Students Name New Islands In Mississippi River Near Grafton, Ill.

Moonlight, Canvasback and Steamboat are the names of three new under-construction man-made islands being formed in the Riverbend area of the Mississippi River near Grafton, Ill. The names were given by three students from the Jerseyville and Alton (Ill.) primary school districts who won a contest sponsored by the St. Louis Engineer District. Students submitted a total of 57 essays explaining their choices.

According to local news sources, Erin Federle, a sixth-grader at Jerseyville Middle School, came up with the name Canvasback Island because she liked canvasback diving ducks. CeCe Johnson, a fifth-grader at North Elementary in Alton, Ill., said the name Moonlight reminded her of looking at the moon on the water. Alton North Elementary School fifth-grader Sophia Princivalli researched Mississippi River history before picking the name Steamboat Island. A fourth man-made island will be named after a family that lived along the river for generations. The U.S. Geological Survey must officially confirm the names before they can appear on maps.

The islands were created as part of the $7.2 million Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program’s Piasa and Eagles Nest Island Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project. They are located between Upper Mississippi River Miles 207.5 and 211.5.

The Corps has created rings of stone in the river and will soon fill those rings with dredged material to create the islands to enhance natural river habitats.  The islands will range in size from about 3.9 acres (Moonlight Island) to about 48 acres (Canvasback Island).

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The winning names were announced in a ceremony May 13 at the National Great Rivers Museum at Mel Price Lock and Dam that was part of REC (Recreation, Education and Conservation) Fest.