It’s fairly easy to grasp the shifting nature of a river when you use a map that spans centuries. But from the edges of the crumbling earth, things are different. This is the second half of our look at the changing Arkansas River. To view things from space, click the map below. Consider Fisk’s mesmerizing study of the Mississippi’s meanders. One might stare at it for a while and marvel, “Oh, how a river moves.”
But the magnificence of those layers is due in large part to the time that they capture. We can sit and pretend to comprehend hundreds and hundreds of years of geological time all at once. And then there are those blossoming colors…
But when you take it to the ground, things get crazy. The thought of all that time, mass, and force, when you shrink it down to the space of a second, grows unimaginable. Consider the trees in that river’s path, the mud, the shrubs, every granule of sand. Consider the sheer amount of land that the river consumes as it chooses a new path. Consider the water, like fingers, carving the ground from beneath the roots of an ancient tree until it falls.
This is a look at the last forty-three miles of the Arkansas River, in its wild, unmanaged, unmanageable sprint to the Mississippi River.