Three men (Shea, Forrest, and Alex) have embarked on an expedition down the Great Aorta of America.

THE LOW DOWN

Being raised as land-locked flat-landers surrounded by the bountiful cornfields of Ohio, big water and mountains have been invariably rare, inspiring sights. Heck, even a hill is a big to-do in Ohio. These sons of landlocked fields yearn to experience the truly mammoth scale of America's mightiest waterway firsthand. Thousands of miles separate the river's source in Minnesota from the Gulf of Mexico, and a serious challenge lies ahead of us; but through preparation, hard work, and determination we will accomplish our goal of paddling the Mississippi River in its entirety.

We're also hoping to do a whole lot more than simply travel. This crew will be traveling roughly 2,320 miles down what was once the lifeline of America's trade - the boundary between East and West, which was and still is used by a countless number of different tribes, nationalities, trades, backgrounds, and peoples. We will be traveling down, through, and along ten states. Just as the river has always meandered and shifted its shape, so too have the communities we shall encounter along this journey. The changes are ongoing, and we hope to record the present state of things using skills specific to each of us.  Forrest will be doing the bulk of the writing while Alex will be documenting visually in paint and ink, with Shea wielding photo equipment.

What effect has mankind's population of its banks had upon the river? How has the river shaped the development of American communities? The vast history of this river stretches back thousands of years - back before even the Woodland Period or the Mississippian Culture when Native American civilization flourished along the river's fertile banks; before Europeans claimed and made war over its vital waters; long before the golden age of steamboat commerce and development; and eons before the present day - when roughly 125,000,000 pounds of toxic chemicals are released into the Mississippi watershed in a single year. We want to end up with something that could be used as an educational and historical document, something that catalogues what our Mississippi River is today. 

We seek to understand the past, observe the present, and help shape the future. What does the future hold for the Mississippi River and all the living things that depend upon it? We can't hope to answer such a huge question on our own. But, what if by seeking out the countless stories, anecdotes, wisdom, and unique perspectives found along the Mississippi's banks, together, we could ask: What can we do FOR the future of the Mississippi River? Maybe then, united, we might find a way to steer towards a better future.

In addition to studying the cultural landscapes of the Mississippi River, we will be conducting a large-scale scientific survey during our journey. We will be regularly performing field tests and collecting data on the water quality of the Mississippi. We believe that with quality-controls in place, we will provide reliable field data -- measuring the river's changing Turbidity, Temperature, Dissolved Oxygen, pH level, Barometric pressure, Nitrate/nitrite levels, Total nitrogen, Ammonia levels, and Specific conductivity -- which will be invaluable to researchers and conservationists alike. Additionally, we will be routinely taking water samples at different points along the river to be mailed to a partnering lab for further analysis. By consistently collecting data on a 2,320 mile scale, this hydro-survey will help analysts better understand the overall state of the Mississippi River's health -- both on a grand scale and at specific locations. 

 
 

WHAT WE ARE DOING

  • Canoeing from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico - launched May 2015
  • Documenting the overall state of health of the Mississippi River's waters and communities
  • Conducting a large-scale survey of the river; collecting data via water quality field tests, local resident questionnaires, and sample collection.
  • Chronicling ongoing evolution of historical development trends along the Mississippi River and their apparent effects upon society and the natural world
  • We seek to better understand its past; observe its present; and help shape its future.