The Shifting Mississippi

In a report for the US Army Corps of Engineers, in 1944 Fisk had completed a mammoth effort entitled, “Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River” (downloadable here). It was his best attempt at tracking the meanderings of the Mississippi’s present and past bends, visualized as gorgeous maps. Of course, mapping over 2,000 miles of river and its previous structure based on the available physical evidence is a tall order (though Fisk completed the project in three years, which is unbelievable), so many of the colorful curves in Fisk’s maps are a combination of speculation, interpretation, and extrapolation. Nevertheless, his maps are an incredible visualization of a living river.

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