Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Want to Buy Swampland in Florida?

In our endless quest for hermitude, we've been looking at all kinds of remote property in the farthest reaches of Southern Illinois. A few days ago Lori saw a piece of land outside of Mounds City, IL, which is just a hair north of Wickliffe, Ky on the Ohio River.

If ever there was a town that didn't deserve the title of "city", it's Mounds City. The population is 750, most of whom must commute somewhere else to work. As far as I could see, the downtown area consists of a grain elevator, a post office, a pharmacy, and a tavern. That's it. No grocery store, no gas stations, and precious few employment opportunities.

But...what we did find is a nifty plot of land for sale. It's eight undeveloped acres of woods and fields, and it backs up onto a chute of the Ohio river.

These woods are dense, folks. I mean impenetrable in places. The western periphery, the side that's accessible by the road, is surrounded by a wall of brambles and poison ivy, and you pretty much have to find a place where you could sort of imagine a gap, and wade in. But

inside...it's gorgeous. Dark and cool with a high canopy of trees, it's definitely worth the struggle to get back there.

We chose our entrance point carefully; we wanted to not get poison ivy, ticks or chiggers, and not be confronted by what was either an old abandoned Bum Camp, or a dead guy rolled up in a tarp. I figure that the responsibility for disposing of all corpses lies with the seller. But I'd be negotiable on that if she'd knock it off the asking price.

The eastern side is bordered by a chute of the Ohio river, which is a crescent shaped jog off the river that left a large island between the chute and the river.

The chute side of the property is easy to get to by driving on the levee wall, then down a dirt road. We hiked down the road for a while and saw all sorts of fish and turtles in the water, including a two-foot long gar, in all it's primordial creepiness.

So it's a very cool piece of property, and the asking price is $10,000 and the owner is negotiable. But the question for us is...what would we do with it? It's probably too close to the Ohio to build a house on, or even a cabin. I'm sure it wouldn't take another 500 year flood to submerge it entirely. We've considered building a structure of some kind on a decommissioned barge or some other floating base that could rise with rising water levels, or a cabin on stilts.

It would be an excellent place to clear out a spot, build a cabin and put a boat into the Ohio River, but not if it'll be underwater every spring.

So far, we've decided to buy it and watch it for a few years. See how high the river goes, and how well the river contains it. For $7,000, it's worth it. The property taxes on that land are a whopping...zero. Like, free. As long as it's undeveloped, it's not assessed any taxes at all. And that means we can sit on it and see if it's a viable place to stick a cabin, or a boat, or a barge. If not, it'll be an investment in cheap riverfront property. And if it is dry enough, it would be a very cool place to put up a little kit house and hide out from humans...at least on the weekends.


Anonymous said...

Bitchen! Can I come kayak it? Robin

Suzanne said...

Wow, that is probably the best bargain I've ever heard, bodies or no bodies. It's stunning.

Kwach said...

Robin, yes to the kayaking! I'm not very good a gauging nautical distance, but it looks like maybe a mile to where it opens into the Ohio River, if that far. Bonus Prize: it's about 10 miles down the road from the best barbecue sandwich in Southern Illinois. :)

Suzanne, we didn't even get very good pictures! There's an abandoned railroad right-of-way running lengthwise through the property, and when you climb to the top of it there are still rails and ties in some places.

The fact is, it's a strip of land between the river chute and the levee that keeps the river out of Mound City, so it probably wouldn't be prudent to build a house nestled in there and then put all your worldly goods in it, but it's too pretty to pass up at that price. Maybe someday we'll be those crusty old river types who just float along and tie up where the spirit leads 'em ... and that can be our "home port."


Anonymous said...

wow! What a find, looks like a great place to pitch a tent and leave the world behind.