A few minutes ago, we were asked this interesting question on Meebo: Why did the Mississippi River shrink from 1883 to now? I was immediately intrigued! Unfortunately, everything I run across seems to point to the river's expansion. The Mississippi River seems to be trying its best to get bigger.
According to the Mississippi River Commission's website, "by the mid-to-late nineteenth century, the great need for navigation improvements and flood control on the Mississippi River was obvious." In 1879, the Commission was created to help try to control flooding and ease navigation down the Mighty Mississip. Interestingly enough, this agency reports directly to the Secretary of War. In 1883, Mark Twain "remarked on the seeming futility of controlling the Mississippi" (PBS). The river has consistently tried to break its banks and take over vital land and wetlands. Be sure to check out the two great websites listed below!