Blog

Adventures on the Other Side

In which we reveal a possible obsession with bridges to…

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Midwest Cultural Envy from a Californian

I arrive in the Quad Cities, towns with traces of…

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Seriously, What Have We Learned?

An excerpt from an academic journal in which I attempt…

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You Won’t Believe what they found when they opened my outboard engine

Though stuck in this small town made famous by the…

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Facing a New Day of Bad News

In which we discover that things don't look good, though…

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“How do you pay for this?”

If you have a little bit to spare, and thing…

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A Day of Danger, A Time of Troubles

An Aggressively Friendly Man. Big Big Waves. Serious Engine Trouble.…

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Heeeello? This is Iowa

We meet an angel. We are famous. A slew of…

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Mini Stories from Clinton, Iowa

Clinton Marina History My Grandmother owed and operated the Marina…

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A Teeny Tiny Journey Through History

It is only by the good grace of God, that…

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Twin Towns of Gritty Charm and Regret

A reality TV star, a gay couple, a 12-year old…

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Rumors of the Death of Drive-Ins Greatly Exagerated

While we were in Galena I got a wild hair.…

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Life with the Party People of Galena

We came to Galena for the day and stayed for…

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The Magic of the Lock 11 Fishing Barge

Ed told us we absolutely have to go up around…

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Hazel on the River

Since Hazel has a more devoted following than the project,…

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Setbacks, the Musical – A Nautical Tragicomedy

The scene opens with the newly recruited shipsmates standing in…

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Two Nuns, A Gambler, and an Heiress walk onto a boat… (updated)

We’ve been the talk of the town to some degree.…

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National Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque

The shantyboat is in Dubuque at the National Mississippi River…

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The Real Reason We’re Here

Naturally, the adventure down the river, the playful interactions of…

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A Brief Visit to Harper’s Ferry and a Mysterious Man

We meet a mysterious man in a historic town, but…

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WTF Secret History?

Short video that explains the project and offers a tour…

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An Unexpected Accident, Clamming Goldrush, and Bald Eagles in Lansing

A breakfast disaster, repairs, an interview with a clammer, and…

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The Night of the Biblical Plagues

We try to be just and virtuous people, but God…

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Inside the Shantyboat through the Driftless Area

A tour of the shantyboat and the Misssissippi's unique Driftless…

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Karen Galema, Mississippi River fisherman [video]

Karen Galema in her life has been a fisherman, an…

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Shantyboat Guys New Episodes!

On the shantyboat we are 24 hours in each other's…

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Introducing The Shantyboat Guys!

A few years ago when I was working on the…

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Fellow Workers

I was sitting with Jeremiah in the Donboat under a…

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The Story of the Donboat

We brought the Painted Pig, a small johnboat we bought…

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Louise and the Winona Backwaters

A promised date with Louise results in a shantyboat tour…

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Two Prairie Island Indian Community Interviews

I had the tremendous honor of interviewing two members of…

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A Word About Hazel Dog

Of course you know our ships hound Hazel. Did you…

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We lost Amy, Minnesota recycling, and missing contacts

e lost Amy. Somewhere between last summer's fieldwork and this…

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Showing Off the Shantyboat in the Twin Cities

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to exhibit twice…

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Two Great Interviews in the Twin Cities

All and all, it was an amazing and emotionally exhausting…

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An Afternoon Thunderstorm [AUDIO]

A summer rainstorm blows in while we are in the…

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Down to St. Paul and Out in a Storm

A lock and dam, a sacred place, and then out…

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Mississippi Launch and an Evening Expedition

Another blowout, a launch, a full house, an expedition, a…

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A Midnight Journey to the Bone Yard

The potholes were deep, nearly as deep as our growing…

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Roadtrips are always more interesting when your wheels fall off

As we were about to hit the road, a lady…

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River City Revue — People of the River

Are you in or near Minneapolis? See the Secret History…

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24 Hours

Tomorrow morning early we pull out of Santa Cruz towing…

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Dry Docking the Shantyboat

In preparation for our journey to the Mississippi River in…

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24 Hours and Gory Details

Just 24 hours and just over $1000 to go on…

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Readying Shantyboat and Other Trip Details

So while the Kickstarter has been doing its thing and…

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A Request to Tell a Friend or Three

Thanks for your support of A Secret History of American River…

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Secret History Summer 2015 Kickstarter

We are excited to announce the Secret History Upper Mississippi…

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The Producer’s Log: MFA Exhibition Reportback

Introducing Regina Ortanez who has been working as a producer…

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Introducing Freddie

You remember last year when we were on the river…

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2015 Summer Voyage on Upper Mississippi

Starting in late June, the Secret History shantyboat will be…

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What happened to the last 5 months?

Grad school. That’s what. MFA Exhibition prep. Reading books. Production…

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Meet the Production Team

Meet the production team that helped make the Secret History…

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Maiden Launch (vintage remix) [Video]

The shantyboat Dotty's maiden launch. Dropping a completely untested boat…

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Jessica Bierbrauer and the Future River

Jessica Bierbrauer, director of the Great River Road Visitor &…

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John Sullivan and Fish Kills

John Sullivan, retired DNR officer in La Crosse WI, talks…

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Jessica Bierbrauer and Lost History

Jessica Bierbrauer, director of the Great River Road Visitor &…

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Kali Arlene and Latsch Island

Kali Arlene, Latsch Island boathouse resident in Winona MN, talks…

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(Frozen) Water Under the Bridge

A week on the Mississippi River in the dead of…

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Ice Fishing Shack on Lake Winona [Video]

One of my goals in returning to the Upper Mississippi…

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La Crosse Boathouses [Video]

Down in La Crosse for the day, I hung out…

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Ice on Frog Slough [Video]

The other day I had just finished talking to the…

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An Intense Winter Fieldwork Trip

Tomorrow I am leaving for Minnesota and Wisconsin for a…

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Experiments with Multimedia [Video]

The production team and I are working on cutting various…

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Shantyboat at FIGMENT Oakland [Video]

A Secret History exhibited at FIGMENT in Oakland, a one…

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Lauren Donovan and the Creepy Guy [VIDEO]

Lauren Donovan, who kayaked the length of the Mississippi River…

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Sunset on the Sacramento Delta [VIDEO]

A relaxing evening at sunset from a recent trip on…

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Beautiful People I’ve Interviewed

With help from numerous people who work and live on…

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History of Flatboating and a Charming Educational Film

A very brief history on the evolution of river craft…

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Ken Lubinski on the Resilience of Nature [Video]

Ken Lubinski, river ecologist at the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental…

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Unusual photos of the Shantyboat

Two unusual portraits of the shanyboat from inside, one a…

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Support For This Project

We had a successful fundraiser which covered a portion of…

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PA’s Diary #2, lovingly entitled A Leaf on the Wind

The Production Assistant's report, a lock and dam, a cute…

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This River Life Drawing to a Close

For weeks and miles people have been asking us, "How…

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Brownsville Boathouses

After La Crosse, we made our way down to Brownsville…

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Jim Ehrsam and Other People Not Interviewed

On the day before we were leaving La Crosse I…

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A Night in Winona and the Production Assistant’s Report

A report back by PA Jeremiah upon his departure at…

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Small and Not So Small Town Press [Updated]

We’ve done our best to try to let people know…

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Typical Shantyboat Questions and Answers

Within minutes of arriving at the town docks, we have…

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Charming La Crosse, Wisconsin and a Theory About the Uneven Distribution of Social Capital

A sprained ankle, a man in a bowler hat, charming…

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Into the Storm on the Open River

Unless we survive this storm. We are anchored on a…

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Electronics Are Not Waterproof (URGENT)

URGENT SITUATION: My iphone took at drink in the Mississippi…

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A Fog Brings to Mind Huck and Jim

We wake to a fog and make our way finally…

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Stuck on a Sandbar, Civil Defense, and Flying Predators

While making our way downriver, we saw lots of barges…

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A Watery Death on Lake Pepin Narrowly Averted

The sun was shining and the wind was still and…

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A High Speed Water Chase, Flyswatting, and Madness

We venture on to Lake Pepin where we encounter both…

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Engine Solutions, Party in the Lock, River Days, and a 97 Year Old Woman

More of the generosity of strangers in Prescott, WI and…

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Lauren Donovan on Nearly Drowning at Lock 11 [Video]

Lauren Donovan, who kayaked the length of the Mississippi River…

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Mike’s Shantyboat

Mike Mosedale is a great fella I met in St.…

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Engine Troubles, Burger Lexicon, A Theft, and Much Generosity

St. Paul, MN to Prescott, WI and the many awesome…

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Peter Rachleff on the Creativity of Poor People [Video]

Peter Rachleff, Professor of History, talks about how poor people…

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First Few Days on the River

We’ve had our first few days on the river. We…

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Found Photos

Tag your photos with #shantyboat to share them on social…

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Living on the Shantyboat

Here are a few shantyboat details minutes before our departure…

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Send Off Party

Our Minneapolis friends are organizing us a Shantyboat Send Off…

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Shantyboat Runabout [video]

Today we powered up Mr. Johnson and motored about in…

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Shantyboat Open House

Drop on by to check out the Shantyboat, share stories,…

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The Secret History Shantyboat is Afloat

This afternoon after two years of building, months of planning,…

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15 Discoveries After Two Days of (nearly) Non-Stop Driving

Bug massacre, crossing the Rockies, mysterious cattle, new truck, two…

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A Brief Tour of One Random Neighborhood in Salt Lake City

We found ourselves stranded on a Sunday in Salt Lake…

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For Your Information: The Rockies Are Big

In which our heroes discover that the Rocky Mountains eat…

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