Life Along The Mississippi

Unless you are driving across it or flying over it or floating down it, it is hard to see the actual Mississippi. Anyone who had anything to do with the river discovered long ago that it was too powerful to leave alone, this huge continental drainpipe, and so the great engineers engineered the levees and locks and dams that reduced the number of ships that sank and towns that vanished--but also had the effect of hiding the river behind its walls and leaving the rest to the imagination..... The river is the color of cafe au lait, with a generous helping of 30-weight and detergent thrown in. Down toward the mouth of the Mississippi, the land was formed of sedimentary deposits from farther upriver, rich topsoil blown from the hills of Wyoming into the Missouri, acres of Kansas prairie swallowed by flooding and swept downstream. Mark Twain's characters claimed that a man who drank the water could grow corn in his stomach.

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