Further down the Ohio River is the town of Paducah. Known as the City of Craft and Folk Art, Paducah is a river city, located right where the Tennessee and Ohio rivers merge. It was founded in 1827 by William Clark of America’s famous Lewis & Clark expedition.
Lewis and Clark were early explorers who, in 1804 were the first people to cross the western part of the USA. They began in St Louis and travelling predominantly by river, they eventually reached the Pacific Ocean near present day Seattle.
Paducah was a key location during the Civil War because of its location on the river with transportation and resources at the ready.
In 1937 the river flooded here and caused a significant national disaster. In the main street I saw a sign showing how much the town had raised for the Red Cross. By far the largest amount was the donations in 1937 that amounted to over one and a quarter million dollars. Today, a mural-covered flood wall, built to prevent future flooding, forms a sort of gateway into town while simultaneously illustrating the rich history that contributed to making Paducah the city of 25,000 residents that it is today.
We were a little late getting up and we missed the shuttle that was taking people around the major sights of the town. It rained all day and while the temperature in the morning was a warm 22C, by lunch time it had dropped to 11C and was quite cool.
Nearby the wharf, the town was very run down. Many of the shops were closed and need renewal. I think that the active parts of town have moved further away. Some of the old buildings, including the market place have, what appears to me, an architecture consistent with rural American towns.
Probably, the most outstanding sight in town is the National Quilt Museum. This was started by a couple who originally published a quilting and craft magazine and has now grown into a stunning display of beautiful and intricate quilting work from all over the world. It was only about three blocks from where our boat was docked but not yet open when we first walked across to it. Instead, we went back to the Main Street for a coffee in a very cute little coffee shop.
We were back to the Museum after half an hour and we we’re amazed at the intimacy of some of the quilts on display. Jill has done a little quilting and knows far more about it than I do but even to me they appeared as amazing works of art.
Some were traditional quilts with hand stitching. They were made of small pieces of fabric sewn together to make a ‘picture’ or design and then over quilted with stitching that created a texture.
Others were images and replicated photos or paintings.
This one of a forest looked more like a tapestry than a quilt, so I needed to take a close up of some of the detail.
After lunch, I went for walk through the town. I came across a railway museum that had a monster of a steam engine outside. This would have hauled some serious freight volumes.
In the Main Street was an interesting sign that told of a medical discovery by a local doctor. Sometimes out of these small towns come some interesting discoveries.
While we have seen a few interesting places so far on this trip, we haven’t yet seen any of the places that we really came to see on the Mississippi. It’s clear that the river is high because of the rain further north but I spent a lot of money on an airfare to get here. We have been travelling for some days now and we are still not near the Mississippi.
The straw that had broken the camel’s back for me is that they announced tonight that we will not be stopping at St Louis. That means that out of the thirteen places on the original itinerary, we will now only see four of them. Each evening we have an update on the trip and tonight they announced this change of plans. So far, all the passenger communication has been left to the Cruise Director but I really thought that the Captain should have been at this briefing to announce what is a significant change to our itinerary.
I’ll wait until tomorrow to see what is happening next.