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Technical Rescue: Marine Firefighting: From "How High's the Water, Mama" to "Mark Twain"

By Tom Guldner Last year record floods shut down sections of the Mississippi and other inland waterways because of excessive currents and the rivers overrunning their banks. The lyric "How High's the Water, Mama" by Johnny Cash could have been sung in any of the towns, villages, and hamlets along inland rivers. This year, the phrase that most barge and tow boat1 operators would like to hear is "mark twain"--not the iconic author of Tom Sawyer, but rather a river depth measurement from the steamboat era. A crewmember would drop a weighted "lead line2" attached to a rope and yell out the depth under the boat to the pilot of the steamboat. The term "mark ...

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