A River Through Illinois is the story of the Illinois Waterway, as told by the people who live, work, play and pray along its banks and on its waters.

The book is a collaboration of writer Gary Marx and photographer Daniel Overturf, and it is the culmination of seven years of work along the Illinois Waterway.

Foreword by Bill Kurtis.

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All written material on these pages is the creative property of Gary Marx. © 2015 Gary Marx.

Photographic images on this site are the property of Daniel Overturf. © 2015 Daniel V. Overtruf.

Collected written works  |  Gary Marx



“The Seeds of Memory” was published in 2014 as the capstone piece in “Winds of Time,” the Schiller Park (Illinois) Historical Society’s book commemorating

the village’s centennial.

Gary Marx participated in a panel discussion — “Perspectives on Environmental-Human Confluence: Case of the Cache” — March 19, 2014, at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. 

The March 2014 opening of the photo/text exhibition “Alexander County, Illinois” (Morris Library Rotunda) was the inaugural event in the “Imagining Geographies” program at SIU.


Gary Marx was a judge in the American Pundit contest, sponsored by AllVoices, December 2013.

At the Confluence

At the very tip of Illinois is one of the poorest counties in the state. But it is rich in stories.

About 9,000 people live in the county — fewer than 3,000 in its largest city, Cairo — and the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers converge here.

While that location might suggest the county was well positioned for economic success, history had proved otherwise.

Prone to flooding and now bypassed by rail and highways, the county has been for years a land forgotten.

Yet, there are people who make a living here and who celebrate life every day. The human spirit finds a way to survive and flourish.

The demographics are an intriguing blend of races, religions and economic/social status. Beyond the confluence of the continent’s two largest rivers, Alexander County represents a confluence of human forces, too.


“There aren’t enough people here to warrant any kind of political attention. Thus, you can pretty well do whatever you want. There are no votes here. I haven’t had a politician knock on my door in 20 years.”

Carl Hileman, Tamms, Illinois

CONFLUENCES  Stories from Alexander County, Illinois

A Midwest Journal