Any closure of the river would upend the transport system that has carried American grain since before steamboats and Mark Twain. So shipping companies are scrambling to find alternative ways to move crops to the Gulf Coast.
The focus of greatest concern is a 180-mile stretch of the river between St. Louis and Cairo, Ill. That's where lack of rain has squeezed the channel from its normal width of 1,000 feet or more to a just a few hundred feet. And it's shallow.
River shipping in the Winona area will come to a halt on Sunday when Lock and Dam Six at Trempealeau is shut down by the U-S Army Corps of Engineers. The lock will be dewatered for winter maintenance.
This means the commercial harbor in Winona will also close down for the winter.....