Cartographic Interlude: A Really Weird Map of the Mississippi

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Pilgrims: Lake Itasca, Minnesota (Photo: Tim Murphy).Pilgrims: Headwaters of the Mississippi, Lake Itasca, Minnesota (Photo: Tim Murphy).We’re nowhere near the Mississippi River right now. But NPR’s Robert Krulwich has dug up this absolutely bonkers map, from the 1940s, which captures the migration of the river through all its jumps and cut-offs and channels. Basically, what you’ll see is that the Mississippi bears a striking resemblance to the Flying Spaghetti Monster—and more seriously, that the entire map of the central United States is a relatively recent (and fragile) phenomenon.

New Madrid, Missouri, for instance, is across the river from the old New Madrid, Missouri, and, were it not for the Army Corps of Engineers, wouldn’t be across the river from anything, because there’s a natural cutoff further downstream; Huck Finn’s Jackson Island is probably gone; in Louisiana, the Old River control system is the only thing keeping the Atchafalaya from capturing most of the Mississippi’s water and relocating the mouth of the big river west to Morgan City.

Anyways, check it out.

 Tim Murphy)The Mighty Mississippi, in lake form, at Bemidji, Minnesota (Photo: Tim Murphy).

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest