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New Orleans
Monday, March 23, 1998

Hello Y'all!

We aren't trying to make our visitors from the Northern part of the country jealous, but the weather really favored the city of New Orleans today. We will miss the warm temperatures and sunshine when we leave tomorrow. As we approach our return to IPTV's headquarters in Johnston, Iowa, we thought we would share the events of our final day in the city with you.

We spent most of our day at Cargill's Terra Haute grain terminal producing video and still photography for the CD-ROM component of our project. If you read our first entry about Cargill on January 6, you already understand the importance of the Mississippi River to the grain industry and the challenges of river navigation.

This area, which is located near the mouth of the river, hasn't always been the ideal center for grain operations that it is today. Prior to the 1930s, when the very first grain terminal was built, the area was used to grow sugar cane. The 1960s marked a big expansion of the grain business and several more terminals were soon built along the Mississippi River. The added terminals were needed to help with receiving and shipping of soybeans, corn, sorghum, and wheat. This receiving and shipping process could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the time of the year and the size of the cargo.

An important part of the process rests in the hands of specialists working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Before a cargo can be taken in or sent out of a shipping terminal, grains need to be inspected for odor, insects, and foreign materials. They are also carefully checked for damage, weight, and splits --a process called grading.

Fascinated by the enormous size of the foreign ships that we saw at the grain terminal, we returned to the city’s riverfront to see if we could find any more. We found tour boats, tug boats, commercial boats, and a few other interesting vessels. We were lucky enough to be invited aboard the three-mast Ecuadorian school ship in the picture.

We hope you have enjoyed our journals and that you will come back for more information about our trips along the Mighty Mississippi. As the weather improves, we will be moving up the river and sharing more production experiences with you.

If you had the chance to board and explore a boat, what kind of boat would you choose?

Mexican ship at Cargill Grain Terminal.
Grading soybeans.
Ecuadorian school ship.

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