Longreads

The 2,350-mile long Mississippi River is the world’s fourth longest river and it functions as America’s economic lynchpin. As one Missouri farmer put it, “To understand America at this time, you have to understand the river.” For the Washington Post, journalist Todd C. Frankel and a group of photographers took a close look at the river’s problems and ongoing struggles to solve them. The obvious problems are navigation and flood control, but this massive river historically shifted channels and meandered widely, so, against all logic, people continuously labor to keep its course in place.

Concrete enforces the river’s banks, levees hold back floods, and locks and bridges make it navigable. Much of that aged infrastructure needs improvement. The river drains parts of 31 states, and with so many competing interests, it’s hard to coordinate efforts, let alone fund them. Ecology complicates things: changes in one section of the river…

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