 meters north of the confluence point. Having no boat, I had to call it good.
I found myself in probably one of the five most beautiful confluence points I had ever visited, in all of my 14 years of trekking to points. The river lay before me, wooded on the Kentucky shore with just a few homes in sight. The water was as smooth as glass, hiding the mighty current that had been flowing from Pennsylvania, on down to the southern tip of Illinois where it would join the Mississippi River. I filmed a video then and there . I saw a few birds but no animals and no people. It was about 7:30pm in late spring, temperature about 80 degrees F. No boats or barges came by, which I found surprising given the big cities of Louisville, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh upriver from here.
I had stood on 38 North many times, from California on the west to Maryland on the east. I had also stood on 86 West before, but just twice, and both times in Indiana, one and two degrees north of this spot. I was very pleased to be here. While it is true that this point is not "on the way" to anywhere in terms of being on a major road, I was amazed that so many years had elapsed since the one and only previous visit. I thought about Lewis and Clark floating down here in 1804 before Camp Dubois, Illinois would mark the official start of their expedition. I thought about this river being the dividing line between the Union and the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865. I wondered if anyone had attempted to swim across the river here to join the Underground Railroad in Indiana. Being a bit reluctant to leave this secluded spot, I filmed a few additional movies for my web site, GeographyUberAlles, on YouTube. I always like to take a circle trip on the way back from confluence treks but in this case, I did not want to traverse the planted field that lay to my north. Hence, I retraced my steps along the riverbank and then through the unplanted field, north to the road. I was pleased to see that not much trash had been tossed along the riverbank. The total time came in just under an hour.
I was now determined to drive a different way back to Louisville, on the Indiana side. The adventure was not quite over, because about 1 kilometer to the east, I discovered Evans Landing, a beautiful country church and cemetery, right at sundown, which I filmed here. I continued east and then crossed back to Kentucky at Louisville. Get out there and explore the world!