"Part 2 - Grafton History"
For Part 2 of our Grafton visit we will share more on Grafton history starting with the legends and the mounds that reveal some of the first people to occupy this area were Mississippians and later the American Indians. In 1673, Europeans Father Jacques Marquette and a fur trader Louis Joliet arrived marking the first known white men in the area, in early 1800 James Mason purchased this land and Grafton was officially founded in 1836.
With the confluence of two great rivers Grafton became a prime location for boat manufacturing industry such as the Grafton Boat Works that built barges, towboat, ferries and a notable fishing boat, the “Frieman Skiff” was built by Rippley Manufacturing Company which lasted the longest until 1970s. Today the old Boat Works building hosts many antique, craft shows and flea markets throughout the year. Other industries were mills and big stone quarry businesses that quarried magnesian limestone from along the Mississippi River bluffs that many locally buildings and homes were constructed of and including the Eads Bridge in St. Louis, the railroad bridge in Hannibal, and a bridge in Quincy.
Fishing was a major part of the area and in 1910 the Jersey Fish Market moved here from Havana, IL creating the Shafer’s Wharf that was one of the largest commercial fishing centers along the Mississippi River. Fish and turtles were kept in ponds until they were purchased, than cleaned, salted, packed, and shipped. Mussels were also harvested from the river and a button factory used the shells to make buttons.
Grafton has not only experienced many floods but also the rise and fall of industry but this community fought and pulled together and rebuilt the city around them to become the bustling tourist town they are today. Main Street is now lined with a wide variety of restaurants, gift or specialty shops, fresh produce, wineries, pubs and other attractions, many with decks overlooking the river. During the warmer months visitors can take advantage of the two rivers with boating, canoeing or the Grafton ferry that operates to St. Charles County, Missouri. The town sponsors several festivals and events in all seasons, such as the Two Rivers Family Fishing Fair, Music in the Park, and Art in the Park which makes Grafton an interesting place to visit any time of the year.
The fall season calls travelers to enjoy the burst of colors along the byway to take part in the annual Grafton Art Fair and the Grafton Rendezvous. The town is at the center of the region’s Bald Eagle watching area, and let’s not forget the Pere Marquette State Park that bring many to the area for its history stories too.
The options are endless for your Grafton getaway to be FUN for all including water recreation opportunities from the water park to a first class boating facility at the Grafton Harbor Marina where you can take a relaxing riverboat ride aboard the Hakuana Matata or try the parasailing opportunities. Many enjoy biking along to bluff paths or hiking, take a ride on the new ziplines, or spend the afternoon relaxing with a river view and more.
Big News we mentioned last month is the opening of the new American Heartland Fish Products fish rendering plant that will primarily render Asian carp for high-protein supplement products, but can render any fish caught by commercial fishermen contracted. The plan is to eliminate or reduce the Asian carp population in the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers. American Heartland Fish Products was granted a partnership from Alabama-based Falcon Protein for an exclusive license agreement to use their technology and U.S. built equipment to process whole Asian carp for three byproducts: Omega-3 fish oil, high-protein fish meal and bone meal.
Asian carp are plankton-eating fish, so no mercury or other such poisons settle into their body, Oil and protein meal already are daily traded commodities. The plant itself uses only 100 percent “green” technology, which produces no malodorous odor or waste water like traditional rendering plants running two shifts and processing 60,000 pounds per shift each day. Since the government has spent so much money on studying or trying with little or no success in stopping these invasive fish, this appears to be a much quicker and less expensive way to reduce the invasive Asian carp species while providing the fishermen with a little extra income.
Again we want to remind you of the River Rat Catfish Classic Tournament that will be held adjacent to Grafton Harbor Marina on the river June 21-22 that is sure to be a great event as the people of this river town embrace the river and are proud to be river rats. As we mentioned before, even if you do not fish this should be a fun event to observe and if you plan to fish, check with Cassens Bait Shop at west part of town for most all your baits and tackle supplies and even a complete archery section.
If you are looking for a great getaway that is very affordable with lots of recreation for you and the kids, or just to watch the fantastic sunsets, check out this beautiful river town. And if you are looking for a great place to relocate, the City is offering FREE Lots to those who build in their New subdivision on top of the hill.
We are grateful to all the wonderful folks of Grafton for the opportunity to enjoy our visit and we recommend that you at least visit their website www.enjoygrafton.com
Visit us at www.larrysfishinghole.com for more fishing info and for the River Rat Catfish Classic Tournament rules/entry form.
Till Next Time, GOD BLESS & GOOD FISHING.!