We kicked off the Institute with a dinner session in St. Louis, learning about the Mississippi River that we have created through engineering.
The River We Have Wrought
The Mississippi (thanks, in large part to the Missouri River, which joins the flow just upstream of St. Louis) drains nearly 40 percent of the contiguous United States. By the time the Ohio River enters the picture, the lower Mississippi is a force of nature. The power of these rivers was on display this spring as the Missouri flooded the Midwest and high water hit the Mississippi Delta. The uncomfortable relationship between the river and people living along its banks dates back beyond 1,000 AD, when nearby Cahokia Mounds was home to nearly 20,000 citizens who regularly dealt with floods. While the river today is a much different beast – an extensively engineered system of locks and dams, levees, dikes and channels – flood concerns still remind us, as Bob Criss likes to say, “you can’t control the rivers, they control us.”