In the Watershed: A Journey Down the Maumee River
By Ryan Schnurr
October 15, 2017
The Maumee River Basin is the largest watershed in the Great Lakes region, collecting runoff from more than 6,600 square miles in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan and depositing it in Lake Erie—though as the lake’s largest tributary the river’s influence is not entirely positive. In this lively, ruminative book, Ryan Schnurr takes us on a journey down the Maumee River, walking and canoeing it from headwaters to mouth. Along the way, he traces the history, ecology, and culture of the river, from the influence of glaciers, through its role in Native American and American history, to its relevance for contemporary environmental issues.
Part cultural history, part nature writing, part personal narrative, In the Watershed is a lyrical work of nonfiction in the vein of John McPhee and Ian Frazier with a timely and important warning at the core. “What is happening in Lake Erie,” Schnurr tells us, “is a disaster by nearly any measure—ecologically, economically, socially, culturally.”
Advance praise for In the Watershed:
“I am entranced by this slender, luminous volume. Ryan Schnurr has created a subtle monument to a place that we overlook, yet glows with sacredness under his measured gaze. Delightful.”
— Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway and Into the Beautiful North
“…Every watershed needs observers who monitor its health, who care about the quality of wild and human life it supports. The Maumee Valley now has a new and keen-eyed caretaker in Ryan Schnurr, who has written an engaging narrative about a journey downriver from the headwaters to Lake Erie, braiding together his personal observations with history, science, and folklore.”
— Scott Russell Sanders, author of Earth Works: Selected Essays and A Conservationist Manifesto
“Ryan Schnurr is a keeper of the spirit of John McPhee, Edward Abbey, and Annie Dillard — he writes about nature intimately and with a sense of wonder, but he’s forever alert to the ways our environment is wounded and reshaped by our greed and neglect. The Maumee River may be relatively small and unknown, but reading this book it’ll feel as big and important as the Mississippi: In the Watershed stretches from the glaciers of eons past to this year’s algae blooms, from wars with Native Americans to Midwest industrial history. It’s a rich, complex, and fragile place, and Schnurr is a superb guide through it.”
— Mark Athitakis, author of The New Midwest: A Guide to Contemporary Fiction of the Great Lakes, Great Plains, and Rust Belt
Ryan Schnurr is a writer from northeast Indiana. His work has been published by Midwestern Gothic, Old Northwest Review, and Belt Magazine, and has been selected for two regional anthologies. In the Watershed is his first book.
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