The Mississippi River was never so crowded.

Looking out over the bustling water, you think back to how things used to be when its only traffic was flat-boats piled with hemp and cotton. There were no engines then, river traffic simply floated downstream. You remember how, in 1823, you were amazed to see a boat travel against the current, envying The Virginia’s ten lucky passengers. 

You wish they’d never come. 

The crews are cutting too many trees from the riverbanks to power the steamboat engines. It’s not as if anyone owns the wood, but it’s making large stretches barren, and the bluffs are eroding. When you complain, no one will listen. Thanks to the riverboats carrying wheat and corn to New Orleans, Kaskaskia is now a town seven thousand strong. The farmers are rich and don’t like your questions. 

When the riverbanks start to collapse, you say nothing. Everyone puts it down to the rains, and the crews carry on their felling. 

It is 1881 when people realise, but it’s too late by then. The Mississippi shifts eastwards into a new channel, destroying most of Kaskaskia. People try to rebuild the town, but when the river floods again, it is abandoned. 

Today only nine people remain. 


Alex Harvie

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