During the 19th Century, the Mississippi River was the chief commercial highway in the United States. But for two impediments, the Upper and Lower (Des Moines) Rapids, its entire course of 2400 miles would have offered an untroubled thoroughfare to watercraft.
The federal government, as well as private concerns, attempted throughout the better part of that century to alleviate the river of its barriers and to develop its rapids as a source of power. Those attempts were disappointingly unsuccessful, however, and not until the advent of the 20th Century, when the nation had matured both economically and technologically, was the Mississippi freed of its obstacles and developed on a large scale as a source of energy.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; History
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Enders, Donald L., "The Des Moines Rapids: A History of its Adverse Effects on Mississippi River Traffic and its Use as a Source of Water Power to 1860" (1973). Theses and Dissertations. 4668.
Rapids, Des Moines River, Shipping, Mississippi River, History, 19th century, Water-power, Des Moines River Region