Present-day Keg Island exists in the Mississippi River where the river flows between the states of Iowa and Illinois. It is over a mile long, maybe a quarter of a mile wide at its widest point, consisting of about 128 acres – and it is uninhabited. Burlington Basket Company claims title to the island by virtue of an Illinois chain of title dating back to an 1899 quit-claim deed out of the state. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) believes that it owns the island because the navigable channel of the Mississippi River flows on the Illinois side, meaning that it is currently within the borders of Iowa. The battle over the ownership went to trial in Iowa District Court where a decision was made in Burlington’s favor. The DNR appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court, which handed down its decision in State v. Burlington Basket Co.1
Figure 1 is a composite drawing showing a modern-day Topo Quad-Map of the Mississippi River, Keg Island (near the bend in the river), and two other islands: Otter Island and Turkey Island. The river flows from north to south in this picture, and the navigable channel and state boundary line are depicted east of Keg Island.