Lead: In the 1870s James Buchanan Eads devised the means for cutting a deep-water channel at the mouth of the Mississippi. 

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: For centuries sediment deposited by the river at its mouth south of New Orleans had created sand bars which restricted the flow of ships in and out. Eads proposed the construction of jetties or parallel piers far out into the Gulf which would narrow the channel and use the force of the river’s own current to cut shipping lanes through the sandbar. He was opposed by the Army Corps of Engineers and its brilliant, but at times intolerant and uncompromising Chief, General Andrew Atkinson Humpheys, who resented this intrusion into the Corps’ sphere of influence. Humphreys wished to build a shipping canal that would by-pass the hated sandbars completely and he heaped scorn upon Eads’ rather simple solution and obstacles in his path. So convinced was Eads that he offered to build the jetties using private money. The government would reimburse him only if his plan succeeded. Despite bitter opposition from the Corps, Eads careful reasoning and reputation overcame objections and he was able to begin in May 1875.

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