Sunday, September 26, 2010

What IS It?

Periodically, this blog invites you to peruse a picture and make your best guess: What IS that thing?

The Sept. 16th "What IS It?" quiz showed a giant can of tuna . . .  filled with gravel . . .  in the middle of the river.  We received many creative suggestions, and the winner is: Scott Barbara, for correctly identifying a caisson.

What it's not: This is NOT a bunch of Asian carp gasping for air
Caissons do a bunch of things; the caissons we've been seeing are the river equivalent of those big plastic barrels of sand you see clustered at a highway exit ramp. They're kind of like bumpers--they reduce the seriousness of collisions.

The colorful caisson in the picture is from the Mel Price Lock and Dam in Alton, Illinois. It's positioned near the entrance to the lock, to prevent runaway barges from smashing into the lock wall.

For his exhaustive knowledge of obscure marine terminology, Scott wins a tacky postcard.  YOU could be next.  Just eyeball today's photo and tell us, "What IS It?"
Use the blog "comment" function to submit your answer, or send an email to slowboat@emailias.com

(And remember you can use that email address for ANY communication with SlowBoat: To ask a question, to say you want to visit, to correct typos, whatever!)


  1. Sweet! Love the tacky post cards! You should have my address from the last time, let me know if you need it again!

    I'll take another stab at the picture above later. I have an idea, we'll see if someone else gets it first.

  2. To me they look like small birds swimming.

  3. They look like turtle heads.
    What is a herd of turtles - a swarm?

  4. Stacie chandler writes: "Looks like bird butts."

  5. Ok, someone else guessed it. I was going to say turtles too. Possibly snappers.

  6. Scott, please do re-send your address. Thanks

  7. Is it some kind of insect hatch? Mayflies?

  8. Ding Ding Ding! SlowBoat is ready to declare a winner! Doug, this is indeed a lumbering herd of turtles. Send your snail mail address to slowboat@emailias.com and you will receive your grand prize of a fabulous tacky postcard.

    Thanks to everyone who sent in a contest entry--we had some really excellent guesses!

  9. Hi, Cynthia & Bill--
    When I hear the word "caisson," I recall the Army song, "When the Caisson Goes Rolling Along:".. "Over hill, over dale, as we hit the country trail, as the caisson goes rolling along.."

    Your Uncle DavId and your Dad were in the Army: Your Uncle David was an orthopedist with the rank of Major in the Army Medical Corps, and your Dad was an Army private serving in Japan after the end of WW2, as he explained in his article in a magazine about his experiences, the last line being uttered by his CO, "What took you so long?"