Some natural high ground near Missouri’s man-made river banks

By Brendan Gibbons

Near the town of Craig, Mo., a concrete cylinder almost hidden under clumps of weeds and grass marks an unusual piece of high ground adjacent to the Missouri River. Unlike most of the Missouri’s banks, the river sculpted this land, not man.

The cylinder lies near a covered picnic table, a small viewing platform over the river and an unusually clean outhouse. In 1948, a surveyor with the U.S. Geodetic Survey planted the concrete cylinder, which is capped with an inscribed metal disc, describing its location.

Jud Kneuvean, chief of the emergency management branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District, showed a series of photos detailing the outcome of the Corps’ bank stabilization and navigation project. The photos, taken during the 1930s, show the river’s change from a meandering set of braided channels to a single straight, fast channel, with newly-formed banks on either side.

During flood years, the Corps is charged to do its best to protect the land it created. But in 2011, the river took its land back.

“We don’t say we control floods anymore. We lower the risks,” Kneuvean said.

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