Back On The Mississippi: Hidden Trails, Offbeat Tales

(2004) 58 min. VHS: $19.95, DVD: $24.95. Back on the Mississippi (dist. by The A V Cafe). PPR. Color cover.

This idiosyncratic travel video finds guide Chuck Strinz following the route of the 1854 Grand Excursion on the Mississippi River from Arsenal Island (between Illinois and Iowa) upriver to St. Paul, Minnesota. Viewers will see and hear about the Confederate cemetery on Arsenal Island, the locks at Rock Island (IL), the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire (IA), lead mining/shot manufacturing at Dubuque (IA), Wisconsin's Effigy Mounds, the houseboat city in Winona (MN), the spiral bridge that used to be in Hastings (MN), and finally the former Pig's Eye Landing in St. Paul. A quirky postscript comes from the Illinois village of Oquawka, where an Abraham Lincoln impersonator tells the story of the death (by lightning) of an elephant in 1972. Serving up both historical and cultural notes, the program falters with some of the "humorous" touches (such as the running gag about buying a new cap at each gift shop), but this would be a good choice overall for regional and larger travel collections. DVD extras include audio commentary, behind-the-scenes footage, and outtakes and bloopers. Recommended. Aud: P. (R. Reagan)