By Karen Butterfield
Missourian Staff Writer
Sixteen years ago, two lovestruck young ladies created a time capsule of sorts. They carefully organized items into a bottle and dropped it into the river.
The letter in a bottle was one of the more interesting items collected during the Bourbeuse River Operation Clean Stream outing Saturday, Aug. 22. It was discovered in a driftwood pile near Peters Ford.
Curious volunteers gathered to open the bottle, which contained movie tickets from Cinema One Plus in Washington, a pencil, a “Healing Garden” sample book, two pennies and a letter with their “hopes and dreams.”
“Here is our past that we will cherish forever. Our hopes and dreams are locked in this bottle until someone releases them. . .” the letter read. It went on to name their crushes, who they said they will love forever.
The girls, who only signed their names as Sarah and Michelle, dated the letter 1-23-99. The movie tickets were dated one day earlier and the movie title had faded away.
Though it was fun to find the message, Operation Clean Stream teams were hard at work cleaning the Bourbeuse River from Rosebud to where the river meets the Meramec.
In all, there were 29 teams this year, said Lisa Williams, Operation Clean Stream board member and Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 434, which helped unload the trash at the Beaufort Lions Club Saturday.
Several of the teams haven’t been able to clean their stretch of river yet, Williams noted, because of river flooding on their planned cleaning date.
Williams had data from 25 of the teams.
There were a total of 113 vessels on the river to collect trash, including 21 boats, 85 canoes and seven kayaks.
There were 198 volunteers who spent 1,267 man-hours on the river.
The teams collected 278 tires.
There are several size bags cleanup crews use, but overall, they collected approximately 285 bags of trash in all sizes.
More than 1,000 pounds of scrap metal were pulled from the river, Williams said.
The Bourbeuse River Operation Clean Stream completed its 30th year of river cleanup Saturday.
To commemorate the event, each team captain received a wooden paddle engraved with the logo, as well as names of team captains, board members, volunteers and donors. Bruce Templer, a retired shop teacher, made the approximately 1-foot-long paddles.
Three awards were presented this year, for the most tires, largest item and strangest item.
One team earned top honors by collecting 59 tires. The largest item award was given to a team that found a jonboat in a brush pile.
The strangest item award went to the team that found the message in the bottle.
A picnic was held for volunteers after the collection.
Williams, who has been volunteering with the group since 1997, said she is proud of the teams and the community’s commitment to Operation Clean Stream.