Old Man River:  History Along the MississippiApril 19-November 2, 2003

Man vs. Nature

Nature and Man, A Peaceful Cohabitation?

Bald eagle and alligator crossing sign
The Upper vs. The Lower Mississippi
Nature and Man exhibit section
Artifacts and images on loan from many sources, including:
~ Chad Pregracke, Living Lands and Waters, Moline IL
~ John James Audubon State Park and Museum, Henderson KY
~ State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines IA
~ The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Winona MN

"Let us teach our people reverence for the silent power and magnificence of nature as she works incessantly for our good."
- Thomas H. MacBride, 1895

Natural Habitats

The floodplain of the Mississippi River supports forests, grasslands, farmlands and wetlands, all teeming with hundreds of species of fish, mussels, amphibians, mammals, and birds. Ancient bald cypress swamps contain trees 40 feet around and 95 feet high, as well as 13 foot-long alligators weighing 1,000 pounds. Ancient fish species that predate the glaciers still live in the waters of the Upper Mississippi.

The Mississippi Flyway ranges from the Arctic coast of Alaska southeast to the tip of Patagonia, and from southern Ontario southwest across Ohio and Indiana. The flyway is host to 60 percent of America's millions of migratory birds, including ducks, pelicans, loons, falcons, and bald eagles.

As many as 2,500 bald eagles winter along the upper river around the locks and dams. Here the open pools of water provide ideal feeding areas amid snow and ice - one solution to man vs. nature that works for all concerned! However, man and nature don't always mix.

Man-made Disasters

"The river definitely has been neglected for a long time. It's time for a change."
- Chad Pregracke, Founder of Living Lands and Waters

"Cancer Alley" is the most polluted stretch along the Mississippi, an 80-mile span between Baton Rouge and New Orleans where 140 chemical companies line the banks of the river. Industrial pollution, however, is only one source of contamination.

Fuel leaks, toxic spills, topsoil runoff, herbicides, sewage, and trash piles reduce the capacity of the water to cleanse itself. The decimation of forests and the draining of wetlands rob plants, birds, and animals of their natural habitats.

Helping to protect and restore water quality and shorelines are national parks, wildlife refuges, and environmental groups like the National Audubon Society. Conservation tillage programs, resource management, and stricter environmental standards are making an impact, as are federal, state, local, and corporate groups. Even one individual named Chad Pregracke has cleared over 800 tons of trash from the river's shorelines. The future of the Mississippi Valley will depend on such combined efforts.

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Did you know … ?
The bald eagle - our national symbol - once neared extinction, and even today, remains on the endangered species list.

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This section "Man vs. Nature" has the following related pages:
Nature and Man, a Peaceful Cohabitation?
--John James Audubon, Artist and Naturalist
--Chad Pregracke, Founder of Living Lands and Waters

Continue through exhibit

2 men in a canoe
Early Exploration and Development
River Days
view of Bellview, Iowa
Riverfront Property
Civil War enenactors
Man vs. Man
You are here!
Bald eagle and conservation officer
Man vs. Nature
jazz musician
The Arts Along the River
New Orleans graveyard
Legends and Spirits
View Selected Artifacts
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