You’ve heard of Murphy—‘What can happen will happen’? This is where Murphy lives.
Southern Louisiana exists in its present form because the Mississippi River has jumped here and there within an arc about two hundred miles wide, like a pianist playing with one hand — frequently and radically changing course, surging over the left or the right bank to go off in utterly new directions.
- New Yorker article about the Atchafalaya by John McPhee called The Control of Nature.I'm still wading my way through the article that the above quotes are from but as soon as I found this image, I felt like the two had to be paired together and the map was just too incredible not to share right away. The Control of Nature article was written in 1987 (published in The New Yorker) by John McPhee and explores the nature of controlling the Mississippi river in Cajun country.
The map was drawn by Harold N. Fisk in his Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River from 1944 and it shows the historical paths of the Mississippi river. For locals, the original path to the Gulf is now known as Bayou Teche about 2,800 to 4,500 years ago. Looking at the history of the Mississippi, I think one realizes the power of nature that we have attempted to bottle. I am not educated enough on the subject to say we are doing the right or wrong thing or to say that we are doing it the right way or not. I am just in awe of the forces we attempt to control and the science that we attempt to control them with. Truly amazing.