October on the Middle Mississppi

On October 23 and 24, we set out to make new work on the Mississippi River between St. Louis and St. Genevieve, Missouri. The first day was cloudy and the second, raining. Most of our images are from that first day. This one, Kaskaskia Levee, is a testament to what environmental philosopher Gary Snider writes about watersheds, “The surface [of the earth] is carved into watersheds…. The watershed is the first and last nation whose boundaries, though subtly shifting, are unarguable.”

The geographic history of Kaskaskia is a good illustration of this mutability. Kaskaskia was founded by Father Jacques Marquette in 1675, on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River. Later, the town was the capital of the Illinois Territory until Illinois became a state in 1818.  Then in 1844, the Mississippi River flooded the town. When the water receded, the river had carved a new channel, and Kaskaskia was now on the Missouri side of the river, but still a part of the state of Illinois. Here, the cairn is resting atop a high levee that keeps the Mississippi River in its new channel-most of the time. A levee break north of town during the Great Flood of 1993 covered the town in nine feet of water.