|In the space of one hundred and seventy-six
years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two
miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year.
Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in
the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November,
the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand
miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And
by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years
from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long,
and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be
plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen.
There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns
of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
- Life on the Mississippi
Illustration from first edition of
LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
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