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Introduction How Rivers Run Stories Value Of A River What We Can Do
Restoring Ups and Downs on the Mississippi
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In Huck Finn's day the channel of the Mississippi River ambled across its wide floodplain. One year, it might lie up hard against the Wisconsin bluff. After a big flood, it might wind up over on the Minnesota side, leaving a backwater lake or a plain of mud flats to the Badger State. This flux continually produced new habitat. Aquatic areas would dry out, pack down, and flood again in a few years to produce luxuriant new growths of water plants.

In the late 1800s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed thousands of wing dams to force the river into a narrower, deeper channel to carry barges. Heavy rock riprap was laid on the far bank to prevent the river's escape over the outside bend. In time, the Mississippi was locked in place, no longer free to switch from side to side like a snake.

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Gulf of Mexico
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