Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History
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"Old Man River," Paul Schneider's exploration of America's great waterway taking the reader from the Mississippi River's origins to its polluted present and tracing its prehistory, geology, and cultural and literary histories is as vast as its subject.
The fascinating cast of characters includes the French and Spanish explorers de Soto, Marquette and Joliet, and the incomparable La Salle; George Washington fighting his first battle in an effort to secure the watershed; the birth of jazz and blues; and literary greats like Melville, Dickens, Trollope, and, of course, Mark Twain.
Pirates and riverbats, gamblers and slaves, hustlers and landscape painters, loggers and catfishers, tourists and missionaries: The Mississippi is a river of stories and myth. It's Paul Robeson sitting on a cotton bale, Daniel Boone floating on a flatboat, and Paul Bunyan cutting trees in the neighborhood of "Little House in the Big Woods."
Half-devastated product of American ingenuity, half-magnificent natural wonder, it is impossible to imagine America without the Mississippi."
the Spaniards. Flood victims in Hamburg, Louisiana, 1927. No one kept much of an account of the floods during the next centuries: New Orleans was underwater for several months in 1734, and the Cajun country was flooded in 1788. There were thirteen notable floods on the lower Mississippi River in the nineteenth century: in 1809, 1825, 1849, 1851, 1858, 1859, 1874, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1890, 1893, and 1897. In that same period there were hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of other high-water events
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process of warming, which had already disrupted and stressed the continental ecosystem, was slammed into reverse, putting some species over the edge into extinction. Also, a thin layer of sediment in the strata may suggest that a meteoric impact or a period of intense volcanic activity took place. A very small increase in mortality can lead to the extinction of a species over a long period, these arguments agree, but there were causes of their extinction other than early hunters. The most
turned to the Virginians, whose turn it now was to respond. There was an awkward pause, however, when the visitors suddenly realized they weren’t as prepared as they should have been. “The Commissioners [did not have] any Wampum strung, without which Answers cou’d not be returned.” It was a bit of a faux pas, which their translator—a half-Seneca, half-Canadian named Andrew Montour—only managed to finesse by requesting a recess. The Virginians then spent their lunch break threading beads, because
ineptitude—depended on one’s opinion of Albert Koch. The showman died on December 28, 1867, at the age of sixty-three, and nearly sixty years would pass before mainstream archaeology came to embrace the implications of his greatest find. His Missourium is still on display at the British Museum in London, though it turned out to be “just” a mastodon once his erroneous additions of vertebrae and ribs were subtracted. His other major finds were both destroyed by fires: the hydrarchus in the Allied