Screen Dykes at Downing's Point

Uncommon View of Missouri River Improvements

Screen Dykes at Downing's Point

Notes: A cabinet view albumen silver print of erosion and bank protection improvements on the Missouri River near St. Charles, Missouri. The image depicts the river and a line of A-frame supports with wire and branches below the waterline to stop debris flows during the rainy season. Two Black men sit in the foreground, one in a canoe and the other seated on the river bank. They may be the photographer's assistants, as a case with a handle is visible in the canoe.

The caption of the photograph continues, "Missouri River improvements, St. Charles, Mo. Main Dyke, 3,600 Feet. Cross-Dykes, 2,000 Feet—July, 1881." This view was published as an engraving in the Annual Report of the Chief Engineers, United States Army, to the Secretary of War, for the Year 1882. Part II, following page 1678.

Over several decades in the late 19th century the Army Corps of Engineers experimented with many systems to keep the Missouri River channel open. In November 1881, "a violent and wholly unexpected rise in the river caused such damage to the incomplete works that the effects produced by them have not been as great as anticipated," the Corps reported in 1882 (see Annual Report, pt. II, p. 1676).

Image size 9-1/4 by 7-3/8 inches on a roughly 12-by-10-inch mount. Captioned on a paper label.

Edition + Condition: A near fine example of this photograph, with good contrast and focus. Mount near fine with a small chip at one corner.

Publication: (N.-pl.): US Army Corps of Engineers, 1881.

Item No: #307604

Price: $300