Tiniest travelers feel Mighty Mo.’s wrath

Wednesday, April 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:25 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

Sailing down the Missouri River near Brunswick, a towboat captain came across a scattered graveyard of canoes. Eleven of them hung helpless on a rock dike extending into the river.

About 30 miles south, near Glasgow, seven more canoes got trapped on a sandbar. There are still 106 missing, lost in the temperamental waters.

Only two of the 124 miniature canoes launched three days ago as part of The Great Canoe Race of 2004 have reached Jefferson City. The 15-inch canoes were launched in Brunswick, northwest of Columbia. The race is an effort of the River Valley Development Committee to teach people about the river.

Elementary school children across Missouri put a lot of heart into coloring, decorating and personalizing the wooden canoes.

The river’s temper, low water and strong currents caused a hitch in the plan and the canoes had no chance for successful sailing. Their destination was Augusta, 190 river miles away. They were supposed to be there Tuesday.

“I think the people in our canoe were too heavy and so it sunk to the bottom in the mud,” said Maddie Delcourt, a fourth-grader from Two Mile Prairie Elementary.

Ian Patterson, a fourth-grader from New Haven Elementary, wasn’t surprised to hear the bad news.

“I thought they would turn over or get snagged by roots or moss or something,” Ian said.

Jack Ryan, the committee’s chairman, asks anyone who finds the hung up competitors before Thursday evening to place them back into the current. Otherwise, Ryan said, open up the capsule inside the canoe and contact the school it belongs to.

“Help us find the canoes,” Ryan pleaded.

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