A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
River Meanders etc.
From: Frank Reed CT
Date: 2003 Dec 4, 18:29 -0500
From: Frank Reed CT
Date: 2003 Dec 4, 18:29 -0500
George Huxtable wrote:"This is a resend of an earlier message..." FYI, this is the first time I've seen it. Thank you for resending. And:"However, there must have been at least one instability in the StLouis-Cairo section. According to Gary Moulton, editor of the 13-vol L&Cjournals, the Mississippi has, since L&C's time, captured and taken overthe lower stretch of the Kaskasia River, to form a large island." Yes, I should have mentioned that one. It's the only major change in that stretch. For the most part you'll find that the Mississippi is running along a line of bluffs on the west side of its floodplain in the area south of St. Louis. If you study a large scale map, you may notice some meander cutoffs (oxbow lakes) in this area, and on a map they look not so different from the cutoffs in the main Mississippi floodplain (south of Cairo). But in fact those in the north are much older; the Mississippi stopped most meandering in the area south of St. Louis (and north of Cairo, except Kaskaskia) around 2000 years ago. And incidentally that means that the river was stable when the huge chiefdom at Cahokia --complete with enormous pyramids-- was thriving just across the river from the site of modern St. Louis some 700 years ago... And:" My Times Atlas of 1957 shows at Kaskaskia a large chunk of Illinois territory on the Missouri side of the river." Yep. There are lots of those river-made state exclaves down on the main Mississippi floodplain. As you work your way up the Missouri past Kansas City, you'll find one more "state exclave" right in the middle of a city. Here in the US, these re-arrangements in the borders of states interestingly are the province of the US Supreme Court. Usually concerned with "weighty" constitutional issues, they're also the court that handles the mundane matter of inter-state boundary disputes. Two more bits of meander fun:1) If you haven't, read about the US plan to capture Vicksburg during the US Civil War. Acting on direct orders from President Lincoln (who knew the power of the river well), General U.S. Grant and his army were ordered to move the river away from Vicksburg by creating an artificial cutoff. The river failed and so did the plan. A little over ten years later, when Grant was President, the Mississippi did it on its own what the Union Army could not and left Vicksburg on a dead backwater. Grant appreciated the irony.2) Or how about a four billion year old fossilized river meander? Take a look: http://www.space.com/php/multimedia/imagedisplay/img_display.php?pic=mars_water2_031114_02.jpg ...Looks like it's straight out of Louisiana... but it's Mars. And:"There exists useful mapping from the University of Missouri which coversall the campsites used by L&C, starting from Cairo, showing aninterpretation of L&Cs track and observation points. It provides "historichydrography" of the river" Thanks for the link. I haven't seen that site before (I did my historical river work between five and ten years ago). Their historical hydrography in the section near Cairo appears to match the "Smith Report" which was published by the US Army Corps of Engineers way back in 1940. It was a stunningly detailed analysis of the river's evolution over the centuries in the region from Cairo to Baton Rouge. The report must have cost a fortune to produce, but it was well worth it since it alerted the corps to a major shift in the river that would ruined New Orleans. You concluded:"Thanks to list members for useful pointers to web mapping. However, I'm oneof those old-fashioned souls who greatly enjoys reading a well-printed mapon a nice big fold-up sheet of paper. It's nearly as good as actually beingthere. I wonder how many others feel the same way." I would bet that almost everyone prefers paper maps that we can spread out on the floor, and in my opinion that's why God invented the large format printer
. Of course every map today exists *first* as a digital product. So we get many, many more maps, but the quality is all over the... map. It's rare today to find an atlas with the meticulous attention to detail that you see in those 1957 Times atlases. And by the way, I like those, too. I keep my set out on my main mapping table and refer to them frequently despite their age. Finally, for other paper products covering this area, I have two recommendations. First, at slightly better scale than the 1957 atlas, get some of the National Geographic regional maps published with their magazine in the 70s and 80s. They're very good and they include some interesting local interest info. And at much larger scale, consider purchasing the DeLorme state atlases for the states along the river. These include excellent topographic deta! il (and lat/lon). They're printed and bound nicely, and they will give you that "actually being there" feeling. Once again, though, you'll be looking at maps of something that Lewis & Clark did not see. The rivers are very different today. Frank E. Reed75% Mystic, Connecticut25% Chicago, IllinoisHistoricalAtlas.com