From the Bottom Up: One Man's Crusade to Clean America's Rivers

Front Cover
National Geographic Books, Apr 10, 2007 - Nature - 301 pages
Chad Pregracke was a high school student when he first glimpsed the trash that littered the bottom of the Mississippi, a shocking sight that launched him on a quest to clean up the river. After four discouraging years seeking government help without success, he decided to take his fund-raising private—and a corporate sponsor decided to take a chance on this naive but unshakably determined young man.

Ten years later Chad's one-man project has grown into a $500,000 operation with more than 60 sponsors (including National Geographic). His work has been featured on national news and won numerous honors and accolades, but its grassroots, can-do spirit still thrives aboard the 135-foot barge that serves as home base for his organization, a floating environmental classroom, and an inspiration to people of all ages.

This is the story of his personal triumph as an advocate for America's rivers. Chad measures success in tons of garbage removed and thousands of people with a new stake in—and a new understanding of—the river environment. But From the Bottom Up is much more as well: a first-person chronicle of Chad's own life along the Mississippi featuring colorful characters, a near-death experience, a haunted swamp, and other flourishes worthy of a modern Mark Twain; and a fascinating portrait of the river itself which explores everything from the natural history of mussels and catfish to Indian lore to the key role of the Mississippi in our country's history.

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User Review  - Kelly - Goodreads

I'm having a lot of trouble getting through this one, which is rare. Very repetitive. Read full review


Working the River
Big Job Small Boat
More Than I Ever Imagined
Theres Got to Be a Better Way
From Boatloads to Barge Loads
That Sinking Feeling
Here There and Everywhere
Branching Out
Capital Improvements
Coming to a River Near You
Start Your Own Crusade 13 Tips
Trash Statistics 19972005

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About the author (2007)

Chad Pregracke founded Living Lands & Waters, a not-for-profit environmental and educational organization at age 19. Today he directs the efforts of a fleet of barges and community work crews that engage thousands of volunteers in cleanups along our nation's big rivers. He lives in East Moline, Illinois. Visit Chad's web site at

Jeff Barrow is a longtime paddler and outdoors writer who is a regular contributor to The Kansas City Star, The St. Louis Sun, Paddler magazine, and American Whitewater Journal. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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