Lens-Artists #89: A River Runs Through It

Amy at Lens-Artists has as her theme for this week’s challenge: river.

Starting out close to home, here is the Des Plaines River during a November walk on the Des Plaines River Trail. This is a very pretty stretch of the slow-moving river, but it is responsible for many floods in the cities along its banks due to heavy rain.
The Des Plaines River, which gave the suburban city that was my home for over 30 years its name, flows 133 miles southward from southern Wisconsin to south of Joliet, Illinois, where it joins the Kankakee River and becomes part of the Illinois River. Contrary to popular opinion, Des Plaines, a French name, does not mean “of the plains.” It actually refers to either the sycamore or the maple tree, which resembles the European plane tree, and was named by French traders in the 18th century.

The Chicago River is prominently featured in many photos of downtown Chicago and can be viewed from any of the bridges on  main thoroughfares of the city. This photo was taken at Michigan and Wacker near the site of the original Fort Dearborn.
Chicago celebrates its river by dying it Kelly green every St. Patrick’s Day (although they didn’t do that this year – celebrations were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic), by constructing a pleasant river walk lined with eateries, which is still under construction, and opening a River Museum that tells the story of the Chicago River and offers nice views of the river from its windows. The river is most famous for an engineering feat undertaken at the turn of the 20th century: the main stem of the river’s flow was reversed so that it now flows out of Lake Michigan, through a system of locks. This increased the volume of the river, which now empties into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

The Colorado River is the most iconic and important river in southwestern United States. It is responsible for carving some of the most beautiful scenery of the west, including the Grand Canyon and others preserved in 11 national parks. This photo was  taken at the Grand Canyon and is strangely the only photo I have of the river!
The Colorado River starts in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and meanders southward 1,450 miles to the Gulf of California. The river and its tributaries provide water for 40 million people in the Southwest. Native Americans have occupied the Colorado Basin for at least 8,000 years and the culture of the region is strongly influenced by their presence. The Desert View Watchtower, from where the above photo was taken, was designed by Mary Colter who took inspiration from the native peoples that inhabited and continue to dwell in the region. Below is the Watchtower from the inside and outside.

No tour of American rivers would be complete without the Mighty Mississippi! Below are two photos of the river just north of St. Louis on the Illinois side of the border. It was nearly sunset when we got to this spot.
A view of a couple of the bridges across the Mississippi at that spot
Flowing southward 2,320 miles from its origin near Lake Itasca, Minnesota, it is the second longest river in North America. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi watershed drains 32 American states and 2 Canadian provinces. Native Americans have lived along this river for thousands of years, including the mound builders who are now thought to have been one of the major ancient civilizations in the Americas. The region along which it passes is very fertile and it is now a common riverboat cruise vacation, inspired by the steamboats that have plied its waters for the last two centuries, as well as other riverboats carrying cargo, animals and people as a main form of transportation.

Jumping to another continent, Africa is home to the longest river in the world, the Nile. The Nile was at the center of the ancient Egyptian civilization, which grew up along its banks where the land was fertile. The ancient Egyptians depended on its annual inundation, which no longer occurs due to dams, especially the High Dam of Aswan.
Sunset on the Nile:
Fishermen on the Nile

The Nile originates south of the equator and flows northward 4,132 miles to empty into the Mediterranean Sea. The ancient Egyptians called the river Ar or Aur, meaning “black” due to the color of the mud created by the sediments when it was flooded. Because of the direction of flow from south to north, the ancient Egyptians referred to their southern territory as “Upper Egypt” and the northern territory and the Delta “Lower Egypt.”

The most famous river in the Bible is the Jordan River. Many songs and prayers refer to it and today many pilgrims go to the river to be baptized.
A friend about to be baptized at Yardenit Baptismal Center
The Jordan River connects the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. 156 miles long, it runs north to south along the border between Jordan, the Palestinian West Bank, Israel and Southwestern Syria.

Another river in Israel is the Dan. The Dan River originates in Israel and is the largest of the three principal tributaries of the Jordan River. The Dan River flows from Tel Dan, the site of the biblical city of Dan (Laish). The river is fed by the rains and snowmelt that pass through the rock of Mount Hermon and emerge at its foot to form hundreds of springs.
The Tel Dan Nature Reserve has hiking trails and encompasses the ruins of Tel Dan.

Last summer we took a river cruise in Europe, on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers.
Cruises on the Rhine River are popular, because one can view a series of medieval castles rising on the hills along its banks, as well as sample a variety of wines grown in its vineyards that cover the hillsides. This photo was taken from Marksburg Castle in Germany.
Wine growing and castles are beautiful scenery on the Rhine.

The Rhine is the second longest river in central/west Europe, about 760 miles (1,230 km) long. It originates in the Swiss Alps and flows north to empty into the North Sea. The Rhine and Danube rivers comprised most of the northern inland frontier of the Roman Empire.

Through a series of locks, a river cruise travels from the Rhine into the Main River and then into the Danube. The Main River is located entirely within Germany.
We went through a series of locks.

The Main River is 326 miles (525 km) long, the longest tributary of the Rhine. Major cities along the Main include Frankfurt and Würzburg.

The Danube River is the second longest river in Europe (longest is the Volga) and flows through 10 countries, more than any other river in the world.
The Danube, called Donau in German, flows 1,770 miles (2,580 km) southeast, originating in the Black Forest of Germany and emptying into the Black Sea. Four national capitals are located along the river: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Belgrade.

A tributary of the Danube is the Inn River which flows through Switzerland, Austria and southern Germany.
Ducks on the Inn River at Schärding, Austria
The Inn is 322 miles (518 km) long and forms part of the Austria-Germany border at Passau. There is a coin-sized marker on this bridge, indicating the border: on the left is Germany, on the right is Austria.


Wurzburg Windows

For the photo challenges Ludwig Keck’s Monday Windows and Becky’s October Square, this post on Würzburg features the windows and lines of the city’s historic architecture. (The first two photos are squares.)
This one is my favorite window photo. (There are squares and geometric lines in it too!)
The Baroque architecture of the prince-bishop’s palace, the Würzburger Residenz
Church of our Lady, Marienkapelle
St. Kilian Cathedral, Würzburger Dom
Nuemuenster Collegiate Church
More Baroque architecture
City center
On the Main River


FOWC: Gregarious Birds Hanging Out

Some birds mate for life – like swans, who tend to hang out alone or with their mate and cygnets. Ducks and geese do not mate for life, but they are more gregarious birds. Many types of birds are gregarious – that’s possibly why we call them flocks! So for Fandango’s One-Word Challenge, here are some photos of gregarious birds hanging out.

Mallard ducks, Arlington Heights, Illinois
Pigeons, Christkindlmarkt, Chicago, Illinois
Geese, Main River, Germany
Ostriches, Tanzania
Love birds, Tanzania
Egrets, Tanzania

Thursday Doors in Miltenberg, Germany

There is nothing like German towns to find picturesque architecture, including doors! Miltenberg is a small city of around 9,000 inhabitants in Lower Franconia, in the state of Bavaria. Miltenberg is on the Main (pronounced “mine”) River and was one of the stops on our Viking Grand European Tour river cruise in June-July 2019.
The day we arrived in Miltenberg, June 29, was a hot one, registering 90ºF (32ºC), part of the first European heatwave this summer. The historic center has frequently suffered flooding which has fortunately abated with 21st century efficient flood control measures, including expansion on the right bank of the river.

Next to the doorway to the Old Town Hall (now shops) are the dates and levels of historic floods.

The earliest Germanic settlement of Miltenberg dates from the early 13th century, growing up around a Mainz toll station, protected by Mildenberg castle. In 1237, Miltenberg was given the status of a town. Merchants had to store their wares and offer them for sale there for several days, promoting construction of inns and warehouses.


Historic gateway entrance to the town of Miltenberg
Humorous sign in which a son tells his father where to find a W.C.!

Downtown scenes:

Oldest hotel, Hotel zum Riesen – formerly a Gothic house built circa 1400, was replaced in 1590 by the current building.


All over Germany, one can find among the cobblestones golden cobbles called “stumble stones.” These memorialize Jewish victims of the Holocaust who lived in buildings nearby. They read “Here lived [name], born [maiden name, if applicable, and year],” date of deportation and concentration camp where they died.
I first heard of these in 2015 when we visited German towns on the Baltic Sea. Stumble stones began as the creation of a German artist who set out to honor the many German Jews who died in the Holocaust.
Most of the half-timbered buildings in the old town today were built from the 15th to the 18th century, during the town’s financial heyday. Few of the Gothic structures remain: a winery, a warehouse, and the former synagogue. 20190629_150224.jpg20190629_15025520190629_15031620190629_15033020190629_15035720190629_15040720190629_150258.jpg
It’s easy to see why tourism is the most important economic activity in Miltenberg today.
It was about this time that another woman from our tour group asked me why I was taking photos of every single door we passed.
I told her I had a sort of “door obsession” – and then explained about my blog and participating in Norm’s Thursday Doors photo challenge. She was genuinely impressed with this!
Many doors had this written on them:
I asked our guide about it and she said there were children from the Catholic church who had gone around town collecting money for a Catholic charity. I don’t remember what the letters stand for but the year is clearly marked 20 – 19. I would see this symbol on doors in many other Bavarian towns, a predominately Catholic state. (Notice it on some of the other door photos in this post.)
This is the cool courtyard of the Gothic winery.
Inside the winery

Whether your photography fetish is doors, windows, signs, bikes, stairs, religious sculptures, or just general subjects, a photographer can find plenty to capture in this beautiful, photogenic town!

Historical information in this post obtained from Miltenberg – Wikipedia.