1944’s “Ancient Courses Mississippi River Meander Belt” by cartographer Harold Fisk makes the Mississippi River move.

"Ancient Courses Mississippi River Meander Belt" is a series of maps created in 18944 by cartographer and geologist Harold Fisk for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Each map shows a different stretch of the Mississippi River and its various courses through time, between Cape Girardeau, MO and Donaldsonville, LA. Some of these channels date back thousands of years. Part of Fisk’s Geological Investigation report on the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River, the study was conducted to learn about the formation of the valley over time, the factors that dictate the river’s flow and to help geographically predict modern day flooding. 

Data was collected by taking approximately 16,000 borings to analyze the layers of soil and sediment deposits from the river's ancient courses deep underground. Fisk drew more than just geographic data though. He also transcribed the river's prehistoric ghost in a wonderful jumble of abstract loops and purls. The Mississippi's once invisible presense over time, is made visual in his swirling, earth-toned palette, its constantly evolving rhythm shaping the soil, scouring an ever-changing path on the earth's surface. 

In Fisk's maps we can see the Mississippi moving, snaking, from prehistory to the 20th century.

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