Vampire teeth, a vintage boat, and messages in a bottle: America’s cultural indicators?

Photos by Stream Teamer Bernie Arnold.

Did you know that New York City’s municipal landfill has an anthropologist-in-residence? She looks at what the people of the city throw away, the history of sanitation workers, and lots of other fascinating things. That got me thinking . . .  maybe a similar task could be taken for the spot where North America’s largest waterways meet. What could cleanup hauls at the Missouri-Mississippi Confluence tell us about litter habits in the eastern and western parts of our country?

Confluence photos by AJ Feicht

Missouri River Relief (Stream Team #1875) has a head start on this research. They’ve tallied trash from their confluence cleanups for about the past five years. April 26th’s Earth Day event at the confluence continued to surprise volunteers and crew alike with a wealth of trash and treasure.

Here are some details on MRR’s work out of Columbia Bottom Conservation Area on April 26. Mull over these cultural indicators, and if you know of any anthropologists looking for a project, tell them to give MSTWC a call!

Earth Day at the Confluence – Missouri River Relief Cleanup

Volunteers: 178
[click here for a cool time lapse video of volunteers loading up]

MRR Crew: 31

Boats: 5 (2 USACE, 3 MDC, 1 Hanson P.S., 4 MRR)

Rivermiles: 9 ( 8 miles of the Missouri, 1 mile of the Mississippi)

River Level: 10 ft (St. Charles gage) 14.8 ft. (on the Mississippi at St. Louis)

Tires: 30 (an estimated .5 tons)

Landfill: 2.8 tons

Scrap Metal: an estimated .7 tons

Total Tonnage: an estimated 4 tons

10300778_772412252771118_7861589875743879334_n
A 1957 Saber takes its final ride.

Trash Tally!

  • 201 bags of trash
  • 30 tires
  • 11 chunks o’ Styrofoam
  • 4 coolers
  • 11 5-gal. plastic buckets
  • 1 20-gal. plastic tub
  • 12 55-gal. plastic barrels
  • 2 55-gal. metal drums
  • 4 partial metal drums
  • 1 water heater
  • 1922354_772411032771240_36440279461574215_n
    Transformer and a boat. In a boat. Crazy!

    1 propane tank

  • 1 AC unit piece
  • 1 600 lb Automotive Transformer
  • 1 boxspring
  • 1 chair
  • 2 barge lines
  • 1 buoy
  • 1 car seat cushion
  • 4 gas tanks
  • 1 rim
  • 2 inner tubes
  • 1 – 1957 fiberglass Saber boat
  • 1 oil pan
  • 1 metal trash can
  • 1 pulley
  • 5 metal poles
  • 10 ft. of 2” angle iron
  • 5 ft. of corrugated metal
  • 1 – 6ft. metal pole
  • 8 pieces of metal cable
  • 10250061_772410629437947_7648908014810599039_n
    201 bags of trash saved from going downstream! You’re welcome, Mississippi River/Gulf Coast/Oceans of the World.

    2 metal locker doors

  • 1 tiny saw blade
  • 1 tv
  • 1 lateral drain tile
  • 2 orange booms
  • 1 chicken wire
  • 1 Rubbermaid tote
  • 1 Rubbermaid lid
  • 1 wall to a Porta-Potti
  • 2 PVC pipes
  • 1 white picket fence
  • 1 bookshelf
  • A gazillion million balls
  • 1 softball owned by Gary Babetz
  • 1 kiddie push cart
  • 1 rubber canteen
  • 2 milk crates
  • 1 fishing pole
  • 1 dog kennel top
  • 2 pieces of wood with nails
  • 1 big plastic bowl for Clifford

Trash Contest!!! (winners in bold)

  • 1 yellow piggy bank
  • 10264532_772405306105146_856748195839053260_n
    Snake, dead most likely because of this fishing line tangled around its body.

    1 dead snake dead from plastic netting wrapped around it

  • 1 dead gar
  • 1 studded football massage ball
  • 2 armless baby dolls
  • 1 pair of purple vampire teeth
  • 2 doll heads
  • 16 balls
  • 1 coconut
  • 1 water ski
  • 1 plastic checker
  • 1 plastic rabbit
  • 1 plastic duck on wheels
  • 1 easter egg
  • 3 duck decoys
  • 1 plastic penquin
  • 1 wooden flower & bird
  • 1 pink panther print on foam
  • 1 black flip flop
  • 1 men’s cologne box
  • Trash contest spectators.
    Trash contest spectators. Kind of an absurd event if you think about it too much, but fun nevertheless. Look how riveted they are to the high drama of cool trash!

    1 igloo cooler

  • 1 newspaper mailbox
  • 1 plastic shovel
  • 1 swim pad
  • 1 light bulb
  • 1 kids plastic table
  • 1 plastic cone
  • 1 window squeegee
  • 1 large nail
  • 1 hat
  • 1 bucket
  • 1 fishing lure
  • 1 toy fire truck
  • 1 cassette tape
  • 1 turtle shell
  • 1 construction helmet
  • Several old glass bottles
  • 1 9mm handgun
  • 1 message in a bottle with several letters inside
10308227_772400189438991_1684789398986886457_n
MRR director Jeff Barrow briefs volunteers before they set out. One of the many perks of volunteering for a River Relief event is a free boat ride on the river!

Agencies & Groups: Missouri River Relief Crew, Missouri Department of Conservation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hanson Professional Services, Cub Scout Pack 97, Cadette Girl Scout Troop #435, Baden Powell Service Association 66th Confluence Scout Group, Anderson Pest Control, BioMerieux, Alpha Phi Omega– Washington University, Ethical Navigators 33, Flying Carps, Bank of America, St. Louis University, Boeing, Arnold Stream Team 211, Stream Team 3454 Anglers of Missouri, Saving the World Before Noon, Miramiguoa Master Naturalist, Weber Group, Kabul Waterdogs – Stream Team 3419, Stream Team 4855, Pack 3097, Stream Team River Rovers #4473,

Team Names: Flying Carp, X-Stream Team, Pack 97, Navigators, A-Team, Super Flying Ninja Kittens, Asian Carp Avengers, Anderson, River Dogs, Otters, Mo Mud Hens, Timberwolves, The Bass Fisherman, 66th Confluence Team, Hardcore Team Tough Guy, The Collaborators, River Rebels, Team Smokinbarrel

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