Monday, January 13, 2014

The Disappearing of Louisiana, Part 1: Stumbling on History

My intermittent series on "the disappearing of Louisiana" is about the effects of nature and man on Louisiana's land and waters. One source says that Louisiana loses 25 to 35 square miles of land a year, nearly a football field every hour. Where does the land go? It is sinking under water.  

I didn't know about the disappearing of Louisiana when I took my road trip here in the winter of 2011/2012. But by chance, I drove right through a mammoth, manmade complex designed to control the Mississippi River. And it plays a role in the land's disappearance.        

Below is an excerpt from a January 2012 post, when I stumbled on history: the Old River Control Complex:

Highway 15, Louisiana

I found myself driving along a levee, moving from Hwy 1 to Hwy 15. It's a damned good thing I gassed up in Morganza before I got onto 15. It was a l-o-n-g way between gas stations.  I drove aside a levee and a series of locks, dams and hydroelectric projects (or something) the entire way. The Old River Control Complex. Some interesting sites about same, most with cool pictures: 

Credit: USACE per Urban Decay

Credit: USACE

America's Achilles' heel: the Mississippi River's Old River Control Structure

Morganza Spillway/Floodway and Old River Control Structure

Where Does the Water Go? The Old River Control Structures, Louisiana 

I saw large white birds with black-tipped wings taking in the waters at the auxiliary structure. High fencing, barbed wire, big padlocks, and what looked like a thick electric-shock cable prevented me from getting a closer look. But I was able to use the office lavatory. Someone had written a sign inside the ladies' room: "If you can't clean up after yourself, then use the woods." Reminds me of a motel room in Memphis, Missouri, that had this sign in every bathroom: "Don't clean game in the sink."

Anyhoo, after an in-car lunch of hard-boiled eggs and a satsuma orange, I proceeded along my way.

I've got a lot of studying to do. 

Related posts

Disappearing Louisiana, Part 1: Stumbling on History
Disappearing Louisiana, Part 2: Water Words
Disappearing Louisiana, Part 3: Paradise Faded: The Fight for Louisiana
Disappearing Louisiana, Part 4: Revetments, Rip-rap, and Other Exotica
Disappearing Louisiana, Part 5: The Control of Nature: Atchafalaya

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