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Tour the ProjectsA Tale of Two Rivers

An Altogether Different Problem

An Altogether Different Problem

In contrast to the Colorado River, the main challenge posed by the Mississippi River was how to keep the water off the land. Through the millennia, the Mississippi and its tributaries—a fifteen-thousand-mile web of waterways draining more than a third of the continental United States—rise with the rains every spring and often spill out on the land. By the 1920s, the levees of the lower Mississippi—built over centuries to keep the water off the land-stood unbroken from the mouth of the Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico, a thousand miles on either side, three to four stories high.

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Great Projects: The Building of America


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Photo Credit: Old Court House Museum Collection, Vicksburg, Miss.