Chapter 29 Page 5
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Search title. Go to site. Both the Mississippi and Chicago rivers have flowed backwards at various points in history, according to an article in Mental Floss. In the case of the Chicago River, human engineering prompted the reverse flow.
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The Mississippi has flowed backwards several times due to natural disasters. Mental Floss reports that early settlers in the Chicago area called upon an engineer to assist them in reversing the flow of the Chicago River once they realized that the waste they were dumping into the river was making its way to Lake Michigan, which they used as a source of drinking water.
The "Chicago Diversion" project of the late s not only reversed the flow of the river, but it connected the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes. The engine was built in New York and carried in pieces overland to Pittsburgh because there were no facilities for constructing such an engine in the city at the time.
The steam boat made its first successful test trip around Pittsburgh on October 15, Aboard her were Nicholas Roosevelt who would act as captain for the trip, his extremely pregnant wife Lydia and their first daughter. Nicholas Baker was the engineer for the trip and Andrew Jack was the pilot. There were also six deck hands, two maids for Lydia, a cook, a waiter and a large Newfoundland dog named Tiger.
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On October 28 the New Orleans docked at Louisville. The steamboat would have to wait at Louisville nearly a month before the water rose high enough in the Ohio River to allow the boat to traverse the Falls of the Ohio, which were more like a series of shallow rapids than an actual waterfall.
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During the wait Roosevelt took the steamboat on several small excursions including a return to Cincinnati to prove that the boat could travel upstream. They departed Louisville in late November to make their way over the Falls and after stopping to resupply into the Mississippi River. It was hoped that the Mississippi River would be relatively easy to cruise down. Andrew Jack had experience on the river and knew the channel well. It was not an easy cruise to New Orleans.
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This earthquake, which was actually an extended period of severe tremors, has been estimated up to an 8. The entire channel of the Mississippi was erased, the course of the river changed dramatically. For about an hour after the most severe tremors the river actually ran backwards.
Jack, the pilot, had no idea where he was and soon found himself navigating the boat over areas that only hours before had been fields or forests. Whole sections of the shore were dropping into the river, islands appeared and disappeared. A few days after the worst of the tremors the New Orleans arrived in New Madrid itself.
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Houses had fallen into the holes that opened in the ground.