Have Flood Controls on the Mississippi River Been Successful?
ES1308  Early Attempts at Controlling the Mississippi River

The first levees on the Mississippi River were built in 1726. By 1858, over 1,000 miles of levees stretched along the river. Some of these "river walls" were up to 38 feet high, as tall as a four-story building. Levees confined the river to a single channel, and blocked access to the floodplain where water would naturally spill over the riverbanks during relatively small flooding events. In April of 1926, the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. agency charged with controlling flooding of navigable rivers, declared that the levee system was a success and that the Mississippi River would not flood.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Levee at Chalmette, LA about 1895 Modification of bank for revetment, 1898
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Sketch of log fence used to stabilize banks on Mississippi River, 1898 Dredge along the Mississippi River, 1898

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