Lead: After the Civil War, attempts to harness and confine the channel of the Mississippi River kicked into high gear. While effective in the short term, in the end the River nearly always wins the battle.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Shortly after the Civil War two great engineers struggled to enforce their will over the Mississippi River. James Buchanan Eads was often opposed by the at times intolerant and uncompromising chief of the Army Corps of Engineers, Gen. Andrew Atkinson Humphreys. Eads conceived the brilliant plan for the construction of parallel jetties far out into the Gulf of Mexico below New Orleans. This narrowed the channel and used the force of the River’s own current to cut deep shipping lanes through the silt and sediment dumped by the water at the Mississippi’s mouth. Soon the Port of New Orleans became one of the world’s largest. Both men were committed to the construction of levees but also believed that constant dredging was required to ensure that the river channel could be maintained. They also believed that provision should be made for dispersal of river water when, in times of flooding, the levees were incapable of holding back and containing what was in excess of 3,000,000 cubic tons of water per second rushing toward the Gulf.

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